Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Angled Loofah, Courge Éponge, Courge Torchon, Dishcloth Sponge, Éponge Loofa, Éponge Végétale, Laine Torchon des Antilles, Liane Torchon, Loofa, Loofah, Lufa, Luffa acutangula, Luffa aegyptiaca, Luffa cylindrical, Luffa operculata, Luffaschwamm, Papangaye, Sigualuo, Sponge Cucumber, Vegetable Sponge, Water Gourd.


Luffa is a plant. When the mature fruit is allowed to dry, a fibrous, sponge-like structure remains. The fibers can be boiled in water, which is then used as medicine.

Luffa is taken by mouth for treating and preventing colds. It is also used for nasal swelling and sinus problems. Some people use it for arthritis pain, muscle pain, and chest pain.

Women use luffa to restore absent menstrual periods. Nursing mothers use it to increase milk flow.

Sometimes the whole luffa “sponge” is rubbed against the skin to remove dead skin and stimulate the skin. Luffa charcoal, which is prepared by heating luffa fibers in a closed container, is applied directly to the skin for shingles in the face and eye region.

In foods, young luffa fruits are eaten as vegetables.

In cosmetics, powdered luffa is used in skin care products to reduce swelling and “detoxify” the skin.

How does it work?

There isn't enough information to know how luffa might work.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Seasonal allergies (allergic rhinitis). Early research suggests that using a specific homeopathic nasal spray (Luffa comp.-Heel Nasal Spray by Biologische Heilmittel Heel GmbH) containing luffa, Galphimia glauca, histamine, and sulfur four times daily for 42 days helps control seasonal allergy symptoms. The effects appear to be similar to the effects of nasal spray containing the drug cromolyn sodium.
  • Nasal swelling (sinusitis). Early research suggests that taking a specific homeopathic product (Sinsitis PMD tablets by Bionorica) containing luffa, lungmoss, and potassium dichromate for about 2 weeks helps relieve symptoms of sinusitis.
  • Treating and preventing colds.
  • Sinus problems.
  • Pain.
  • Menstrual problems.
  • Promoting breast-milk production.
  • Removing dead skin, when the intact luffa “sponge” is rubbed against the skin.
  • Stimulating the skin, when the intact luffa “sponge” is rubbed against the skin.
  • Shingles infection in the face and eye area, when charcoal made from luffa is applied directly to the affected area.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of luffa for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Luffa is LIKELY SAFE for most people when applied directly to the skin as a sponge. However, the safety of using luffa charcoal for shingles is unknown. Luffa is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts. But there isn't enough information to know if luffa is safe when taken as medicine. The possible side effects of luffa are unknown.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Luffa is POSSIBLY SAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women in food amounts. But larger medicinal amounts should be avoided until more is known.


The appropriate dose of luffa depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for luffa. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Kawahara, N., Kurata, A., Hakamatsuka, T., Sekita, S., and Satake, M. Two new cucurbitacin glucosides, opercurins A and B, from the Brazilian folk medicine "Buchinha" (Luffa operculata). Chem.Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2004;52(8):1018-1020. View abstract.

Kawahara, N., Kurata, A., Hakamatsuka, T., Sekita, S., and Satake, M. Two novel cucurbitacins, neocucurbitacins A and B, from the Brazilian folk medicine "Buchinha" (Luffa operculata) and their effect on PEBP2alphaA and OCIF gene expression in a human osteoblast-like Saos-2 cell line. Chem.Pharm.Bull.(Tokyo) 2001;49(10):1377-1379. View abstract.

Kloss, P. [On the bitter substance from Luffa operculata Cogn.]. Arch Pharm Ber.Dtsch.Pharm Ges. 1966;299(4):351-355. View abstract.

Matos, F. D. J. and Gottlieb, O. R. Isocucurbitacine B Cytotoxic Constituant of Luffa Operculata. So Anais Da Acadamia Brasileira De Ciencias 1967;39(2):245.

Menon-Miyake, M. A., Carvalho de, Oliveira R., Lorenzi-Filho, G., Saldiva, P. H., and Butugan, O. Luffa operculata affects mucociliary function of the isolated frog palate. Am J Rhinol. 2005;19(4):353-357. View abstract.

Menon-Miyake, M. A., Saldiva, P. H., Lorenzi-Filho, G., Ferreira, M. A., Butugan, O., and Oliveira, R. C. Luffa operculata effects on the epithelium of frog palate: histological features. Braz.J Otorhinolaryngol. 2005;71(2):132-138. View abstract.

Adler, M. Efficacy and safety of a fixed-combination homeopathic therapy for sinusitis. Adv Ther 1999;16(2):103-111. View abstract.

Weiser, M., Gegenheimer, L. H., and Klein, P. A randomized equivalence trial comparing the efficacy and safety of Luffa comp.-Heel nasal spray with cromolyn sodium spray in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. Forsch Komplementarmed 1999;6(3):142-148. View abstract.

Wiesenauer, M., Gaus, W., Bohnacker, U., and Haussler, S. [Efficiency of homeopathic preparation combinations in sinusitis. Results of a randomized double blind study with general practitioners]. Arzneimittelforschung 1989;39(5):620-625. View abstract.

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