Crescentia cujete L.

Nota de alcance

DIVERSIDAD GENÉTICA Y MEJORAMIENTO DE PLANTAS MEDICINALES= Medicinal plants and improvement of medicinal herbs

Crescentia cujete L. is a widely distributed medicinal tree with a diverse range of phytochems. used as medicinal compds. Seedlings of wild-harvested C. cujete were established in vitro and used as the starting material for the establishment of axenic cultures. Shoots were proliferated from nodal segments and were maintained over a period of more than 2 yr by sequential subculture on a medium contg. 1.0 mmol l-1 kinetin. De novo regeneration was induced on petiole sections cultured onto a medium contg. thidiazuron in combination with 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Axenic cultures were also used to test the efficiency of three different cultivation systems for prodn. of biomass of C. cujete. Growth of plantlets in a temporary immersion bioreactor resulted in significant increases in biomass, leaf no., shoot height and transplant efficiency. Plantlets grown in the bioreactors were acclimatized under greenhouse conditions. Together, these expts. have established optimized parameters for propagation and growth of C. cujete plantlets in a sterile controlled environment for biochem. characterization and prodn. of high-quality medicinal products.

Nota de alcance

ÚLTIMOS AVANCES EN LA QUÍMICA Y ACTIVIDADES BACTERIOLÓGICAS EN LAS PLANTAS MEDICINALES= Medicinal plants, last advances on chemistry and bacteria activities on the medicinal herbs

The petroleum ether, chloroform and methanol exts. of the stem bark of crescentia cujete revealed the presence of three compds. for petroleum ether and chloroform exts. resp. and six compds. for methanol ext. using solvent systems CHCl-MeOH-H2O(65:15:10) upper layer and n-BuOH-AA-H2O(5:1:4) lower layer.  The phytochem. screening of these exts. revealed the presence of alkaloids, tannins, glycosides, saponins steroids and flavonoids.  Clin. isolates of Staphylococcus aureus a gram-pos. organism showed 100% susceptibility to the crude exts. while Escherichia coli a gram-neg. organism showed only 40% susceptibility to these crude exts.

The title natural product I, which possesses a new ring skeleton, has been synthesized by a sequence in which the key steps involve a tandem intramol. Diels-Alder/reverse Diels-Alder reaction sequence.  Thus 3-(2-furyl)-1,4-dimethoxynaphthalen-2-ol was treated with Et 3-bromopropiolate, and without isolation, the resulting acetylenic ether was heated in the presence of 3,6-di(pyridin-2-yl)-1,2,4,5-tetrazine.  Intramol. addn. of the pendant acetylenic chain to the furan ring followed by cycloaddn. of the electron-deficient tetrazine and subsequent cycloreversion delivered Et 5,10-dimethoxyfuro[3,2-b]naphtho[2,3-d]furan-3-carboxylate, which has the ring system of the natural product.  Functional group manipulation then provided

The pulp of calabash fruit (Crescentia cujete) has been studied for its nutritive and anti-nutritive compns. in both the wet and dry samples.  The values of the ash; 3.74% (dry), ether ext.; 4.38% (wet) crude protein; 7.67% (wet) and 10.01% (dry), crude fiber; 4.88% (dry), carbohydrate; 15.65% (wet) and 68.13% (dry) and dry matter; 31.32% (wet) and 87.48% (dry) are quite reasonable for fruits.  Both the wet and dry samples have very high concns. of the mineral elements.  Sodium (Na) has the highest values of 3.20% (wet) and 0.32% (dry), while calcium has the least values of 0.12% (wet) and 0.06% (dry).  The pulp has very high values of Thiamin; 1.50 mg g-1 (wet) and 0.93 mg g-1 (dry).  Both the wet and dry pulp samples have reasonable values of phytochems. and are free from HCN toxicity.  The pulp can make useful contributions to human nutrition and health.

Nota de alcance (en)


Central and South America Fig. 36. Crescentia cujete. a t.s. of midrib, b t.s. of leaf blade (x 16). c upper epidermis in surface view.

Historical background

According to Briicher, Crescentia was domesticated by Indians at distant places and independently, due to the easy propagation. Attractive mutations in size and shape have been selected and survived with the indigenous population ,even in face of the present competition of cheap plastic containers' BRUCHER (1989).


Tropical America. In Venezuela the plant has an ample distribution and is also cultivated in hot regions.

Ethnobotanical and general use

Nutritional use
Young seeds which are rich in oil, are edible and taste good when cooked and fried or toasted. The seeds contain sugars (2.6 %), proteins (8 %), and oil (37 %: oleic acid, linolic acid and saturated oleic acids).

