Swadu patola (trichosanthes cucumerina linn.): a dietry remedy for cardiovascular diseases


Swadu patola (trichosanthes cucumerina linn.): a dietry remedy for cardiovascular diseases

  • Posted By Dr. Honey Thomas
  • On 10Jun

Author : Honey Thomas

PG Scholar

Department of Dravyaguna Vijnanam, Government Ayurveda College Tripunithura


1) Dr. Sara Moncy Oommen


Department of Dravyaguna Vijnanam, Government Ayurveda College Tripunithura

2) Dr. P Y Ansary

Professor and HOD

Department of Dravyaguna Vijnanam, Government Ayurveda College Tripunithura


Cardiovascular diseases has become one among the major non communicable diseases prevalent in the world around. According to Ayurveda Diet plays an important role in pathophysiology of the disease and also interferes with the pharmacological actions of the prescribed drugs. Drugs alone cannot find a solution for the arisen problem. Diet also should be managed both in the preventive and curative aspects of the disease. Acharyas describes the diet to be taken with its benefits and also that to be avoided. While describing the shaka varga, Acharya Vagbhata describes the patola as hridya, that soothens the heart. From the references available Swadu patola (used as vegetable) is identified as Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn ; the phytochemical constituents also support that it is having cardio protective action. The present review tends to prove the use of Trichosanthes cucumerina Linnas a vegetable in regular diet to prevent cardio vascular diseases. 

Key words: Swadu patola, Cardiovascular diseases, Diet


Unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are key risk factors for the major non communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes. Among them, cardiovascular disease holds the prime position of all global deaths. Age-standardized CVD death rate in India is higher than the global average. Alarmingly prevalence of cardiac disease is very high in Kerala compared to the national figures. Rapid rise in the rate of CVDs is the outcome of change in lifestyle and newly adopted dietery patterns. Earlier the health of Keralites was the best outcome of the food habits they had ; the diet was inclusive of Millets {Panicum sumatrense - chaama, Paspalum scrobiculatum – varagu, Eleusine coracana - koovaragu / raggi} ; Pulses {mudga - Vigna radiata, kulatham -Macrotyloma uniflorum}; Tubers {dioscorea, colocasia, amorphophallus}; Cultivated vegetables {kushmanda - Benincasa hispida, patola - Trichosanthes cucumerina, karkaru - Cucurbita pepo, karavelakam - Momordica charantia & bimbi - Coccinia grandis} and wild varieties {Diplocyclos palmatus - neyyunni, Momordica dioica – eruma paaval} that belongs to the cucurbitaceae family ; Vegetables available from the local premises such as Banana blossom (vazhakuumb), Senna tora (thakara), Spinach, Banana stem (vazhapindi), Portulaca oleraceae (kozhuppa cheera).

By the introduction of tapioca by Visakham Tirunnal in 1860s a new diet system itself has evolved. The gene of Keralites were adapted to the traditional dietary habits , slowly the traditional diet system got outdated & people started looking for bulk food items , thus paving the way for life style disorders . Now a days the western foods like noodles, burgers, canned foods became the part of our regular life, resulting in complex manifestations of diseases (CVD).

Ayurveda Acharyas were aware of the role of diet as causative as well as in the preventive and curative aspect diseases. They classified the food items into different groups and narrated their properties and use in healthy and diseased conditions. Intake of vegetables is linked to a reduction in cardiovascular disease in two ways i.e., directly and indirectly. They provide nutrients and phytochemicals that may directly reduce cardiovascular disease risk; certain nutrients may indirectly improve established diet-related cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes. Ayurveda is recognized as the foremost life science which describes ways to prevent and manage cardiovascular disorders in the forms of proper dietary management.

Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, overweight and obesity, infective endocarditis, artherosclerosis are the major causes for the cardio vascular diseases. Ashtanga Hridaya sutrasthana, while explaining the shaka varga, acharya describes the benefits of them in the sareera. Among them Patola is described as follows: “Hridyam patolam kriminuth swadupakam ruchipradam” According to Bhava Prakasha, patola is hridyam and agni deepanam and tridoshaharam

According to Raja Nighantu and Dhanwantari Nighantu, Patola is of two type, tikta patola and swadu patola. Swadu patola is the edible one that have properties almost same as that of the tikta patola. And it is commonly used as the vegetable. Tikta patola is the wild variety and it is used in medicinal preparations. In Ashtanga Hridaya Chikitsa sthana the references for patola as a medicine in diseases like kushta, visarpa ; and also in many formulations like guggulutiktakam ghrtam, patoladi kashayam, patola muladi kashayam are available.

Swadu Patola is botanically identified as Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn. of family Cucurbitaceae. Trichosanthes cucumerina, is an annual climber belonging to the family Cucurbitaceae. It is commonly called as snake gourd, viper gourd, snake tomato or long tomato. The fruit is usually consumed as a vegetable due to its good nutritional value. Cucurbitacin, the major chemical constituent of Cucurbitaceae family have proven cardio protective activity. This article is an attempt to understand the benefits of fruit of swadu patola (Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn.) for cardio protective activity.

SWADU PATOLA (Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn.)

Part used : Fruit as vegetable


Rasam – Madhura, Katu, Tikta

Guna – Laghu

Vipakam – Madhuram

Ojasam prasayathe (enlighten the ojas), jeevanam (giving life) are the characteristic features of Madhura rasa. Hridaya is the seat of para ojas (the final essence of dhathus). And this para ojas is essential for maintaining the health of human beings. So madhura rasa has an action on hridaya to maintain a healthy condition. 

