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Cucumis sativus L. (Cucurbitaceae)


Cucumis esculentus Salisb., Cucumis hardwickii Royle, Cucumis muricatus Willd., Cucumis sativus L.  var. nepalensis Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. rossicus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. hardwickii (Royle)Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. viridis Ser., Cucumis sativus L.  var. setosus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. turcicus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. hollandicus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. serotinus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. excellens Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. fastigiatus Ser., Cucumis sativus L.  var. flavus Ser., Cucumis sativus L.  var. variegatus Ser., Cucumis sativus L.  var. albus Ser., Cucumis sativus L.  f. albus Hiroe, Cucumis sativus L.  var. curtus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. flexuosus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. donii Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. praecox Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. pallidus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. sikkimensis Hook.f., Cucumis sativus L.  var. vulgaris Alef., Cucumis sphaerocarpus Gabaev   

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Timun, Mentimun
English: Cucumber, Garden Cucumber, Cultivated Cucumber
Chinese: Huang Gua (Cantonese: Wong Gwa), Qing Gua (Cantonese: Tseng Kwa)
Ketimun, Bonteng
Hindi: Kheera (Khira), Kakri, Kakdi, Tihu
Others:  Agurk, Gurke, Komkommer, Kurkku, Concombre, Concombre Commun, Concombre Vert Long, Concombre Blanc Long, Concombre Blanc, Concombre Maraîcher, Pepino, Cohombro, Oi, Trapusha

General Information


Cucumis sativus is used as a vegetable. It is a creeping vine that roots in the ground and climbs up trellises or other supporting frames, wrapping around ribbing with thin, spiraling tendrils. The plant has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. It is an annual climber growing to 2m.

The fruit is roughly cylindrical, elongated, with tapered ends, and may be as large as 60cm long and measuring 10cm in diameter. C. sativus are eaten fresh and pickled. In temperate zones, it is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by insects. The plant undergoes self-fertilization.

Plant Part Used

Fruits, leaves, seeds.

Chemical Constituents

Seeds: 1,3-Diamino-propane, 22-dihydrobrassicasterol, 2,4-methylene-cholesterol 24-beta-ethyl-25(27)-dehydrolathosterol, 24-methyl-25(27)-dehydrocycloartanol, 24-methyl-cholest-7-en-3-beta-ol 25(27)-dehydro-chondrillasterol, 25(27)-dehydro-fungisterol 24-epsilon-ethyl-25(27)-dehydrolophenol 24-methyl-lathosterol, 24-methylene-24-dihydro-lanosterol, 24-methylene-24-dihydro-parkeol, 24-methylene-cycloartenol , 25(27)-dehydro-poriferasterol, 7-dehydro-avenasterol, alpha-amyrin, avenasterol, beta-pyrazol-1-yl-alanine, butyric-acid, campesterol, cucurbitin, cycloartenol, cycloeucalenol, euphol, gramisterol, isomultiflorineol, lupeol, lysolecithin, multiflorineol, obtusifoliol, phosphatidic-acid, phosphatidyl-choline, phosphatidyl-ethanolamine, phosphatidyl-glycerol, phosphatidyl-inositol, spermidine, stigmast-7,22,25-trien-3-beta-ol, stigmast-7,25-dien-3-beta-ol, stellasterol, taraxerol, tirucallol. [1]

Leaves: 22-Dihydro-spinasterol, alpha-spinasterol, isoorientin, meloside-a, stigmast-7-en-3-beta-o.l [1]

Fruit: Alanine,  alpha-linolenic-acid, alpha-tocopherol, aluminum arginine, arsenic, ash, aspartic-acid barium, beta-amyrin, beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol boron, cadmium, caffeic-acid, calcium, carbohydrates, chlorogenic-acid, chromium, citrulline, cobalt, copper, cucurbitacin-a, cucurbitacin-b, cucurbitacin-c, cucurbitacin-e, cystine, ferulic-acid, fiber, fluorine, folacin, gamma-glutamyl-beta-pyrazol-1-yl-alanine, glutamic-acid glycine, hexanal, hexen-(2)-al-(1), histidine, iron, isoleucine, lead, leucine, lithium, lysine, magnesium, manganese, mercury, methionine, mevalonic-acid, myristic-acid, niacin, nickel, nitrogen, non-trans-2-en-al, nonadien-2,6-al-1, nonadien-2,6-ol-2, nonen-2-al-1, pantothenic-acid, pentadec-cis-8-en-1-al, phosphorus, phytosterols, potassium, proline, propanal, protein, riboflavin, rubidium, selenium, serine, silicon, silver, sodium, squalene, strontium, sugar, sulfur, thiamin threonine, titanium, tryptophan, tyrosine, valine, vitamin b6, zinc, zirconium. [1]

Seeds of C. sativus were found to contain gibberellins A1, A3, A4, and A7 with A1 being the predominant specie. [2]

Traditional Use:

The seeds of C. sativus have similar properties to Cucurbita pepo L. (pumpkin). [1] The seeds of these plants are diuretic.

