Luffa cylindrica, popularly known as sponge gourd is a tropic and sub-tropical fibrous plant with fruits containing black seeds. The fruit is consumed by humans as a vegetable in many parts of Asia, while different parts of the plant are used for cosmetics and as medicine in many parts of the globe. The plant has been used in the treatment of many ailments including nose cancer, snake venom, wound healing, edema, enterobiasis, filaria, whooping cough, stomach upset, stomach pain and malaria. Many health-promoting compounds such as flavonoids (apigenin-7- glucuronide luteolin-7-O-β-D-glucuronide methyl ester, -O-feruloyl-β-D-glucose, luteolin-7-O-β-D-glucuronide methyl ester), phenolics acids (p-Coumaric, gallic, caffeic, chlorogenic), triterpenoids (oleanolic acid and echinocystic acid), saponins (Lucyoside A-M), tannins (catechin), ribosome-inactivating proteins (α- luffin), carotenoids (9 -cis neoxanthin, all-trans-lutein, all-trans-β-carotene), chlorophylls (chlorophyll a and b, pheophytin), cucurbitacin B and gypsogenin have been detected or isolated from different parts of the plants. Extracts of the plant and isolated compounds have wide spectrum pharmacological activities and have been shown to possess antiemetic, antidiabetic, antiviral, wound healing, anticancer, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, anti-bacteria, anthelmintic, hypoglycemic and antihyperglycemic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant activity, and hepato-protective effects in animal models. However, further information is needed on its safety and mechanisms of action. The present article is an updated review of the ethnobotanical uses, pharmacological actions, phytochemistry, safety, and future application of Luffa cylindrica in translational medicine.
Part of the book: Natural Drugs from Plants