Health Benefits of

calabash

Also known as Crescentia cujete, calabash trees are found in the regions of Africa, Central America, and South America. Calabash is a multi-purpose plant used as animal feed, pesticide, pest repellent, fuelwood, ornamental plant, and as a base for consumable beverages. Calabash also serves as an emergency food source. [1] Calabash is famous as a miracle tree owing to its health benefits. Calabash leaf and fruit extracts have medicinal properties that are beneficial for numerous health conditions including tumor growth and spread. [2]

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Anti-inflammatory Property of Calabash

Chloroform fraction (CHF) and crude ethanol extract (CEE) present in the bark and leaf extract of calabash are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. These chemicals stabilize the cell membrane as well as regulate the lysis of the lysosomal membrane. As the lysosomal membrane stays intact and lysosomal enzymes are not released, the cell maintains its integrity. This reduces tissue inflammation and prevents the extracellular spread of enzymes including harmful proteases. The anti-inflammatory activity of CHF and CEE is attributed to flavonoids that suppress inflammatory enzymes, decreasing the production of inflammatory mediators. [3]

Antibacterial Activity of Calabash

CEE and CHF of the calabash tree also demonstrate the antibacterial activity with CHF being the most potent of the two. The antibacterial activity of calabash is attributed to polyphenols and phenolic compounds. Phenols cause hyper-acidification of the bacterial cell membrane that disrupts the synthesis of ATP by the H-ATPase pump. With sufficient energy supply, bacteria are unable to survive for long and ultimately die. Flavonoids in CEE and CHF also exhibit antibacterial properties. [3] Erysipelas is a superficial bacterial skin infection that can be treated by calabash paste formed by boiling calabash with vinegar. [4, 5]

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Figure 2 demonstrates the effects of CHF and CEE on the degree of inhibition of lysis of cell membrane https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4559910/

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Figure 3 demonstrates the synthesis of different formulations and extracts from Calabash fruit pulp https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2831450/ 

Calabash for Wound Healing

Ethanol extract (EE) and ethyl acetate extract (EAE) obtained from calabash trees are known for accelerating the process of wound healing. The topical application of EE and EAE increases the rate of wound healing by promoting the gene expression of collagen I that serves as a scaffold for healing tissues. EE and EAE also stimulate angiogenesis to restore the nutrition supply of the structures undergoing repair. Flavonoids have antioxidant properties that protect from oxidative damage and further delay the wound healing process. [6]

Acaricidal Properties of Calabash

The topical application of black seed oil is effective in treating and preventing skin tumors such as papilloma and carcinoma. The primary chemical responsible for the antitumor activity is nigonol and other compounds include linoleic acid and nigellone.  [5]