Consumption of bottle gourd juice unsafe, warns Delhi govt

Move comes after a doctor died last year after drinking lauki juice

Over a year after a doctor from Delhi succumbed to "lauki juice poisoning", the expert committee constituted by the Health Ministry, to study the possible side effects of bottle gourd, has certified it as unsafe for consumption.

A public advisory has been issued, banning the consumption of bottle gourd.

In June 2010, 59-year-old Sushil Kumar Saxena, a deputy secretary in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, died in Rockland Hospital after consuming a popular remedy prescribed by yoga guru Baba Ramdev — a glass of lauki and karela juice.

"Bottle gourd poisoning" was the official diagnosis of the expert panel that worked under Dr S K Sharma, Head of Department of medicine at AIIMS.

The advisory says: "A small piece of lauki should be tasted before extracting its juice to ensure that it is not bitter. It should not be consumed at all." The advisory also warns against mixing lauki juice with any other juice.

The advisory, which also included advice to doctors, has noted that: "No specific antidote is available" for lauki juice poisoning.

"Any case with symptoms of any nausea, discomfort, vomiting, diarrhoea, gastrointestinal bleeding after consumption of lauki juice should be immediately attended," the advisory says. It adds that further assessment should only be conducted, after "securing an IV route."

For treatment of such patients, the advisory says: "General supportive care, including administration of IV fluids and fresh frozen plasma to maintain hemodynamics and electrolyte balance, has been advised."

Since Saxena bled in his stomach, the committee has also suggested measures to assess and manage gastrointestinal bleeding. A whole range of diagnostic tests have been suggested, including kidney and liver function tests, X-ray, endoscopy and routine blood examination.

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