C. sativus is as an anthelmintic (acting against parasitic worms) similar to, Citrullus lanatus and Cucurbita pepo which are of the same family, Cucurbitaceae, are effective against Oxyuris. The seeds of these plants exhibited anthelmintic effect against Aspiculuris tetraptera and Syphacia obvelata. [3]

The fruit is applied to the skin as a cleansing cosmetic to soften and whiten it. The juice is used in many beauty products. [4] C. sativus is amongst the constituents of cosmetics marketed as treatments for skin inflammations and other skin disorders, and as skin protectants. [5] 

Pre-Clinical Data


Antihyperglycemic activity 

The antihyperglycemic effect of 12 edible plants were studied on 27 healthy adult New Zealand rabbits, treated weekly to subcutaneous glucose tolerance tests after gastric administration of water, tolbutamide (20mg/kg), or a traditional preparation of the plant (4mL/kg) in fasting animals. [6] Tolbutamide, Cucurbita ficifolia, Phaseolus vulgaris, Opuntia streptacantha, Spinacea oleracea, C. sativus and Cucumis cyminum significantly decreased the area under the glucose tolerance curve and the hyperglycemic peak. The hyperglycemic peak of C. sativus was comparable to tolbutamide, being 17% and 16.2%, respectively. The area under the glucose tolerance curve C. sativus was 13.6%, tolbutamide showed a higher decrease of 16.1%. This proved that this plant may have an insulin-like activity in healthy rabbits. [6]

The pectin (5g/kg body wt/day) extracted from C. sativus  showed inhibitory effects on protein kinase C (PKC) activity in the liver of rats. However, PKC activity was significantly higher in pectin-treated rats as compared to the control group. The blood glucose level was significantly reduced and the level of glycogen in the liver was significantly increased in the pectin-administered rats. The glycogen phosphorylase enzyme inhibited in pectin-treated rats. The glycogen synthase activity was increased. This study suggested that pectin administration may have caused an increase in the secretion of insulin. This may lead to a stimulatory effect on PKC activity in the pancreas. The decreased PKC activity in the liver upon pectin administration may indicate enhanced glycogenesis while increased PKC activity in the brain and pancreas showed reduced glycogenolysis. [7]

Antioxidant activity

The ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP) assay was used to measure the concentration of total antioxidants of various vegetable extracts from three different geographic regions in the world. The vegetables were obtained from different commercially available dietary plants either from market places or grocery stores in several countries. Cucumber contained only about 0.10mmol ferrous ion/100g fresh weight assessed by the FRAP method. Plants that contain the most antioxidants include members of several families, such as Rosaceae (dog rose, sour cherry, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry), Empetraceae (crowberry), Ericaceae (blueberry), Grossulariaceae (black currant), Juglandaceae (walnut), Asteraceae (sunflower seed), Punicaceae (pomegranate) and Zingiberaceae (ginger). [8]

Other studies also showed that C. sativus  possessed a very low anti-oxidant activity. [9][10][11] In the former study, the phenolic contents, antioxidant activities by trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC), 1’,1’-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and FRAP assays of commonly consumed vegetable extracts were measured. [9] C. sativus was also found to be a poor source of ascorbic acid. [12]

Amylolytic activity

The inoculation of C. sativus (cv. Laura) cotyledons with tobacco necrosis virus (TNV) causes both qualitative and quantitative changes in the total and fractionated protein extracts. The amylolytic activity of these extracts were also changed. The virus infection enhanced a major band of amylolytic activity, primarily located in apoplast space. The amylolytic activity may be related to degradation of starch shown to be accumulated in the immediate vicinity of necrotic lesions associated with the hypersensitive response. [13] 

Anticancer activity

Four nutraceuticals, viz, sugar beet roots, C. sativus  fruits, New Zealand spinach leaves, and turmeric rhizomes, were evaluated for their comparative effectiveness against dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-initiated and croton oil-promoted skin tumors. Three different protocols were used. There was a decrease in the percent skin tumor incidence, a decrease in multiplicity of skin tumors, and a later onset of skin tumors compared with the positive control. The topical application of  nutraceuticals 1 hour before exposure to croton oil was the most effective protocol compared to the other two. Turmeric was the most potent amongst the four nutraceuticals, it exhibited a low (30%) skin tumor incidence, 87.2% decrease in skin tumors, and a 5-week delay in skin tumor formation compared with the positive control. [14]


The natural cucurbitacins primarily found in the Cucurbitaceae family constitute a group of triterpenoid substances which are recognised to be bitter and toxic. [15]

