Snake gourd flower
Snake gourd or serpent gourd is a vegetable obtained from Trichosanthes cucumerina, a vine found mostly in the tropical regions. The vegetable is popular in South Asian cuisine. The shoots, leaves, flowers all have medicinal value. This soft fleshy vegetable can grow to a length of 1 m to 1.5 m and has a bland taste. Snake gourd flower is well known for its alkaline property.
Poriyal (Tamil word for dish made from shallow frying of vegetables or flowers) made from thoroughly washed snake gourd flowers is good for the eyes. People with burning sensation or itching in the eyes due to ‘body heat’ can take this regularly for a few days to cool their bodies.
Juice extracted from the flowers (this can be done by crushing the flowers) is mixed with papaya latex and the ensuing paste is applied on eczema, scabies etc. Regular application of this mixture is very effective in curing these skin conditions.
One cure for dry cough is to mix honey with snake gourd flower juice (the juice should be slightly heated and then brought to room temperature before mixing). The mixture should be applied externally on the throat as a thin layer. Regular application results in quick healing of dry cough.
Vallarai herb grows abundantly in shady areas by the side of rivers and water bodies. This herb is called brain tonic because of its action on brain tissues. It enhances memory, intelligence, complexion, voice etc. It is an excellent herb for anemia. Flowers of this herb also serve the same purpose.
Vallarai flowers can be dried in sunlight and then powdered to a fine consistency. This can be taken with milk. This is an excellent memory enhancer. The same can be mixed in tender coconut water and taken once in the mornings. This helps alleviate tuberculosis symptoms.
Bitter melon flower
Bitter melon or bitter gourd is the most bitter of all fruits that grows widely in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean etc. Known for its distinctive warty exterior, bitter melon comes in different varieties and shapes. The leaves and shoots of the bitter melon plant are eaten as greens. Tea made from the leaves is used in preventing and treating malaria. It has substances like charantin and lectin which have hypoglycemic properties.
Bitter melon flowers have anti bacterial and anti viral properties. The juice obtained by crushing the flowers is an excellent vermifuge. This is taken orally for expulsion of worms from the intestines.
Ajwain water (Caraway seeds) is added to crushed bitter gourd flowers and taken in the mornings and evenings. This is a very effective remedy for painful, bloated stomach.
Decoction of bitter gourd flower is an excellent remedy for controlling blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. For this eight to ten bitter gourd flowers are taken and boiled in four glasses of water. The water is reduced to one glass and allowed to cool. This is taken in the mornings on empty stomach.
The flowers are dried in sunlight for a couple of days. The dried flowers are added to buttermilk and taken in the mornings for a week or two. This is found to be an excellent cleanser.