Cucurbita moschata

scientific name: 
Cucurbita moschata Duchesne
Cucurbita pepo var. moschata Duch. ex Lam.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Annual herbaceous, trailing vine. Stem slightly woody, rounded or slightly 5-angled; tendrils coiling and branching; leaves simple, shallowly lobed, pubescent 20 x 30 cm, petiole 12-30 cm long; flowers unisexual, solitary, petals yellowish-orange, up to 15 cm long; fruits dull in colour, globose, sometimes cylindrical or pyriform, at least 15cm long, often with rounded ridges.





  leaf, juice, applied locally 2


  flower, decoction or infusion, orally2

asthenia, weakness:

  leaf, broth, orally1


  leaf, aqueous maceration, orally1

The fruit and the flower of Cucurbita moschata are widely used for human consumption.

For asthenia and weakness

There is no available information establishing a means of preparation and dosage other than that referred to by traditional use.

For jaundice:

Prepare a decoction or infusion with 5-7 grams of flowers in 250 mL (1 cup) of water. In the case of the decoction, boil for at least 10 minutes in a covered pot; for infusion, add boiling water to 5 grams of flower.  Filter, cool down and drink 1 cup 3 times a day28.

For burns:

Wash injury with boiled water and soap.  Apply the leaf juice in sufficient quantity to affected area.  Cover injury with dressing or clean cloth and replace twice a day.

According to published and other information:

Use for burns is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys and toxicity studies.

Use should be limited only to superficial burns (skin injury) that are not extensive (covering less than 10% of body surface) and are located away from high-risk areas such as face, hands, feet and genitals.

For topical application, strict hygiene measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.

Use for jaundice, asthenia and weakness is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

Due to the health risks involved in hepatic disorders, an initial medical evaluation is recommended.  The use of this resource can be considered complementary to medical treatment, unless it is contraindicated.  Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should jaundice last more than 3 days, seek medical attention.

Not for use during pregnancy, during lactation or by children under 3 years old.

TRAMIL Research22

The leaf juice (100%), the fruit juice (100%) and the aqueous maceration of the seed administered orally to mice showed an LD50 higher than 25 g/kg.  By intraperitoneal administration the following LD50 values were obtained:

- leaf aqueous extract:

over 25 g/kg

- leaf juice:

8.9 ± 0.6 g/kg

- macerated seed:

8.8 ± 1.8 g/kg

- fruit juice:

13.5 ± 0.8 g/kg

The aqueous fluid extract of the entire plant (1 g plant material/mL) administered orally (up to 18.75 g/kg) to mice for 30 days did not cause deaths.

The fruit juice (100%) and the entire plant, neutralized to pH 7, by intraperitoneal administration (25 g/kg), caused peritoneal irritation characterized by a body position denoting abdominal pain, diarrhea and hypoactivity. Pathological study showed massive peritoneal irritation and abundant deposits of fibrinoid substances.

TRAMIL Research23

The aqueous and hydroalcoholic extracts (80%) from the leaf in human lymphocyte culture and in the MOLT-4 model showed cellular toxicity levels that were significantly lower than in the control.

TRAMIL Research14

The juice and aqueous extract (1:1) from the leaf applied according to the Draize method modified by Finkelstein for cutaneous toxicity, in groups of 9 albino New Zealand rabbits, strain UniValle, did not produce evidence of toxicity or local irritability.

In the Soviet Pharmacopoeia, an oily solution applied in compresses and in the form of emulsions is cited, for treating chronic skin ailments and burns24.

Cucurbitin shows low toxicity in in human25 and dog25-26.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in women during pregnancy or while breast feeding.

The entire plant contains citric, fumaric, succinic, malic and p-hydroxybenzoic acids, vitamin C10, xylitol (96.5 mg/100 g of dry plant)11 and ferulic acid6.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of leaf13: calories: 30; water: 89.7%; proteins: 3.6%; fat: 0.6%; carbohydrates: 4.5%; ash: 1.6%; calcium: 138 mg; phosphorus: 99 mg; iron: 3.7 mg; carotene: 1650 µg; thiamine: 0.14 mg.

