a) Watermelon Flesh:
Let’s start with the fruit (pulp) itself as you are all probably mostly familiar with that. In Chinese Medicine, that fleshy part of the watermelon is known as Xi Gua, and when eaten or drunk is an excellent, easy and economical way to rehydrate and clear ‘SummerHeat’ when you’re hot, thirsty, and have scant, dark urine indicating you’ve not had enough to drink. If you’re feeling particularly irritable, cool refreshing slices of watermelon can soothe the Savage Beast, and help relax and calm the mind (Shen). Probably everyone can relate to feeling good after eating a cold slice of watermelon on a hot Summer’s day. It’s also included as an ingredient in herbal formulas to help treat jaundice and promote urination.
b) Watermelon Rind:
Watermelon rind in Chinese Medicine is called Xi Gua Pi, whereas the outermost layer of the rind is called Xi Gua Cui Yi, and both are used in combo with other herbs to diurese or to treat jaundice, not necessarily to quench thirst.
º Another example of how watermelon can be beneficial, the rind is used in a popular Chinese herbal formula, Xi Gua Shuang (aka “Watermelon Frost” or “Sanjin Watermelon Frost Spray” (or lozenges). This is made from the stem end of the watermelon rind which has been allowed to sit for about 10 days with another Chinese herb in a cool dark place until a ‘frost’ develops on the skin, and then used to make a formula to help treat sore throat and toothaches amongst other things.
º And finally, this precious ripe watermelon rind/peel that so many of us discard, when placed outside in the sun to dry naturally, now becomes Dong Gua Pi, loaded with vitamins and used to treat edema and diarrhea.
c) Watermelon Seed:
But wait, there’s more! Watermelon seed, aka Xi Gua Zi Ke, believe it or not, is used to treat tapeworms, roundworms, urinary tract infection and bed-wetting. Yup, you heard me right! The dried seeds can also be boiled as a tea and used to promote urination and lower blood pressure (thanks to amino acid, L-citrulline) and the seed cover is used to stop bleeding (upper or lower GI bleed). Try roasting the seeds and mix with other seeds like pistachios, pepitas or almonds, add a little sea-salt and you have a perfect savory snack loaded in zinc, magnesium and iron.
d) Watermelon Recipe Suggestions:
I know summer is over but if you are hankering for watermelon and haven’t dabbled yet in something new and different, try some recipes that incorporate watermelon such as:
º For your charcuterie board all year long, alternate watermelon and cucumber squares with rolled up slices of turkey/ham and mini mozzarella balls on wooden skewers and drizzle with balsamic glaze for a nice sweet/savory appetizer. Try watermelon salsa as a side with your Thanksgiving ham or turkey – how’s that for a change? And cheers to everyone after dinner with some watermelon mojitos!
º Pickled watermelon rinds are readily available in grocery stores and online as well as in local Farmer’s Markets, but you can very easily make your own ‘PWR’ by taking the white part of the rind and adding apple cider vinegar, salt, ginger, and other spices and boiling for about 30 minutes then bottling in sterile jars and refrigerating once cooled.
º Whenever I’m working in the garden (or if I’ve exercised up a storm) and I’m bored with drinking water or lemonade, I just blend chunks of watermelon (with or without any additional fruit) until it’s thin enough to drink. I never strain it since I love the pulp for added fiber. You can certainly throw in some fresh greens in there as well like spinach or kale and make a healthy smoothie, as watermelon is loaded with vitamins and electrolytes.
º For a refreshing summer salad that’s pretty to boot, try bite-sized cubes of watermelon & seedless cucumber mixed in with feta cheese crumbles and a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs like mint, cilantro or parsley leaves and a couple hits of thinly sliced red onions. Drizzle a little vinaigrette and you’ve clearly got a hit!
º Too lazy to do all that? Wanna go paint the town red (no pun intended)? Pop on over to your nearest Bonefish Grill(R) and sip on my personal favorite: watermelon martini!
So there you have it! Next year when Summer rolls around and watermelon is back in season, think back on all the wonderful properties of this delightful fruit (‘vegetable’ to some) and vow to partake some more. Here’s to your health!
Happy weeding; Happy eating!
Audrey Steele, L.Ac
“If people have time and patience, they will be able to count the number of seeds in a watermelon. But not one person can tell you how many watermelons will grow by planting one seed.” (Evelyn Murray Drayton)
º Murray M. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books; 2005
º Erhirhie EO, Ekene NE. Medicinal values on Citrullus lanatus (Watermelon): Pharmacological Review. International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences. 2013;4(4):1305-1312.
º Besnky, D., Clavey, S. & Stöger, E. Chinese herbal Medicine Materia Medica. USA: Eastland Press; 2004
Disclaimer: This information is educational in nature only, and is NOT intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader.