Explainer: Bottle gourd poisoning is a fact; know how this humble vegetable can turn fatal for you – Times of India

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Bottle gourd or lauki is commonly used in Indian households. It is a vegetable belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family; other vegetables like cucumber, bitter gourd, squash, pumpkin and water-melon are also a part of this family. In India it is called Lauki in Hindi, Laau in Odia, Dudhi in Marathi, Sorekayi in Kannada. The vegetable is widely used in Indian households and is made into several dishes ranging from spicy ones to simple raita.
Bottle gourd is also a favorite home remedy for weight loss, for dehydration, constipation and also for heart.
It is also said to be a very effective remedy for diabetes.
If you see someone having a glass of lauki ka juice early in the morning or a concoction of it, do not be surprised; it is because the pulpy vegetable is seen as a miracle vegetable in the country.
Read: Vitamin B12 overdose-Side effects of taking too many supplements; know when to stop

However, there are certain toxins in the bottle gourd, which one should be careful about. It contains toxic tetracyclic triterpenoid compounds called cucurbitacins which are responsible for the bitter taste and toxicity. The plant produces this toxin as a defence mechanism against herbivore animals.

So far, there are no antidotes for this toxicity.
Bottle gourd juice with bitter taste can cause toxic reactions in the body and lead to abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, hematemesis, hematochezia, shock and even death.
It is therefore advisable to not consume the drink if it tastes bitter.
As per a research study, the symptoms of toxicity due to bottle gourd appears within an hour of consumption. The initial symptoms of the poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, upper gastrointestinal bleeding and hypotension.
Studies say consuming 50-300 ml of cucurbitacin can generate symptoms like gastrointestinal bleeding and diarrhea and the symptoms can get severe if one consumes the juice more than this limit.
In 2021, Tahira Kashyap had shared how consuming a concoction bitter tasting lauki led to bouts of vomiting. After being treated for the same for two days in the ICU, Kashyap had shared her experience on social media platform, Instagram, and had urged people not to have lauki if it tastes bitter. She used to have a glass of turmeric, lauki and amla every morning. But that day, despite getting a bitter taste, she had it and as per her doctor the toxicity was the same as having cyanide.

She said she mistook the bitterness to be a high amount of vitamin C. Soon after consuming it she had 17 bouts of vomit and her blood pressure had dropped to 40.
Before making the juice, cut a slice of the lauki and taste it raw. If it tastes bitter, discard it. You should proceed further, only if the bottle gourd tastes normal, which is watery, and neutral.

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