TRAMIL Research14

The leaf juice and aqueous extract (1:1), evaluated using the modified Bianchi-David method (first- and second-degree burns regulated by electrocauterization on the skin of rabbit’s back), did not show any differences as to healing or local anti-inflammatory activity.

TRAMIL Research29(will be translated in 3rd Edition)

El extracto acuoso (1.7% decocción), de la hoja, se administró en forma tópica en ambas caras de la oreja derecha (333.33, 500. 666.67 mg/oreja, en un volumen de 10 µL) en el modelo de inflamación inducida por aplicación de acetato de tetradecanoiforbol (T.P.A.) (0.125 mg/mL) durante 4 horas, en ratón Hsd:ICR (CD-1), grupos de 6 machos y 6 hembras. El control negativo recibió acetona (10 µL/oreja) y el grupo control positivo fue tratado con indometacina (25 mg/mL). No se observó inhibición de la inflamación estadísticamente significativa en ninguno de los grupos tratados.

TRAMIL Research30(will be translated in 3rd Edition)

El zumo de hoja obtenido por maceración, no mostró actividad antimicrobiana in vitro a una concentración de 1000 µg/mL contra Staphylococcus aureus ni Staphylococcus saprophyticus.

The carotenes contained in the fruit and in a higher amount in the flower13 act as inducers of DNA repair mechanisms20.




1 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

2 WENIGER B, 1987-88 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

3 WHO, 1991 Pautas para la evaluación de medicamentos herbarios WHO/TRM/91.4 (original inglés). Programa de Medicina Tradicional, OMS, Ginebra, Suiza.

6 DUKE JA, 2000 Chemicals and their Biological Activities in: Cucurbita moschata. Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. USDA-ARS-NGRL, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, USA, August 10, 2000. URL:

10 HEGNAUER R, 1973 Chemotaxonomy der Pflanzen. Basel, Schweiz: Birkhauser Verlag. 6:882.

11 WASHUTTL J, Reiderer P, Bancher E, 1973 A qualitative and quantitative study of sugar-alcohols in several foods. J Food Sci 38:1262-1263.

13 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p55.

14 HERRERA J, 1992 Determinación de parámetros farmacológicos usados en Medicina Tradicional Popular en la Cuenca del Caribe. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Fitofarmacología, Dep. de Farmacología, Facultad de Salud, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.

20 VILENCHIK M, 1989 Fundamentos biológicos del envejecimiento y la longevidad. Moscú, URSS: Ed. MIR.

22 HERRERA J, 1990 Determinación de parámetros farmacológicos de vegetales utilizados en medicina tradicional en la cuenca del Caribe. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Fitofarmacología, Dep. de Farmacología, Facultad de Salud, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.

23 WENIGER B, 1992 Cytotoxicité, effets immunodulateurs et morphologique des extraits éthanolique 80% et aqueux de feuille deCucurbita. Rapport TRAMIL. Faculté de Pharmacie, Université de Strasbourg, Illkirch, France.

24 HURTADO M, CARBALLO A, 1990 Las plantas medicinales TRAMIL en la farmacopea Soviética. Centro de Investigaciones de Fitoterapia y Medicina Tradicional, Topes de Collantes, Cuba.

25 PARIS R, MOYSE H, 1981 Précis de matière médicale. Paris, France: Ed. Maloine.

26 CHEN ZK, PU TC, LI DY, JIANG HA, 1980 Therapeutic effect of cucurbitine on dog taeniasis.Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao1(2):124-126.

28 ALBORNOZ A, 1993 Medicina tradicional herbaria. Guía de Fitoterapia. Caracas, Venezuela: Editorial Instituto Farmacoterápico Latino S.A. p226.

29 PAZOS L, COTO T, CAIZA F, 2008 Antiinflamatorio tópico, en ratones, de la hoja de Curcubita moschata. Informe TRAMIL, Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos, LEBi, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

30 LUCIANO-MONTALVO C, GAVILLAN-SUAREZ J, 2009 Actividades antimicrobianas de partes de plantas con usos significativos en encuestas etnofarmacológicas TRAMIL.Informe TRAMIL,Instituto de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias, Cayey, Universidad de Puerto Rico.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.