Medical use
Name of the drug: Crescentia cujete L. semen, folia, fructus, cortex. The fruit is most frequently used in popular medicine, the leaves and the cortex are also applied, but the flowers are more rarely used. Leaf Haemorrhage, cicatrization and ulcers are cured by a sap of the leaves or by macerated leaves. In infusion, the leaves are used against palpitations, hypertension, flu, pneumonia, coughs, catarrh, and diarrhoea. Diarrhoea, diabetes, indigestion, palpitations and nervous irritations are cured with a decoction of the leaves. A less concentrated decoction is taken orally for women's diseases. Besides the leaves, also flowers and entire twigs serve for a vaginal bath. Leaves applied locally on the abdomen facilitate child birth. The sap sqeezed from the leaves removes pimples and freckels from the skin. Locally Fig. 39. Crescentia cujete. a part of the fruit wall with interwoven fibers. b Seed x 6.3. applied, the leaves also serve as a hair tonic. The heated sap of the leaves is locally used against eara
he. The leaves are chewed to treat toothache.

Fresh cortex is used to ease child birth. In decoction and taken orally it accelerates child birth. Cortex is furthermore applied against haemorrhoids, prurigo of the genitals, vaginal colic, and whoopig cough. The cortex is said to have calmative effects. It has been proved that the fresh cortex has antibacterial properties (50 mg/ml: GUPTA 1995). The juice squeezed from the inner bark is used to treat bruises of the eyes. Fruit. A decoction of the fruit cures respiratory irritations and phthisis; it has also purgative and abortive effects, particularly in cattle. The sap of the fruit toasted and mixed with honey stimulates mestruation. Fruit juice with honey favours induction of birh and ejection of the placenta or dead foetus. Pulp taken as a syrup or as an infusion calms asthma. The pulp as a syrup taken orally is likewise used against respiratory (bronchitis asthma) and gastrointestinal (colic, constipation, hepatitis) irritations, inflammations and urethritis. Diluted in water, the pulp is taken against irritations of the liver and to cure palpitations, hypertension, flu, and pneumonia. The cooked pulp (plain or in sweet soup) is taken as a febrifuge, purgative, expectorant, vermifuge, against diarrhoea and to soothe head ache. The raw pulp is effective against red ascaris. Clear distinction has to be made between the use of the raw and the cooked pulp: The fruit eaten raw is antidiarrhoeic and antiinflammatory, whereas the cooked pulp has purgative effects. A certain conformity with the use of the apple - raw or cooked - becomes obvious in this case! Crude pulp used externally and locally as an ointment cures psoriasis and sunstroke; it also kills mites . Fresh fruit and twigs locally and externally applied cure irritations of the skin and help as a haemostatic. The pulp is locally applied against dermatitis, leucorrhoea, haemorrhoids, tumors, and to eject the placenta. The slightly heated put on the breast as a cataplasm cures angina pectoris and pulmonar d iseases. In the following recipe, the fruit is d g and vessel at once: the dried fruit is filled with cognac, the content is left to macerate for one week and then 2 cups are taken of it every 3 days, to cure tuberculosis and astma. Seeds. The seeds are not only edible, when toasted, they are also used medically. The sap squeezed out of the seeds mixed with honey is applied against menstrual pain and to regulate menstruation. It is furthermore used as an abortive for cattle. The seeds have, however, no antibiotic effects.

Method of use
The plant is used externally and internally. Locally, it is used as a cataplasm. Crude pulp, leaves, seeds, twigs are useful. A decoction or infusion (fruit, leaves), possibly mixed with honey or as a syrup, is applied, as well as the entire fruit macerated with cognac. The cortex is used fre sh or in decoction, either externally or internally.

Healing properties
Leaves: antiinflammatory, antibacterial, abortive, emollient.

Cortex: Has mainly calmative and antimicrobial effects .

Fruit: The fruit shows most of the h ealing properties being purgative, laxative, emetic, emollient, pectoral, antidiarrhoeic, expectorant, astringent, vermifuge, febrifuge, contraceptive, aboritve, antidiarrhoeic, antiinflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic, calmative, tonic, antidiabetic, reconstituent, sudorific, vulnerary, analgesic, emmenagogic, haemostatic, aperitive, and child birth accelerant.

Seeds: Calmative, abortive.

Chemical contents
The leaves contain flavonoids, triterpenes, phenolic compounds, sterols, and caffeic acid. The wood contains naphtho quinones. The fruit pulp contains crescentic, tartaric, citric, tannic and cyanhydric acid. Alkaloids and polyphenols were also found in the fruit. The seeds contain oleic acid, sugars (2.6 % ), proteins (8 %), oil (37 %). The antiinflammatory effects are ascribed to the flavonoids apigenine and quercetin. The antiinflammatory and antiallergic properties of flavonoids are well known. The effect of the antiinflammatory property depends on the dose used; 1200 mg/kg are effective for 24 hours.

