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Colocynth / Citrullus colocynthis / Bitter Apple

Benefits of Colocynth / Citrullus Colocynthis/ Bitter apple, medicinal uses, dosage, and side effects

In Ayurveda, the Bitter apple (Citrullus Colocynthis) is called Indravaruni. This is the most important Ayurvedic herb that shows good results in pacifying Pitta and Kapha dosha. It’s all parts are useful and show specific actions on various disorders.

The roots of this plant help to treat jaundice, urinary tract infection, abdominal enlargement, rheumatoid arthritis, ascites, etc. Its fruits are antipyretic, purgative, and carminative and treat bronchitis, jaundice, constipation, joint pain, urinary discharge, etc.

In combination with other herbs, it is used to treat gall bladder and liver-related disorders. People who are suffering from diabetes and have nerve pain should use this plant on the skin for better results.


Colocynth / Citrullus Colocynthis Meaning of this shloka

This shloka means that synonyms of bitter apple are endri, idravaruni, chitra, gvaakshi, gvadani, and varuni. It is bitter, pungent taste after digestion, treats constipation, light, hot in potency, and treats jaundice, pitta and kapha dosha, splenomegaly, abdominal disorders, asthma, cough, skin disorders, lymph, wounds, diabetes,  malformed fetus, indigestion, goiter, and treats poison.

(Reference- Bhavaprakasha nighantu- guduchyadi varga- page no. 389 and shloka no. 203-206)

Botanical name- Citrullus colocynthis

Family- Cucurbitaceae

Colocynth / Citrullus Colocynthis Names in different languages

  • English name: Bitter apple, Colocynth, desert gourd, bitter cucumber, vine of Sodom.
  • Hindi name: Indrayan ki jad (root), Indrayan
  • Punjabi name: Kaudatumma
  • Telugu name: Cinna Papara, Chedu Puccha, Kuturu budama
  • Malayalam name: Pikkumutti.
  • Kannada name: Tamte Kai, Tamate Kayi
  • Telugu name: Paparabudam
  • Bengali name: Rakhale Shasa
  • Tamil name: Pikkumutti

Synonyms in the Sanskrit language

Gavakshi- its fruit is spherical and is similar to the cow’s eye

Chitra- fruit has lines present on it

Categorization according to classical texts-

According to- Acharya Charaka:

Moolini Dravya- Group of herbs, whose root is the part used for medicinal purposes.

Virechana Dravya- Group of herbs that are used purpose of purgation in Panchakarma therapies.

Acharya Sushruta: Adhobhagahara, Shyamadi Gana.

Acharya Vagbhata: Shyamadi Gana.

Morphological characteristics of Colocynth / Citrullus colocynthis

Bitter apple is a herbal and annual plant whose stamp is rough and irregular. Its leaves are 5 to10 cm long and rough. It has a deep 3 to 7 lobed middle lobe, a sinus triangular in shape, and has many clefts. From the upper surface, these leaves are green but on the lower surface, it is pale. Its flowers are solitary, peduncle, and yellow with 5 lobed Corollas. Fruits contain numerous seeds, globular and 4- 10 cm with elliptical fissures.

Fruit is small and orange green in color when unripe but becomes yellow when ripe. Its seeds are very small in size about 6 mm in length and various in numbers. These are smooth, Oval, and compressed. When ripe, they’ve become dark brown to light yellow. Its roots are rough, long, and slender Like stamps that tend to climb over other herbs.


Bitter apple is cultivated in Africa and also found in Asian countries like Pakistan, India, and the southern islands. This herb is also native to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Afghanistan, North America, separate, Mediterranean Europe, etc. It grows up to the height of 1500 meters above sea level on sandy seacoasts and sub desert soils.

Chemical constituents

Albuminoids, glycoside, elaterin, phytosterol, colocynthenin, phytosterols, cucurbitacin B and E, etc.

