A potential poison it seems is a favourite vegetable with most of us! If you are wondering what we are talking about you are advised to taste your doodhi before you eat it. For, if it tastes bitter, it is more likely that you are staring at a potentially poisonous veggie that can even kill you.
But unfortunately KL Dargar, a 60-year-old native of Mehasana did not have anybody to warn him when he drank a glass of fresh bottle gourd (doodhi) juice. Dargar, had no reason to suspect the innocent looking doodhi, for he had been drinking a glass of doodhi juice on an empty stomach every morning for the last twenty years. But this time the healthy drink almost got him killed for he ignored the fact that the doodhi juice tasted bitter when he drank it.
In fact, experts say one needs to stay away from bitter bottle gourd, cucumber, squash, pumpkin and melon. These vegetables, which are considered one of the healthiest, belong to the cucurbitaceae family.
Cucurbitacins are complex compounds found in plants belonging to cucumber family.
The tetracyclic triterpinpoid cucurbitacins compounds are responsible for its bitterness and are highly toxic. A 1.2 mg dose of these toxic compounds is capable of killing a mouse. It can cause humans to vomit blood." The last time when I drank freshly extracted bottle gourd juice, it tasted quite bitter. Usually the juice has no taste," said Dargar. "Within minutes, I had severe stomach ache, and I started vomiting blood," he said. Dargar said that the bottle gourd used for extracting the juice was as innocuous as any other. Within minutes of consuming the bitter juice Darga felt sweaty, dizzy and collapsed. He was rushed to the Apollo hospital's emergency department.
Dr Shravan Bohra, chief gastroenterologist, at Apollo Hospitals, Ahmedabad, said, "We treated Dargar for a case of bottle gourd poisoning. He was also treated for blood vomiting." Bohra said that an endoscopy revealed that his stomach was found to be bleeding profusely. "Some swelling and bleeding was also noticed in the upper small intestine. The state of the stomach was such as one would get to see if a person consumed acid used for toilet cleaning," he said.
Bohra, secretary Gujarat Society of Gastroenterology, also said that Dargar's case was a typical case bottle gourd poisoning and such cases have also been recently reported in Mumbai, New Delhi and Rajasthan.
He said that higher levels of cucurbitacins compounds are triggered by high temperature, wide temperature swings and also due to improper storage of vegetables. "Due to these factors the vegetable becomes over-mature which leads to development of toxic cucurbitacins compounds." Bohra said.
He said that these chemicals when come in contact with the stomach, lead to bleeding in the stomach.
"These toxins when absorbed into the blood causes swelling in the liver, pancreas, gall bladder and kidney. This in turn can lead to multi-organ dysfunction which can be fatal in some cases," he said.
Thankfully for Dargar, he survived as he had consumed just 50-ml of the bitter bottle-gourd juice and was immediately taken to hospital when he felt unwell.
"After spending five days in intensive care unit (ICU), Dargar is now completely out of danger and likely to go home in the next few days," Bohra said.