Introduction of Si Gua Luo:Luffa Vegetable Sponge or Retinervus Luffae Fructus.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb Luffa Vegetable Sponge, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its botanical source two plant species, ①.Luffa cylindrica(L.) Roem., ②.Luffa Acutangula Roxb., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these two plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these two plant species, the features of the herb Luffa Vegetable Sponge, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Retinervus Luffae Fructus(Luffa Vegetable Sponge).

Luffa Vegetable Sponge Pin Yin Name: Sī Guā Luò.
 English Name: Luffa Vegetable Sponge.
 Latin Name: Retinervus Luffae Fructus.
 Property and flavor: cool, sweet.

 Brief introduction: The herb Retinervus Luffae Fructus is the dried vascular bundles of the ripe fruit of Luffa cylindrica(L.) Roem.(family Cucurbitaceae), used to dispel wind, unblock collateral meridians, and relieve toxins for treating rheumatalgia with muscular contracture, and also for treating mastitis. The herb is commonly known as Towel Gourd Vegetable Sponge, Vegetable Sponge of Luffa, Sī Guā Luò.

 Botanical source: Official herbal classics defined the herb Retinervus Luffae Fructus(Luffa Vegetable Sponge) as the dried vascular bundles of (1).Luffa cylindrica(L.) Roem. Other famous herbal classics defined the herb Retinervus Luffae Fructus(Luffa Vegetable Sponge) as the dried vascular bundles of (1).Luffa cylindrica(L.) Roem., or (2).Luffa Acutangula Roxb.. They are plants of the Luffa Mill. Genus, Cucurbitaceae family, Cucurbitales order. These 2 commonly used species are introduced as:

(1).Luffa cylindrica(L.)Roem.


 Luffa cylindrica L.Roem.:growing plant Botanical description: It is commonly known as Sī Guā. Annual climbing vine; Stems, branches rough, furrowed, puberulent. Tendrils slightly stout, pubescent, usually 2~4 angulus. Petiole scabrous, 10~12 cm long, with inconspicuous groove, subglabrous; Leaf blade triangular or suborbicular, 10~20 cm long, wide, usually palmate 5-7, lobes triangular, in the middle of a long, 8 and 12 cm long, apex acute or acuminate, margin serrate, base deeply cordate, curved short of 2 to 3 cm deep, 2~2.5 cm wide, dark green, rough, with warts, under the pale green, pubescent, veins palmate, white pubescent.

 Hermaphrodite. Male flowers: usually 15~20 flowers, on top of racemes, peduncle slightly stout, 12~14 cm long, pilose; Pedicels 1~2 cm long, calyx tube broadly bell-shaped, 0.5~0.9 cm in diameter, pubescent, lobes ovate-lanceolate or nearly triangular, upper end reflexed outwardly, ca. 0.8~1.3 cm long, 0.4~0.7 cm wide, inwardly densely pubescent, margin particularly conspicuous, outer coatless, apex acuminate, 3-veined; Corolla yellow, radial, spreading 5~9 cm in diameter, lobed oblong, 2~4 cm long, 2~2.8 cm wide, inner base densely yellow-white villous, outer with 3-5 convex veins, veins densely pubescent, apex obtuse, base narrow; 5 stamens, 3 thin, filaments 6~8 mm long, white pubescent at base, flowers slightly conjoined at first opening, finally completely separated, medicinal chamber much reflexed. Female flowers: solitary, pedicels 2~10 cm long; Ovary long terete, pilose, 3 stigmas, inflated.

 Luffa cylindrica L.Roem.:fruiting plant Fruit terete, straight or slightly curved, 15~30 cm long, 5~8 cm in diameter, smooth, usually with dark longitudinal streaks, succulent when unripe, dry when mature, with reticulate fibers inside, opening from the top. Seeds numerous, black, ovate, flattened, smooth, margin is narrowly winged. Fruit and vegetable period summer, autumn.

 Ecological environment: The plant grows and is produced all over the country of China. The loofah which is produced in the lower reaches area of the Yangtze River is better. Towel gourd cloth is mainly produced in Guangdong.

 Growth characteristics: The plant luffa cylindrica prefers a warm climate, high temperature, high humidity, avoid low temperature. It has wide adaptability to the soil, and it is advisable to choose sandy loam with a deep soil layer, moist soil, and rich organic matter, rather than barren soil.

 Luffa Vegetable Sponge:herb photo Characters of herbs: The herb is made up of all filamentous vascular bundles interwoven vertically and horizontally. It is long prismatic or oblong, slightly curved, slightly thinner at both ends, different in length, 30 ~ 70 cm in length, and 5 ~ 10 cm in diameter. The surface is yellowish-white, coarse and rough, with several shallow longitudinal grooves, and sometimes there are residual pericarp and membranous pulp. The herb is light, the texture of the herb is tough and elastic, and can't be broken, there are 3-loculed ovaries in the fracture surface, which is hollow, occasionally with residual black seeds. The herb has a slight odor, it tastes mild. The herb which is big, complete, with clear collaterals, tough texture, light yellow and white, no seeds, is better.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.analgesic; ②.anti-inflammatory; ③.sedative effects.

 Medicinal efficacy: Free collaterals, activate blood circulation, dispel wind, clear heat and reduce phlegm, detoxify and detumescent(reduce swelling). It is indicated for arthralgia and constriction, distension and pain in the chest and hypochondrium, muscular constricture, alactation, abdominal pain, lumbago, testicular swelling and pain, lung heat and sputum cough, women's amenorrhea, carbuncle, hemorrhoid leakage. The charred herb can stop bleeding, indicated for bloody stool, flooding.

 Administration of Retinervus Luffae Fructus(Sī Guā Luò): 
 
Reference: Administration Guide of Retinervus Luffae Fructus(Sī Guā Luò)
TCM Books: ①.Internally:4.5~9 grams;②.Internally:water decoction, 1.5~3 qian(about 4.5~9 grams), or charred herb with its property retained, grinded into fine powder.Externally:charred herb with its property retained, grinded into fine powder and apply stick;③.Internally:water decoction, 5~15 grams,or charred herb with its property retained,1.5~3 grams each time.Externally:proper amount,charred herb with its property retained, grinded into fine powder and apply stick.

(2).Luffa Acutangula Roxb.


 Botanical description: It is commonly known as ào Sī Guā.
 
Dispelling Wind-Damp Herbs.

 Introduction: Dispelling Wind-Damp Herbs: an agent or substance herbs that dispels wind and damp, mainly for relieving rheumatism and related conditions.
 
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References:
  • 1.Introduction of Si Gua Luo:Luffa Vegetable Sponge or Retinervus Luffae Fructus.

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