The plant is toxic for birds and small mammals. The pulp can produce severe diarrhoea and is suspected to be carcinogenic.


Whole plant: Diuretic, used against hydropsy and diarrhoea

Leaf: Infusion for a cholagogue and purgative. Boiled with sugar, soft grease or Buckley's white rub, and sugar in a syrup for colds. Juice of young leaves is drunk to remedy colds and lung diseases in Surinam. Leaf used to cleanse dirty wounds.

Leaf Toxicity: infusion is vomitive if too concentrated.

Fruit: Juice for diarrhoea, pneumonia and intestinal irregularity. Fruit-pulp  in a mix to relieve severe menstrual pains by eliminating blood clots; emetic. Pulp for a purgativea and vermifuge.  Syrup for consumption. To ease birth in NW Guyana.
Fruit Tocicity: as a tea for abortion. Fruit-pulp for abortion, vomitive.

Nota de alcance

PARTE UTILIZADA= Used part: Hojas, fruto. 

ACCIÓN FARMACOLÓGICA= Pharmacological action: Analgésico, antiséptico, aperitivo, calmante, desinflamante, emenagogo, emético, expectorante, pectoral, purgante.

COMPOSICIÓN QUÍMICA= Chemical composition: La pulpa del fruto contiene ácidos crescéntico, tratánico, cítrico, tánico y cianhídrico (Chopra, 1986). También en el fruto se han detectado alcaloides cuaternarios y polifenoles. Además se reportan lapachona, ácido gentísico y 1,4-naftoquinona, 2-(1`-hidroxietil)-hidroxifurano. Las semillas contienen ácido oleico (Grenaid, 1987). El tamizaje fitoquímico realizado a las hojas de Crescentia cujete ha detectado la presencia de flavonoides, esteroles, triterpenos y compuestos fenólicos. La pulpa cruda contiene ácidos orgánicos (cianhídrico, clorogénico, cítrico, crescéntico, tánico y tartánico), alcaloides y polifenoles (Guzamán, 1975; Robinau, 1991). El tamizaje fitoquímico demuestra alcaloides cuaternarios, cromóforos hidrofílicos, esteroides triterpénicos, flavonoides y polifenoles (Pinto, 1980). Las semillas contienen azúcares (2,6%), proteínas (8%) y un aceite fijo (37%) parecido al aceite de oliva, que consiste de ácidos oleico (59,4%), linoleico (19,3%) y saturados (19,7%). Las hojas contienen naftoquinonas (Morton, 1981; Robinau, 1991). Se ha registrado la presencia de 6-deshidro, 5-hidroxilapachona y 1,4-naftoquinona, 2-(1`-hidroxietil)-8-hidroxifurano en la madera y el ácido gentísico en la hoja. Un screening fitoquímico preliminar muestra la presencia, en el fruto, de alcaloides cuaternarios, de cromóforos lipófilos y de polifenoles. La pulpa del fruto contiene ácido cianhídrico y otros ácidos orgánicos. En la madera de la planta se encuentran naftoquinonas. Las semillas de la planta son sobre todo ricas en ácido oleico (Blohm, 1962; Badami & Shanbagh, 1975; Chen, 1983). En la India, Satyavathi (1984) reportó la presencia de fenoles y leucoantocianinas en las hojas, pero ausencia de alcaloides. Joseph & Bourgeois (1989) reportaron que los principales constituyentes de esta planta podrían ser derivados de la apigenina y de la quercetina, lo que podría ser relacionado con la actividad antiinflamatoria del extracto etanólico de la hoja, ya que muchos trabajos demostraron las propiedades antiinflamatoria y antialérgica de los flavonoides. 

ZONA GEOGRÁFICA= Geografical zone: Brasil. 


Parte empleada: hoja y rama.
Usos: asma y rápida expulsión del bebé.
Preparación: Para asma, preparar un té con raíz de alacrancillo y tomar. Para la rápida expulsión del bebé, preparar un té con un pedazo de una rama o cáscara del fruto y colocar un gallito (planta que parece sábila en chiquito, y crece encima de los árboles). Tomar y en aproximadamente 10 minutos de produce el parto.


Nativo del norte de Centro América y México, frecuentemente cultivado en regiones tropicales secas por abajo de 500 m s.n.m. (GENTRY, 1980), eventualmente hasta 1,320 msnm (BERNAL & CORREA, 1989).
La especie se encuentra distribuida en Bocas Del Toro, Chiriquí, Darién, Los Santos, Panamá, Kunayala, Veraguas y área del Canal (CORREA, et al, 2004).

