Calabash tree, scientifically known as Crescentia cujete has been used by local communities as remedy for several illnesses. Because of its many uses in folkloric healing, Calabash tree is considered as miracle tree of General Santos City.
Inspired with the indigenous knowledge on Calabash tree, biology students of Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City undertook a study to determine the active ingredients of Calabash tree potential for medical uses.
Analysis showed that Calabash fruit and leaf extracts contain flavonoids such as quercetin and anthraquinone, the important phytochemicals for antiangiogenic activities, a process that inhibits the growth and development of new blood vessels in the body.
Antiangiogenesis controls the spread of tumour cells in the body by disabling the transport of nutrients toward the cancerous cells. Normally, tumour starts from a single cell and divides to make more cancer cells. The growth of malignant cells will depend on the availability of specific nutrients being transported by blood vessels.
In laboratory experiments, the researchers have analyzed the effects of calabash extracts (fruit and leaf extracts) to duck eggs. The extracts have successfully halted the formation of new blood vessels as shown by the lower number of branching points in ducks embryo compared to the control samples.
With these findings, researchers claimed that calabash extracts has the ability to prevent blood vessel growth and development and could be used to help prevent the spread of cancer cells in the human body. Researchers also believe that calabash tree could be a natural resource that can be used in the development of cheaper and locally available anti-cancer treatments.
This study won 3rd prize during the Gruppo Medica Award for outstanding undergraduate thesis in herbal medicine during the 7th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week held in Plaza del Norte Hotel and Convention Center, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.
Calabash fruit found potential in lowering blood sugar
In a study conducted by Davao Medical School Foundation in Davao City confirmed that Calabash fruit has a blood sugar lowering effect to the tested animals.
Calabash fruit (Crescentia cujete) commonly known as “Miracle Tree” has been used as folkloric medicine in treating many illnesses including hyperglycemia, a condition in which a person has an increased blood sugar (glucose) in the body.
The researchers administered calabash fruit decoction (juice from boiled calabash fruit) to hyperglycemia-induced rabbits and compared effects to Metformin, a standard drug for the treatment of diabetics (positive control) and a mineral water treatment (negative control).
Analysis revealed that calabash fruit decoction and Metformin treated rabbits showed a significant decreased in the amount of blood sugar in the body. While rabbits administered with mineral water solution have constant high blood sugar levels. According to the study, the decrease of blood sugar level was attributed to the effects of phytochemicals found in calabash fruit responsible for the release of insulin that lowers blood sugar in the tested animals.
The researchers also tested calabash fruit for toxicity and found non-toxic to tested animals.
With these findings, the researchers concluded that calabash fruits are potential natural resource for the development of cheaper and locally available hypoglycemic drugs.