According to Susruta rasa of rakta dhathu is madhura and madhura rasa in swadu patola give support to the raktha dhathu for maintaining a healthy condition. Jeevana is the karma of rakta dhathu. Madhura rasa enhances the jeevana karma of rakta dhathu by its jeevana property.

The katu rasa have the properties like chinnathi bandhan (breaks the obstruction) and vivrunothi srotamsi (opens the channels). This supports the drug action in artherosclerosis & hypercholesterolemia. Tikta rasa by its feature of kleda meda vasa shoshana removes the excess stickiness in the vessels and clears the channel for proper circulation of blood.

Pitha dushti and obstructed kapha are involved in the samprapthi of cardiovascular diseases. The madhura, tikta rasas are capable of pacifying the pitha dushti and the katu rasa is capable of removing the obstruction of kapha. Hridaya is the centre of vyana and sadhaka pitha. Laghu guna is the characteristic feature of vata and pitha doshai. This laghu guna helps to maintain the equilibrium of these doshas and in turn maintain proper circulation of blood through its vessels.

Chemical constituents

Tannin, carotenoids, flavonoids, alkaloids, lycopene, cardiac glycoside, quercetin, cucurbitacin B, cucurbitacin E, and ascorbic acid.

Mechanism of action

By analyzing the available studies regarding the major chemical constituents the mechanism of action can be compiled as follows. The main chemical constituent cucurbitacin is having anti - artherosclerotic activity. There are reports that cucurbitacin B and E exhibit inhibitory effect on lipid oxidation products. These reports supports the therapeutic role of cucurbitacins in artherosclerosis. 

The probable mechanism underlying anti hyperglycemic effect of cucurbitacin could be stimulation of insulin release and regulation of hepatic glycogen metabolism. This suggests the Trichosanthes cucumerina L. also possess the hypoglycaemic effect. It is also a blood circulation promoter by the inhibition of Na+/K+ ATPase.

The flavonoids present in the Trichosanthes cucumerina L. by virtue of their free radical scavenging action, prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol, enhance endothelial derived Nitric oxide activity, inhibits endothelial activation and inhibit platelet aggregation. High intake of dietary flavonoids is considered to be inversely related to the risk of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).

Tannins are known to enhance the synthesis of nitric oxide and relaxes the vascular segments precontracted. This also supports the cardioprotective activity of Trichosanthes cucumerina L.

The quercetin content in the Tricosanthes cucumerina L. have numerous properties related to the causative factors of CVDs. Its supplementation in mice reduced body weight by nearly 40%and suppressed expression of fat cell metabolism and inflammation-related cytokines. Mice fed on a Quercetin-rich diet showed a reduction in blood glucose levels and blood glycated hemoglobin without any changes in insulin. Regular Quercetin supplementation provides beneficial effects on blood lipid behavior, especially in cigarette smokers who are exposed to a high degree of oxidative stress and are particularly susceptible to the development of coronary heart disease. Quercetin decreases blood pressure and reduces the severity of hypertension. Quercetin improves the health of the blood vessels by increasing the products of nitric oxide and reducing endothelin-1 concentrations. Quercetin decreases pro-inflammatory cytokines which can lead to tissue damage in humans.

Lycopene possesses significant cardio protective potential and may serve as an adjunct in treatment and prophylaxis of MI11. Carotenoids have cardio protective activity by ensuring its action on early, middle, late and terminal events of CVD12. The presence of alkaloids and cardiac glycosides suggests cardio protective activity13 of Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn.

Studies related to prove the cardioprotective activity of Trichosanthes cucumerina L.

Cardioprotective Activity of Methanol Extract of fruit of Trichosanthes cucumerina L. on Doxorubicin-induced Cardiotoxicity in Wistar Rats” have proven that Trichosanthes cucumerina L. contains cucurbitacin B, cucurbitacin E, carotenoids and ascorbic acid that are reported to have antioxidant activity. Antioxidant components provide protection against harmful free radicals that are strongly associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.

“Lipid lowering effect of hot water extract of Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn. and antihyperglycemic activity of its fractions on streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats” have proven a significant decrease in total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides levels, and a significant increase in HDL level. In addition, maximum antidiabetic effect was observed in the aqueous fraction of the hot water extract.

“Evaluation of antibacterial activity of Mimusops elengi L. flowers and Trichosanthes cucumerina L. Fruits from South India” showed significant activity against the different strains of bacteria. 

“Phyto-Constituents and Anti-Oxidant Activity of the Pulp of Snake Tomato (Trichosanthes cucumerina L.)” have proven the antioxidant property of Trichosanthes cucumerina L.


Going back to the era of nutritious diet and exercises are the only solution for the present condition of ill health. The diet that were the part of our health should get back into the pace. Traditionally used vegetables from the cucurbitaceae family should be included in the regular diet. Among them Trichosanthes cucumerina L. was a commonly used vegetable by the Keralites. From the observations in the review we can confirm that the rasa panchakas and the phytochemicals like cucurbitacin, lysogene, etc. present in the fruit of swadu patola have action even on the causative factors of CVDs. Thus it will be a good dietetic remedy even from the preventive aspect of CVDs. It is included in the shaka varga by acharyas. The dravyas described in the shaka vargas were included in the diet since long from the Vedic period. Tridosha samana property & proven anti toxicity studies of Trichosanthes cucumerina L. makes it safe for regular use. The review concludes that swadu patola can be a good adjuvant to mainstay treatment in all disciplines so as to furnish an effective protocol against CVDs.