Genotoxicity and mutagenicity studies 

Seven fruits and 10 vegetables commonly consumed in Germany were investigated for their anticlastogenic potencies against cyclophosphamide (CP) and benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) in the in vivo mouse bone marrow micronucleus assay. C. sativus  exerted moderate activities. [16]

The antimutagenic potencies of the juices of 28 fruits and 34 vegetables commonly consumed in Germany were investigated. The mutagenic activities were induced by 2-amino-3-methyl[4,5-f]-quinoline (IQ), and in part by 2-amino-3,4-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (MeIQ) or 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx) in Salmonella typhimurium TA98 and TA100. Moderate antimutagenic activities were found with C. sativus  as compared to beets, chives, horseradish, onions, rhubarb and spinach that showed stronger antimutagenic activities. [17]

C. sativus  had the ability to inhibit mutagenicity caused by chemicals such as mitomycin C, bleomycin, fluoracil, cis-diaminodichloroplatinum, arabinosylcytosin and mustargen using mutational and anti-mutational synchronous in SOS induce test (+/-S9). [18]

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

There is a lack of clinical data on edible plants with hypoglycemic activity including C. sativus, Cucurbita ficifolia, Phaseolus vulgaris, Spinacea oleraceae, and others. There is no toxicological information about these plants. [6]

However, there was one clinical study conducted in patients with hypertension who were treated with C. sativus  vine compound tablet. [19] The 300 and 86 patients were divided randomly and 241 patients were treated with the C. sativus  vine compound tablet whilst 148 patients were treated with a hypotension drug as control. The total effective rate with marked improvement were 63.1% and 81.7% in the treated group, and 39.2% and 67.0% in the control group, respectively. The marked effective rate is for decrease in blood pressure and the total effective rate were 52.7%, 90.9% and 58.1%, 92.6%, respectively. C. sativus  vine compound tablet elicited reduction in the blood pressure and markedly increased the coronary blood flow and improved myocardial contraction in animals. No toxic effects were presented by C. sativus  vine compound tablet on animals. C. sativus  vine compound tablet may be an effective, safe medicine for the treatment of essential hypertension. [19]

Adverse Effects in Human:

The children with atopic dermatitis were tested for prevalence of food allergy towards fruits and vegetables, and the reliability of diagnosis of Prick+Prick test compared with the usual Prick test, RAST and challenge. The 26 patients (17 male and 9 female), ranging in age from 5 months to 8 years, joined the study. Food RAST, prick tests with inhalant and food extracts and Prick+Prick tests with fresh fruits and vegetables were carried out. Only one patient revealed an allergic response to 5 vegetables (carrot, tomato, celery, cucumber, fennel) by the Prick+Prick test. [20]

A total of 3,717 inhabitants of rural districts in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan were asked to fill out a questionnaire concerning their allergy status [21]. This study was done to determine the prevalence of allergic disorders and their association with agricultural factors. The highest (62%) prevalence of allergic symptoms was observed in farmers engaged in poultry raising. Farmers associated with C. sativus in plastic greenhouse showed a prevalence of 53%. The pesticide spraying was the most common agent which contributed to the prevalence of allergy. [21][22]

Use in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding  

No documentation.

Age Limitations


No documentation.


No documentation.

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation.


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

C. sativus should be avoided by patients with known allergy or hypersensitivity to it or to members of the Cucurbitaceae family such as gourd and melon. [23]



Due to its hyposensitive properties, hypertensive patients who take C. sativus  vine tablet as a supplement should be aware of possible interactions with antihypertensive medications. [19]

Case Reports

No documentation. 

