The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday asked people to avoid drinking bottle gourd juice if it is bitter. It is consumed in India for controlling diabetes.
In an advisory to the public and physicians of all Indian systems of medicine, the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, said a small piece of bottle gourd (lauki) should be tasted, before extracting its juice, to make sure that it is not bitter. Also, it should not be mixed with any other juice, and medical help should be sought immediately if one felt discomfort, nausea, vomiting or any feeling of uneasiness after consuming lauki juice.
The advisory is based on the report of an expert committee of the Indian Council of Medical Research, chaired by S.K. Sharma, head of the Department of Medicine, AIIMS, which was set up to investigate the safety of consuming lauki juice.
Last year, a senior scientist died and his wife was taken ill seriously after they drank the juice which was bitter. The matter was also raised in Parliament by Botcha Jhansi Lakshmi, MP from Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh.
The committee said any patient with symptoms of discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and gastrointestinal bleeding after consumption of lauki juice should be put on IV fluids before a detailed examination of the vital organs was carried out. Details of the quantity of the juice consumed and its taste should be recorded.
As no specific antidote is available, physicians can manage the patients, putting them on IV fluids and blood transfusion including frozen plasma to maintain the haemodynamic and electrolyte balance, and containing gastrointestinal bleeding, according to the committee.