Medicinal properties

  • Rasa (taste): Tikta (bitter)
  • Guna (qualities): Laghu (light to digest), Teekshna (piercing that enters deep into the tissues), and Rooksha (dry)
  • Veerya (potency): Ushna (hot)
  • Vipaka (undergoes taste conversion after digestion): Katu (pungent)

Effect on Tridosha: Helps to balance Kapha and Pitta dosha

Medicinal uses as per Ayurveda

The main use of this herb as per Ayurveda is that it is used to initiate abortion.

  • Pleeha- relieves splenomegaly
  • Kamala- helps to treat jaundice
  • Moodagarbha- works in the malformed fetus
  • Gulma- treats abdominal tumors, and abdominal bloating
  • Vrana- treats wounds
  • Shwasa- treats Asthma, wheezing, COPD, and breathing difficulty
  • Kasa- relieves cough and cold
  • Kushta- shows good results in skin diseases
  • Udara- treats ascites
  • Granthi- relieves boils and nodules
  • Prameha- diabetes, urinary tract disorders

Therapeutic uses of Bitter Apple/Colocynth / Citrullus colocynthis


Bitter apple possesses a laxative property which is present in its fruit extract that provides strength to the intestinal muscles and eases defecation. It also increases fluid content in the intestine that makes the stool soft and aids its easy passing out from the body.

Cough and cold

In cough and cold, bitter apple works as a decongestant that unclogs the stuffy nose. This also possesses expectorant activity which loosens the mucus in the lungs so that you can cough it up and expels it out from the mouth. Being an anti-inflammatory, it also relieves inflammation in the upper airways and protects the respiratory organs from infections.

Diabetes mellitus

Roots of bitter apple has a great effect on reducing blood sugar level. The chemical constituents present in this herb increase the metabolism of insulin and shows positive results in the case of type 2 diabetes mellitus. It stimulates the pancreas to produce and release more insulin naturally and blocks the action of enzymes present in the stomach that break down the carbohydrates.

Part used

Root and fruit


125- 500 mg (fruit powder)

1-2 gram (root powder)

Side effects of Colocynth / Citrullus colocynthis

It should be contraindicated during pregnancy, lactating mothers, and small children. People who are suffering from stomach sensitivity should avoid this plant as it can produce severe purgation. It should be taken in the proper dose and prescribed time.


From this article, it is concluded that bitter apple Colocynth / Citrullus Colocynthis shows effective results in various diseases like Constipation, jaundice, bronchitis, abdominal enlargement, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. It’s all parts are useful and they show specific action on various body systems. But its overdose may cause purgation so it should be avoided in stomach sensitivity. It is also not indicated in pregnancy and during lactation. Use this herb only after the doctor’s consultation as per the prescribed time and dosage.

Some FAQs:

Ques: How does Bitter Apple work in constipation?

Bitter apple has a laxative property that is present in its fruit extract. This fruit provides strength to the intestinal muscles and eases defecation.

Ques: What is the dosage of Bitter apple/ Colocynth / Citrullus Colocynthis for medicinal use?

The dosage of fruit powder is 125- 500 mg and the dosage of root powder is 1-2 gm.

Ques: Does bitter apple good for congestion?

Yes, it bitter apple is good for congestion as it works as a decongestant that unclogs the stuffy nose.

Ques: How Bitter apple lowers the blood sugar level?

Bitter apple shows good results in reducing blood sugar levels. The chemical constituents present in this herb increase insulin metabolism in the body.

Note: Our purpose is to serve useful information related to sida Colocynths benefits, dosage, and other properties. It is advised to the patients not to consume it on the basis of this information. Before taking this as a medicine it is better to have an expert opinion because dosage and treatment vary from patient to patient depending on their symptoms and medical history.

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About Dr. Ranjana Kaushal

Dr. Ranjana Kaushal (MD Ayurveda) has 11 years of experience in the field of Ayurveda. Right now she is working as an Ayurveda consultant with Life Aveda. She has immense knowledge about herbs, their uses, and formulations. She has published articles related to many herbs and diseases in an international journal. She is also a degree holder in yoga and naturopathy. Read More..

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