Kovakka for Type 2 Diabetes
Posted on October 14th, 2014

By Shari Jayawardhana


Coccinia grandis better known as Kovakka (Sinhala) and Kovakkai (Tamil) is a tropical plant belonging to the Pumpkin family. It is also referred to as Ivy gourd, baby watermelon,little gourdor gentleman’s toes in English.

It is a common perennial climber that grows in woodlands, forest borders and open areas from sea level to about 800m in low country, especially in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Kovakka is an aggressive vine that can spread quickly over trees, shrubs, fences and other supports. It prefers a sunny sheltered position along with a sandy soil.Cocciniagrandis is used in Australia, Asia, Caribbean, and the southern United States and Pacific Islands as a food crop. In Sri Lanka, most people grow Kovakka in their home garden.

The leaf consists of 5 lobes and its shape varies from a heart to a pentagon. The size of the leaf is around 5 to 10 cm in width and length. The upper surface of the leaf is hairless while the lower part is hairy. The leaves are edible.

The flower is large, white and star shaped. It is around 4cm in diameter and contains five long tubular petals. The Kovakka fruit belongs to the berry type: oval, hairless with thick and sticky skin. The raw fruit is green and white in color and turns bright red when it ripens. The mature fruit is around 25-60mm long and 15-35 mm in diameter and contains several pale, flattened seeds. The translucent white flesh of the fruit resembles the appearance and flavor of a cucumber. The flesh is both crunchy and succulent in texture with a mildly bitter aftertaste. The mature fruits become soft and develop a sweeter quality.

Culinary Uses

The primary usage of Kovakka is for cooking as it is considered to be a vegetable. Kovakkais abundant with Vitamin C,Vitamin A and also contains Vitamin B1 and B2. Additionally it is regarded as an excellent source of protein and fiber. In Sri Lanka, Kovakka is used for a variety of culinary purposes.Just like other vegetables, there are number of ways to prepare Kovakka. One of the easiest ways is to cut the fruit into tiny pieces, bigger chunks or even cubes and include with a number of other vegetables to make a delicious curry. It can be used in sandwiches or make a salad with a yoghurt dressing. Both the tender green fruit and the ripe fruit can be used for this purpose. The fruit can be consumed boiled or fried. In addition to curries, soups are also prepared using the green fruit. The unripe fruits can be turned into pickles

Medicinal Uses

Kovakka is considered to be a therapeutic herb in traditional Ayurveda medicine. The most notable benefit of Kovakka is that the juice of its leaves and the roots is used to treat diabetes and regulate sugar levels. This is particularly because of an essential liver enzyme contained in this particular food which standardizes the sugar metabolism in the body, by improving the glucose production. Therefore, it is of excellent assistance to the diabetic patients and is also strongly recommended for them.

The vegetable is rich in fiber which helps in the digestion of food and allows easy bowel movement. Healthy skin can be attained by drinking the juice of the plant. Kovakka has a variety of antioxidants which maintains the overall wellbeing of the body. The leaves are an excellent cure for an array of skin infections like leprosy, psoriasis and scabies. It has been used to treat tongue sores and diarrhea. The flowers of the Kovakka plant are used to cure jaundice. The leaves, fruits and the stems have the power to stabilize high blood pressure. The vegetable has nurturing effects on eyes, heart, liver and kidney. Kovakka is used in the preparation of medicines for the treatment of anorexia, coughing and diabetic wounds. Kovakka is additionally known for its detoxification capability as it is a blood purifier. The plant possesses anti-bacterial, anti-ulcer properties and can be used as a pain killer. The juice from the stem of the Kovakka plant is dripped into the eyes to treat cataracts. The leaves are used as a poultice in treating skin eruptions.

In the global market, a variety of dietary supplements made out of Kovakka are available. These capsules are mostly consumed by patients with diabetes who want to regulate their blood sugar levels. Pickles made out of the fruits are packaged and sold in countries such as India. A range of organic calming skin therapy products are also made available in the international market. Sri Lanka has the potential to manufacture some of these mentioned products and market it to the international market. However, it begins with creating awareness about this valuable herb that grows wild in the home gardens of many Sri Lankan households.

The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment or care.

The author has completed two Masters Degrees in Public Health at the University of Queensland in Australia. She is a freelance writer. Email her on shariwitt@gmail.com Visit her blog http://sharijayawardhana.weebly.com


3 Responses to “Kovakka for Type 2 Diabetes”

  1. Nimal Says:

    I noticed that people eat a lot in SL,especially rice and sweets.They must control that and walk a bit,I say.

  2. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    SHARI ! Cinnamon is a great metabolizer of sugar in the body. There should be an awareness campaign to promote Kovakka and Cinnamon as a cure and preventive for Diabetes.

  3. Nimal Says:

    Yes Cinnamon teas is good so is bandakka,if you drink the water in the morning with the sevala of the bandakka.
    One of my relative had a fall due to sugar level going down due to this preventive measure.People must be mindful of it’s effects too.

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