Does drinking bottle gourd juice help in treating a heart attack? An emphatic No!

Twitter page 'We Hindus' shared a post suggesting the effectiveness of lauki juice in treating heart attacks, drawing flak from all quarters.

BySumit Jha

Published Jun 08, 2023 | 8:30 AM Updated Jun 08, 2023 | 8:30 AM

Speaking to South First, cardiologists advised against following any advice that is not based on scientific evidence. (Creative Commons)

With the increasing number of heart attack cases in the country, there has been a surge in the promotion of various “organic” treatments on social media platforms. One such treatment gaining attention is the consumption of lauki (bottle gourd) juice to treat heart attacks.

A Twitter user, We Hindu, who goes by the handle @SanatanTalks, shared a post suggesting the effectiveness of lauki juice in treating heart attacks. The post quickly gained traction — receiving over 3,600 retweets, 12,000 likes, and around eight lakh views.

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The words of a viral tweet

The post states that 3,000 years ago in India, there lived a renowned sage named Maharishi Vagvat ji. He authored a book called Ashtang Hrudayam, which contained 7,000 formulae for treating various ailments.

One of these focused on heart attacks and the underlying cause of blocked heart arteries. According to Vagvat ji, an increase in acidity in the blood leads to the onset of heart blockage. He identified two types of acidity, according to the tweet.

“One is the acidity of the stomach and the other is the acidity of the blood. When the acidity in your stomach increases, you will say that you are feeling a burning sensation in the stomach with sour breath,” reads the tweet.

In the case of increased stomach acidity, it leads to hyperacidity. Additionally, when the acidity of the stomach rises and enters the bloodstream, it causes blood acidity, according to the tweet, and results in heart blockages and attacks.

It further adds that the treatment for increased blood acidity is to consume alkaline substances. Acidic and alkaline substances, when mixed, create a neutral effect. Therefore, according to the tweet, Vagvat ji advises intake of alkaline foods to neutralise blood acidity and prevent the possibility of a heart attack.

The tweet mentions that one such alkaline food is bottle gourd, also known as lauki or dudhi.

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Does lauki juice stop a heart attack?

Speaking to South First, cardiologists replied with an empathetic “No!”. It doesn’t work scientifically, they said.

“From a scientific perspective, it is important to rely on evidence-based information when it comes to medical treatments and dietary recommendations. It is necessary to have solid scientific evidence before making any claims or suggestions. So, no it doesn’t work,” Hyderabad-based cardiologist Dr P Nagesh Rao told South First.

He said that personal viewpoints and experiences may vary, but it is essential to rely on well-established scientific evidence rather than engage in contentious discussions.

Refuting the claim, Dr Deepak Krishnamurthy, Senior Interventional Cardiologist at Sakra World Hospital in Bengaluru, called it “one absolute load of rubbish about heart attack and how it happens said in the name of a Saint (I am fairly certain he did not say it)”. “The basic tenets of anatomy, physiology and pathology have been thrown into the dustbin here.” said Dr Krishnamurthy in a Twitter post.

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Another cardiologist from Tamil Nadu, Dr Ravishankar Sadasivam, asked to keep science away from religion. “Ayurvedha is a humoral system that describes diseases based on Tridoshas. Blood acidity is not a basis of heart attacks. I have stented 7 archakas (priests) in temples who really lived saintly life. 4 of them were brought in near dead state,” he posted on Twitter.

He added that dietary and lifestyle practices of Jainism, Buddhism and orthodox Hinduism are generally good. “But they are far from being adequate to prevent diseases. This particular theory regarding prevention of MI (myocardial infarction) through a 21-day diet prescription is nonsensical and is a misinformation,” said Dr Sadasivam.

Surprisingly, even an Ayurveda practitioner refuted the claim.

“With all due respect to the (Twitter) handle, there is no concept of alkaline and acid in Ayurveda per se. Please don’t promote wrong concepts in the name of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is very scientific and this acidic and alkaline concept is not part of it,” said Dr Shrinidh Nair, an Ayurveda practitioner.

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Case of bottle gourd juice toxicity 

In 2018, a 41-year-old woman from Pune died after consuming bottle gourd juice.

In another case study, which was published in the World Journal of Emergency Medicine, a case of 51-year-old woman in India dying after consuming bottle gourd juice was presented.

The study stated, “As a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, bottle gourd contains toxic tetracyclic triterpenoid compounds called cucurbitacins, which are responsible for the bitter taste and toxicity. There is no known antidote for this toxicity and clinicians treat such patients symptomatically only. It is important to educate the public about the harmful effects of this potentially life-threatening toxicity.”

Understanding heart disease

“When it comes to food and diet for people suffering from heart-related disease, it is essential to understand individual factors such as medical history, conditions like hypertension or high cholesterol, and personal values. Customising one’s diet based on these factors is important, in alignment with established scientific principles,” Dr Abhijit Vilas Kulkarni, a cardiologist at Apollo Hospitals in Bengaluru, told South First.

Dr Nagesh Rao added that if there is rise in heart-related disease, it is because factors like stress, high cholesterol, and uncontrolled diabetes are more prevalent now in society. Furthermore, it’s important to recognise that many times, it’s unusual for these problems to occur purely by chance.

“These individuals should undergo more comprehensive testing to identify any existing problems and determine the most appropriate medical or surgical interventions,” said Dr Rao.

Adding to this, Dr Kulkarni said that it’s vital to intensify investigations and screenings for those at higher risk.

“We shouldn’t overlook the significance of discussing symptoms and seeking medical advice, particularly when individuals may not experience noticeable symptoms,” he said.

Notice symptoms? Consult doctor

“Unlike in some Western countries, where individuals often contact emergency services or medical professionals to discuss their symptoms, there seems to be a gap in such discussions in our country. Instead, individuals often rely on well-intentioned but uninformed advice from friends and family. It’s crucial to bridge this gap and encourage people to seek professional advice when they have alarming symptoms,” Dr Kulkarni added.

He also said that if an individual is experiencing alarming sensations like burning, sweating, or unusual feelings, individuals should promptly consult their doctor.

“It’s better to go to the emergency room, get an ECG done, and follow the advice of medical professionals. It’s important to understand that expecting a personal physician to be available at all times is not practical, so seeking appropriate care in a timely manner is crucial,” said Dr Kulkarni.

Also Read: Word of advice from India’s top cardiologist

The Twitter handle’s clarification

After being refuted, the twitter handle “We Hindu” clarified that the information it provided was meant to “avoid not to cure, same has been mentioned clearly in tweet. If any such circumstances come please reach to your doctor immediately”.