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Medical experts caution against herbal remedies

New Delhi: The herbal remedies for various diseases may boomerang if proper care is not taken in their application, caution medical experts.

The death of a CSIR scientist in Delhi, who suffered from diabetes, reportedly due to complications arising out of drinking a mixture of bottle gourd and bitter gourd juices has sparked a debate about the efficacy of such remedies.

Doctors say that the scientist, Sushil Kumar Saxena, 59, died of bottle gourd poisoning. Botanists say that vegetables like bottle gourd, bitter gourd, cucumber, squash, pumpkin and melon can turn lethal if they taste bitter as they have a tetracyclic triterpenoid cucurbitacin compound which is highly toxic. The compound is responsible for the bitterness in vegetables. As such, doctors suggest these vegetables should be consumed in limited quantity.

‘High quantity poisonous'

Dr. Anoop Misra, Head of the Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases at Fortis Group of Hospitals here, said, “Anything consumed in high quantity is always poisonous. It creates electrolyte disturbances in the body.”

“Bottle gourd or bitter gourd does no harm if consumed in the right quantity. Their quantity in the form of curry is the right quantity to be had in form of juices,” he said.

He also said that in the past the AIIMS had conducted trials related to the efficacy of herbal drugs on different diseases. “The conclusion that we drew is that these herbal cures are not 100 per cent treatment for diseases like diabetes or any other disease. One can have these in restricted quantity and also should continue with the mainline medication,” he said.

Dr. Ashok Jhingan, senior consultant diabetologist and chairman of Delhi Diabetes Research Centre, said, “These vegetables like bitter gourd or bottle gourd do not have any such ingredients that can stimulate pancreas or reduce insulin resistance.” - PTI

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