Achocha/Caihua is a slender tropical vine with long tendrils for climbing originally from South America. The leaves are 4-5" wide and divided into several lobes. It produces a pale green, semi-flattened fruit like a cucumber 3-5" long and 1-2" wide that is hollow with several black seeds resembling tree bark. In Central and South America the fruits are eaten either raw or cooked after removal of the seeds. They are also prepared as stuffed peppers; stuffed with meat, fish or cheese and then baked or fresh.
Medical studies in Peru have shown that achocha can lower cholesterol levels. In herbal medicine a tea from the seeds is used for controlling high blood pressure. The seeds and/or the fruits are also recommended for gastrointestinal disorders. The leaves are considered hypoglycemic and prepared in a decoction for diabetes. The fruits are boiled in milk and gargled for tonsilitis. The fruit juice is also recommended for high cholesterol, hypertension, tonsilitis, arteriosclerosis, circulatory problems, diabetes and as a diuretic. The fruit and/or the leaves are boiled in olive oil and used externally as a topical anti-inflammatory and analgesic. The roots are used to clean the teeth.
Approximately 10 seeds per pack