An expert committee formed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 2011 had ruled that people should not drink bottle gourd juice if it tasted bitter. The bitter bottle gourd contains compounds that may cause complications and even death.
Critical care expert Kapil Borawake said, “ I see around one or two such cases almost every year. Quite a few people take this particular vegetable’s juice in Pune. People should not consume the juice if it tastes bitter. The awareness about this is very low among people.”
Bottle gourd poisoning poses a diagnostic dilemma before treating doctors. “It is often confused with gastrointestinal sepsis. The treatment is mainly supportive and symptomatic. There is no antidote for this type of poisoning,” he said.
Borawake has seen quite a few patients with bottle gourd poisoning in the past few years. “I treated the first patient at Prayag Hospital in 2011. He was a middle-aged man, who had undergone angioplasty. I had sent samples of the bottle gourd juice that he had drank to Kochi-based Amruta Institute of Medical Sciences for toxicological study. The sample had tested positive for Cucurbitacin, a poisonous compound often seen in the bitter bottle gourd,” Borawake said.
Senior general practitioner Avinash Bhondwe said, “Vegetable juice vendors are often seen making brisk business outside public gardens in Pune. There is no check on how they function.”