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  1) Botanical Info


  1. Duke, JA. 2007. Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases.
  2. Hemphill, DD, Baker, LR, Sell, HM. Isolation and Identification of the Gibberellins of Cucumis sativus and Cucumis melo. Planta (Berl.),103: 241-248,1972.
  3. Kozan, E, Kupeli, E, Yesilada, E. Evaluation of some plants used in Turkish folk medicine against parasitic infections for their in vivo anthelmintic activity. J  Ethnopharm, 108: 211–216, 2006.
  4. Katsambas, AD & Lotti, TM. European Handbook of Dermatological Treatment, pp 473, Springer: Verlag, 2003.
  5. Aburjai, T & Natsheh, FM. Plants used in cosmetics. Phytother Res, 17:987–1000, 2003.
  6. Roman-Ramos, R, Flores-Saenz, JL, Alarcon-Aguilar, FJ. Anti-hyperglycemic effect of some edible . J Ethnopharm, 48: 25-32, 1995. 
  7. Sudheesh S & Vijayalakshmi NR. Role of pectin from cucumber (Cucumis sativus) in modulation of protein kinase C activity and regulation of glycogen metabolism in rats. Indian J Biochem Biophys, 44(3):183-5, 2007.  
  8. Halvorsen, B.L., Holte, K., Myhrstad, MCW, Barikmo, I., Hvattum, E., Remberg, SF., Wold, AB, Haffner, K, Baugerød, H, Andersen, LF, Moskaug, J, Jacobs, DR Jr. and Blomhoff, R. A Systematic Screening of Total Antioxidants in Dietary Plants. J Nutr, 132: 461–471, 2002. 
  9. Stratil, P, Klejdus, BI, Kuban, V. Determination Of Total Content Of Phenolic Compounds And Their Antioxidant Activity In Vegetablessevaluation Of Spectrophotometric Methods Agric Food Chem, 54: 607616, 2006.
  10. Chu YF, Sun J, Wu X, Liu RH. Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of common vegetables. J Agric Food Chem, 50(23):6910-6, 2002. 
  11. Pellegrini, N, Serafini, M, Colombi, B, Del Rio, D, Salvatore, S,  Bianchi, M, Brighenti, F. Total Antioxidant Capacity of Plant Foods, Beverages and Oils Consumed in Italy Assessed by three different In Vitro Assays. J Nutr, 133: 2812–2819, 2003.
  12. Iqbal MP, Kazim SF, Mehboobali N. Ascorbic acid contents of Pakistani fruits and vegetables. Pak J Pharm Sci, 19(4):282-5, 2006. 
  13. V. Repka, I. Fischerová. Induction And Distribution Of Amylolytic Activity In Cucumis Sativus L. In Response To Virus Infection. Acta Virologica, 43(4), 1999.
  14. Villaseñor IM, Simon MK, Villanueva AM. Comparative potencies of nutraceuticals in chemically induced skin tumor prevention. Nutr Cancer, 44(1):66-70, 2002. 
  15. Chen JC, Chiu MH, Nie RL, Cordell GA, Qiu SX Cucurbitacins and cucurbitane glycosides: structures and biological activities. Nat Prod Rep, 22(3):386-99. 2005. 
  16. Edenharder, R, Frangart, J, Hager, M, Hofmann, P, Rauscher, R. Protective Effects Of Fruits And Vegetables Against In Vivo Clastogenicity Of Cyclophosphamide Or Benzo[A]Pyrene In Mice. Food Chem Toxicol, 36:637-645, 1998.
  17. Edenharder R, Kurz P, John K, Burgard S, Seeger K. In vitro effect of vegetable and fruit juices on the mutagenicity of 2-amino-3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline, 2-amino-3,4-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline and 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline. Food Chem Toxicol, 32(5):443-59, 1f994.
  18. Zhao ZZ, Huang MT. [A SOS induction test screening study for vegetables inhibiting mutagenicity caused by antineoplastic drugs] Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi, 26(2):92-3, 1992. [Article in Chinese]
  19. Lu GL, Yuan WX, Fan YJ. [Clinical and experimental study of tablet cucumber vine compound in treating essential hypertension] Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi,11(5):274-6, 1991. [Article in Chinese]
  20. Ottolenghi A, De Chiara A, Arrigoni S, Terracciano L, De Amici M. [Diagnosis of food allergy caused by fruit and vegetables in children with atopic dermatitis] Pediatr Med Chir,17(6):525-30,1995. [Article in Italian]
  21. Ueda A, Ueda T, Matsushita T, Ueno T, Nomura S. Prevalence rates and risk factors for allergic symptoms among inhabitants in rural districts. Sangyo Igaku, 29(1):3-16, 1987. 
  22. Illing, HPA. Is working in greenhouses healthy? Evidence concerning the toxic risks that might affect greenhouse workers. Occup Mod, 47: 281-293, 1997.
  23. Basch E, Gabardi S, Ulbricht C. Bitter melon: a review of efficacy and safety. Am J Health Syst Pharm, 60(4):356-359, 2003. 
Normal 0 false false false EN-US ZH-CN AR-SA MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

Cucumis esculentus Salisb., Cucumis hardwickii Royle, Cucumis muricatus Willd., Cucumis sativus L.  var. nepalensis Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. rossicus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. hardwickii (Royle)Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. viridis Ser., Cucumis sativus L.  var. setosus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. turcicus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. hollandicus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. serotinus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. excellens Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. fastigiatus Ser., Cucumis sativus L.  var. flavus Ser., Cucumis sativus L.  var. variegatus Ser., Cucumis sativus L.  var. albus Ser., Cucumis sativus L.  forma albus Hiroe, Cucumis sativus L.  var. curtus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. flexuosus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. donii Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. praecox Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. pallidus Alef., Cucumis sativus L.  var. sikkimensis Hook.f., Cucumis sativus L.  var. vulgaris Alef., Cucumis sphaerocarpus Gabaev    

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