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HEALTH BENEFITS OF EGUSI

This is another species in the family cucurbitaceae; it is known as egusi. It resembles common watermelon vine, but bears small, hard fruits with a bitter pulp. The seed inside it is egusi.

Egusi is packed with many vital and beneficial nutrients which are good for the body and these nutrients are not limited to protein, potassium, vitamin B1, sulphur, fats, calcium, magnesium, carbohydrate, zinc, copper, vitamins A, E and C, manganese, dietary fibre and more.

People erroneously believe that egusi is fattening, so they eat soya beans as a substitute. Running from egusi to soya beans is like running from safety to danger!  Soya beans has anti-nutrients that are dangerous to our health and the only safe way to eat it is through fermentation. Egusi is traditionally used for soup along with other condiments in Yorubaland. The shelled seeds are also fried and the oil is extracted; the seeds are then ground, seasoned and rolled into balls for frying into a delicacy called robo.

According to a research titled anti-obesity and anti-hyperlipidemic effect of citrullus colocynthis oil in the offspring of obese rats by Radjaa kaouthar Meziane et al., the study aims to test the effect of colocynth oil extracted from seeds of citrullus colocynthis on the offsprings of obese Wistar rats. To test the effect of colocynth oil on the offsprings of obese wistar rats, three groups of n = 6 were investigated.  Group one was the control which consisted of offsprings of control mothers fed with an iso-caloric diet of four per cent sunflower oil; group two consisted of offsprings of obese mothers fed with high-calorie diet (32 per cent sunflower oil) and group three consisted of offsprings of obese mothers fed with a high-calorie diet (a mixture of 28 per cent sunflower oil and four per cent oil of colocynth).  After eight weeks of diet, the offsprings were sacrificed. Blood and organs were harvested. Weight, blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides were measured. Results showed a significant decrease in body weight in offsprings of obese mothers fed a diet of colocynth oil compared to obese rats, but remain almost parallel to that of controls.

Furthermore, the glucose values remained within physiological limits in groups one and three while those of group two increased significantly. On lipid markers, a significant increase of triglycerides in obese rats was scored compared with controls. The same result was found for cholesterol. For rats receiving oil of colocynth, these values remained in the standards. This study suggests that colocynth oil has a lowering effect on weight control, lipid profile and glucose in offsprings of obese rats. So, you can now start eating egusi without the fear of gaining weight. I want you to also know that it is sugar (from carbohydrates like fufu, rice, yam, amala etc) that makes us fat, not fat!

There are testimonies to the detoxification and weight loss effect of the fruit of  citrullus colocynthis. Women who have difficulty in getting pregnant have come out to testify to the fact that the fruit unblocks fallopian tubes. In fact, most of them get pregnant after using it! What they do is to cut a whole fruit into bits, remove the egusi seeds and then boil with fermented corn water (omi ogi).The only downside is that it has an excessive laxative effect. It is used for not less than four weeks and the dosage is half a glass cup once a week. If it over-purges you, take a bath–a shower from the head.

In Arabia, the colocynth had numerous uses in traditional medicine, such as a laxative, diuretic, or for insect bites. The powder of colocynth was sometimes used externally with aloes, unguents, or bandages. In traditional Arab veterinary medicine, colocynth sap was used to treat skin eruptions in camels. The oil obtained from the seeds can be used for soap production. Egusi oil is recommended as edible oil for cooking and frying and also as a food supplement because of its high content of essential fatty acids and its positive health benefits on serum lipids. Oleic and linoleic acids isolated from C. colocynthis show larvicidal activity against mosquitoes.

The dried, unripe fruit pulp constitutes the drug ‘colocynth’, which is a very strong laxative. It is also used as an anti-rheumatic, anthelmintic, hydrogogue, and as a remedy for skin infections. The fruits and seeds are used in the treatment of diabetes. The roots have purgative properties and used in the treatment of jaundice, rheumatism and urinary diseases.

In a review  titled citrullus colocynthis : A review of its phytochemistry, pharmacology, traditional uses and nutritional potential in the Journal of Ethnopharmacolgy by Abdullah I.Hussain et al. it was revealed that the plant has been reported to possess a wide range of traditional medicinal uses including in diabetes, leprosy, common cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis, jaundice, joint pain, cancer, toothache, wound, mastitis, and in gastrointestinal disorders such as indigestion, constipation, dysentery, colic pain and different microbial infections. Several bioactive chemical constituents from the fruits were recorded: glycosides, flavonoids, alkaloids, fatty acids and essential oils. The isolation and identification of curcurbitacins A, B, C, D, E, I, J, K, and L and Colocynthosides A, and B were also reported. The fruit has been studied extensively for its wide range of biological activities, which include antioxidant, cytotoxic, antidiabetic, antilipidemic, insecticide, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. The plant was also shown to be rich in nutritional value with high protein contents and important minerals as well as edible quality of seed oil. The review concluded that it is evident from the literature that citrullus colocynthis possesses a wide range of medicinal uses and has been well studied for its antidiabetic, anti-cancer, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities, while its therapeutic potential for gut, airways and cardiovascular disorders remains to be explored.

Critical analysis revealed that the plant has the huge potential for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical application, with some indications for the presence of synergistic and /or side effects neutralising combinations of activities.

@ OLUFUNKE @ Punch Newspaper

About Dotun Olanibi

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