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Chinese Wax Gourd Peel (Dong Gua Pi)

Close up of Chinese Wax Gourd Peel (Dong Gua Pi)

What is Chinese Wax Gourd Peel (Dong Gua Pi)?

Chinese Wax Gourd Peel (dong gua pi, 冬瓜皮), also known as Exocarpium Benincasea or Winter Melon Peel, refers to the exocarp of the Benincasa hispida fruit, which belongs to the Cicirnotaceae family. In China, these fruits are grown in provinces such as Hebei, Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Sichuan.

The plants flower from July to September, while its seeds ripen from August to November. Its fruits are usually harvested at the end of summer when they turn ripe. Afterwards, exocarp will be shaved from Chinese wax gourds and collected during food preparation. These peels will later be sliced into long thin pieces that will turn dull green after being dried for medicinal usage.

First recorded in The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica (神农本草经, Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing), every part of the Benincasa hispida fruit can be used as either food or medicine. The usage of Dong Gua Pi in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is first recorded in Materia Medica of the Kaibao Reign (开宝本草, Kai Bao Ben Cao) for removing lower abdomen water distension, diuresis and quenching thirst with taste sweet and slightly cold, authored by Han Liu and Zhi Ma in Song Dynasty.

Cool in nature, Dong Gua Pi can help individuals with too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Deficiency or a Yang Excess, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance. Sweet in taste, Dong Gua Pi can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body, and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Dong Gua Pi targets the Spleen and small intestines. 

Functions and Benefits of Chinese Wax Gourd Peel (Dong Gua Pi)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Dong Gua Pi has the following health benefits.

Dong Gua Pi can promote urination and clear Heat. By inducing diuresis, Dong Gua Pi can relieve oedema, especially oedema caused by Damp-Heat, abdominal distention, urinary difficulties and other summer-Heat disorders. 

As Dong Gua Pi has a mild harmonizing effect, it is usually used with other herbs that can promote urination and clear Heat to enhance its effectiveness. For example, to treat edema more effectively, Dong Gua Pi can be combined with Poria (Fu Ling), Adzuki Bean (Chi Xiao Dou) and Rhizoma Imperatae (Bai Mao Gen).

Modern studies have also identified that Dong Gua Pi contains many functional ingredients that are beneficial to the human body, which translates into biological functions such as lipid-lowering, hypoglycemic, anti-oxidation, antibacterial, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

Close up of Chinese Wax Gourd Peel (Dong Gua Pi) in white background
In TCM, Chinese Wax Gourd Peel (Dong Gua Pi) is effective in relieving water retention.

How to Use Chinese Wax Gourd Peel (Dong Gua Pi)

The recommended daily dosage of Dong Gua Pi is 15 – 30g, when used as a decoction. Chinese Wax Gourd Peel can be used alone to make medicinal diet and tea. For example, it can be used to make Wax Gourd Peel- Black Bean soup, which can clear Heat and remove Dampness through diuresis and the removal of toxins from the body. Chinese Wax Gourd Peel is also often used with other herbs such as Lotus Leaf and Cassia Seed to make tea.

Dong Gua Pi and its products may be found in herbal stores and Asian specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Chinese Wax Gourd Peel (Dong Gua Pi)

Dong Gua Pi should be used with caution by individuals who have a weak Spleen or weak stomach.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Dong Gua Pi to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Chinese Wax Gourd Peel (Dong Gua Pi):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 冬瓜皮
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): dōng guā pí
  • Herb name (English): Chinese Waxground Peel
  • Herb name (Botanical): Exocarpium Benincasae
  • Origin of species: Benincasa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn.
  • Part(s) of herb used: Exocarp
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Most parts of China
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet; Cool; Administrates the Spleen and Small Intestine Meridians
  • Actions: Relieves water retention; Eases symptoms of heat stroke

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