Wild cucumber, also known by the name Echinocystis lobate, is a member of the gourd family, the Cucurbitaceae.
Parts of this family are the melons – Cucumis, domestic cucumbers – Cucumis sativus, pumpkins, and squashes – Cucurbita. The wild cucumber is an annual plant which means that it grows each spring and usually dies in the autumn.
It makes no woody tissue. Actually, it’s a climbing vine that has long twisted tendrils that entwine the branches, stems, or leaves of other plants. Usually, it’s sprawling in the low branches of a tree. Also, it can be found as a dense mat on the open ground, or next to waterways.
Its name comes from the resemblance of its fruit to that of the cucumber.
Its fruit looks like a rounded and small cultivated cucumber with prickles. The green, puffy pods which have soft, long spines grow around 2 inches long. However, the fruits aren’t edible and might lead to burning reactions in certain people.
When the fruit of the wild cucumber is ripe, it becomes brown and dry. Moreover, the capsules open in order to eject the seeds. Each pod has 4 flat, large brown or black seeds, 2 in each of the cavities in the pod.
However, it seems that there is more to wild cucumber than we know. Read on to find out more.
Based on a recent study a compound in wild cucumber might help improve the control of blood glucose levels.
A study from the University of California, Davis came to the discovery that one compound by the name cucurbitacin which is the reason for the bitter taste might help diabetes management.
Cucurbitacin is a compound that makes watermelon, wild cucumber and pumpkin taste bitter. Moreover, this compound comes with many health benefits.
The study came to the discovery that the compound the name cucurbitacin might significantly lower blood glucose levels. And in that way helps treat or prevent diabetes. Although it was mainly in mice, the reduction of the blood sugar levels was considerable.
According to previous studies lowered blood glucose levels might be seen after half an hour, and great reductions occur after 4 hours.
This study is in collaboration with Chinese researchers. As a matter of fact, the leaves and fruit of cucurbits have been used for medicinal benefits for thousands of years in China and India.
According to the University of California, the leaves are used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Mainly to treat liver disease.
The study investigator, Sanwen Huang Lucas, says that this research demonstrates how domestication tweaked the genetics of the cucumber to make it more edible.
Furthermore, understanding that process might open approaches to making other food crops according to plants that are naturally poor in nutrition or inedible. Moreover, it might also be easier to make cucurbitacins in big quantities in order to use them in medicine or even clinical trials.