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Chinese Cucumber

Scientific names: Trichosanthes kirilowii

Common names: Chinese cucumber also is known as Chinese snake gourd, gua-lou, tian-hua-fen, and compound Q.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Moderate to serious danger.

What is Chinese Cucumber?

The Chinese cucumber is one of more than 40 recognized species of Trichosanthes. It is a member of the gourd family, and the root, fruit, seeds, stems, and peel are used medicinally. While T. kirilowii is the plant most often referred to in Chinese Materia Medica, a number of related species are often used as adulterants (false additives).

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

The Chinese cucumber has been recognized in Chinese medicine for several thousand years. It is used to reduce fevers, swelling and coughing. A starch extracted from the root is used for abscesses, amenorrhea, jaundice, and polyuria (abnormally large amounts of urine). Modern Chinese medicinal uses include the management of diabetes and use to induce abortion. The plant has been used for centuries in the treatment of tumors.

Other uses

Laboratory studies have shown that Chinese cucumber inhibits replication of the HIV virus. Chinese cucumber is being studied as a treatment for the management of AIDS infections. The plant also exhibits immunological effects and antitumor properties. Chinese cucumber has been used to treat invasive moles. There is limited clinical evidence to support possible uses in HIV, mole treatment, and as an abortive.

What is the recommended dosage?

There is no recent published clinical evidence to guide dosage of Chinese cucumber. It most commonly is administered as part of a polyherbal preparation in TCM.

How safe is it?


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


Documented adverse effects. Avoid use.


None well documented.

Side Effects

Side effects include hormone changes, allergic reaction, fluid in the lungs or brain, bleeding in the brain, heart damage, seizures, and fever.


Extracts of the Chinese cucumber are extremely toxic (death has occurred), particularly with parenteral use.


  1. Chinese Cucumber. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2005. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 23, 2007.

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