Usos etnomédicos y modo de empleo:
En toda la región la pulpa del fruto se usa para tratar afecciones respiratorias (asma, bronquitis, catarro, pulmonía, resfrío, tos) (ROIG, 1988) y gastrointestinales (cólico, estreñimiento, hepatitis), inflamación y uretritis (DÍAZ, 1977; AYENSU, 1981; MORTON, 1981; GERMOSÉN ROBINEAU, 1995). Por vía tópica la decocción de hojas y flores se usa en lavados vaginales para leucorrea, en dolor de oídos, afecciones de la piel (dermatitis, golpes, raspones), como hemostático, para tratar hemorroides, tumores, expulsar la placenta y contra ponzoñas animales (ESCOBAR, 1972; GUZMÁN, 1975; NÚÑEZ, 1978; FIGUEROA, 1983); las hojas se usan para tratar la anemia (BARRETT, 1994). En México, la corteza fresca se usa para facilitar el parto y el jugo de semillas mezclado con miel como abortivo en el ganado; en el Caribe, el extracto acuoso de hojas se usa oralmente para tratar hipertensión (AYENSU, 1981). En Malasia, la pulpa del fruto se usa como veneno para aves y pequeños mamíferos (MORTON, 1968); la infusión de hojas se usa localmente como demulcente y en infusión como antitusivo (ILHAM, et al, 1995). En la India, la pulpa del fruto se usa como diurético (AGARWAL & POPLI, 1992). Las semillas por vía oral se usan como antiveneno (SELVANAYAHGAM, 1994). La pulpa del fruto se uso en medicina veterinaria para tratar afecciones respiratorias, inflamación de la ubre, expulsión de placenta y para el cólico del ganado (ASPROAL, 1999). El uso forestal es como sombra y ornato; la madera se usa para leña y para fabricar mangos de herramientas (NIEMBRO, 1990). A las hojas y fruto se les atribuyen propiedades analgésica, antiséptica, aperitiva, calmante, desinflamante, emenagoga, emética, expectorante, laxante, pectoral, purgante, reconstituyente, sudorífica, vermífuga y vulneraria (CÁCERES, 1996).

Loreto. Cultivado en toda la Amazonía

Parasitosis intestinal: el cocimiento de cuatro hojas se bebe caliente, en ayunas.

Fiebres: se toma el cocimiento de la pulpa del fruto.
Bronquitis: extraer el jugo de los frutos verdes; cocido directamente al fuego, se le agrega limón y miel de abeja; tomar una cucharada tres veces al día durante una semana.

Nota bibliográfica

1) 270 (doscientos setenta) plantas medicinales iberoamericanas. Santiago de Bogotá : CYTED-SECAB, 1995, pp.180-184.

2) MURCH, Susan J., et al. In vitro Culture and Temporary Immersion Bioreactor Production of Crescentia cujete. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture . 2004, vol.78, nº1, p.63-68.
3) NWOKONKWO, D. C. Phytochemical screening and antibacterial activity of the stem of Crescentia cujete (ugbugba). Journal of Chemical Society of Nigeria . 2010, vol.35, nº2, p.112-115.
4) NIELSEN, Linda B.; SLAMET, Riskiono; WEGE, Dieter.  The synthesis of 3-hydroxymethylfuro[3,2-b]naphtho[2,3-d]furan-5,10-dione, a novel metabolite isolated from Crescentia cujete. Tetrahedron . 2009, vol.65, nº23, p.4569-4577 .
5) OGBUAGU, Marc Nwosu.  The nutritive and anti-nutritive compositions of calabash (Crescentia cujete) fruit pulp.  Journal of Food Technology (Faisalabad, Pakistan) . 2008, vol.6, nº6, p.267-270.

6) Robertt, A., et al.. Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana)/Smithsonian NMNH. cited online: 17-08-2017.

7) Plantas medicinales de La Matamba y El Piñonal, municipio de Jamapa, Veracruz/ Escamilla Pérez, Blanca Edith; Moreno Casaola, Patricia. INECOL: Mexico, 2015, 99p.

8) Gupta, Mahabir P.; Santana, Ana Isabel; Espinosa, Alex/ Plantas medicinales de Panamá. sd: sd. - p. sd.

9) Mejía, Kember; Rengifo, Eisa /Plantas medicinales de uso popular en la Amazonía Peruana.-- Lima : Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, 2000. -- p. 286

Crescentia cujete L.
Término aceptado: 05-Sep-2007