1.1 What is a muskmelon?
The muskmelon (botanical name: Cucumis melo, also known as sweet melon; Chinese Pinyin: Tian Gua, Simplified Chinese: 甜瓜), is a species of annual, flowering, fruit-bearing, herbaceous vine in genus Cucumis in the cucumber family, Cucurbitaceae. The term muskmelons can refer to the plant as well as the fruit of the plant. The flowers are yellow, with 5 petals. The edible fruit is spherical, ovate or squat, usually medium in size with varied smooth or rough skin (greenish, yellow or orange depending on different cultivated varieties). Native to Iran, Anatolia and the Caucasus and extensively cultivated in temperate to tropical regions around the world, habitats of muskmelon include fields, orchards, hillsides and greenhouse. Characteristics of muskmelons include ability to withstand cultivation at high altitudes, tolerance for heat and high disease resistance.
Other simplified Chinese names for muskmelons include: 甘瓜, 香瓜, 哈密瓜, 白兰瓜, 华莱士瓜.
1.2 How does muskmelon taste?
Most muskmelons have a soft or crisp, firm, lush, juicy texture with a flavor that is sweet and subtle.
1.3 What is the difference between muskmelons and cantaloupes?
Cantaloupe is a variety of the muskmelon, there are other cultivated varieties of muskmelon like honeydew, crenshaw, casaba, and Persian melon, Santa Claus or Christmas melon and the Armenian cucumber.
1.4 How is muskmelon used in traditional Chinese medicine?
The seeds of muskmelons are considered sweet, cold and nontoxic in nature; the pedicel of muskmelons is considered to be bitter, cold and toxic in nature; and both of them are associated with the heart and stomach meridians. They are used as heat clearing drug, antidipticum and diuretic in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as constipation and hematemesis.
2. Uses, Health Benefits of Muskmelons & Medical Formulas
2.1 Aid Conception
Vitamin A (Retinoid) is a fat soluble vitamin contained in various foods that is both good for our vision, immune system as well as reproductive system. Vitamin A is known to be important for the maintenance of the male genital tract and spermatogenesis. Studies also show that vitamin A participates in a signaling mechanism to initiate meiosis in the female gonad during embryogenesis, and in the male gonad postnatally (Margaret 2011). According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), cantaloupe (a variety of muskmelons) contain 68% daily value of vitamin A per 100 g (3.5 oz) serving. Therefore, it is good for the reproductive system and may help to aid conception.
2.2 Wound Healing
Muskmelons are rich in Vitamin C which is also known as ascorbic acid (AA). Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, it dissolves in water and is transported in the bloodstream. Studies have proved that the vitamin can help speed the healing process of wounds by producing collagen and providing extra strength and stability to collagen fibers which will facilitate the repair and regeneration of tissues in the affected areas. Therefore, it can be concluded that high dietary intakes of Vitamin C may help to speed up the would healing process and muskmelon is an excellent food source for Vitamin C (61% DV per 100 g serving.
2.3 Good For Brain
Though Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), is not absolutely required for any specific action in a cell, researchers found out that Vitamin C is definitely necessary for proper function of many human organs, especially for the brain and central nervous system (CNS) (James 2013). In addition, a recent study also showed that a lack of proper Vitamin C levels in the diet during pregnancy is likely associated to impaired brain development of the fetus.
2.4 Promote Metabolism
Muskmelons also contain rich water-soluble Vitamin B1 (thiamin, or thiamine), classified as a B-complex vitamin, the vitamine is a coenzyme consumed by the body to transform food for energy to back all the body activities. Signs of Vitamin B1 deficiency include chronic diseases such as beriberi, brain abnormalities, digestive abnormalities and neurological disorder. Thus, diets rich in Vitamin B1 could help to promote metabolism and stop a number of diseases from formation.
2.5 Bad Breath
[CTM Formula] Pills made with seeds of muskmelons can be used in treating a bad breath.
[CTM Formula] Powdered muskmelon pedicels can be used externally to treat constipation.
[CTM Formula] Muskmelon pedicels, dried fruit of Quisqualis indica and licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) are powdered and taken orally with wine to treat amenorrhea (abnormal absence of menstruation).
[CTM Formula] Muskmelon pedicels, clove and rice bean are powdered and snorted to treat edema (swelling caused by fluid retention).
2.9 Reducing Inflammation, Swelling And Relieving Pain
[CTM Formula] A mixture of pyrolusite, muskmelon seed, mastic and myrrh can be pounded into powder, the powder can be taken internally with warm wine and also applied externally with calcined concha ostreae to treat bone fracture.
[CTM Formula] Seeds of muskmelons (soaked in wine) are powdered and taken orally with wine on an empty stomach to relieve low back and leg pain.
2.10 Stopping Bleeding
[CTM Formula] A decoction of asarum forbesii, muskmelon pedicel and ginseng can be used in treatment for hematemesis.
2.11 The Digestive System
[CTM Formula] A mixture of asarum sieboldii root and muskmelon pedicel (a main herb to pour out phlegm and retained food) is to be pounded and taken orally with meal to treat loss of appetite and deficient cold.
The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.
The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.
Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by ChinaAbout.net. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.
List of reference
James, M. M. 2013 Vitamin C transport and its role in the central nervous system, Subcell Biochem. 2012; 56: 85–103.
Margaret Clagett-Dame, Danielle Knutson 2011 Vitamin A in Reproduction and Development, Nutrients 2011 Apr; 3(4): 385–428.