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Danger to life due to bitter substances in vegetables: the elderly patient has to go to the clinic after a courgette dish

Danger to life due to bitter substances in vegetables: the elderly patient has to go to the clinic after a courgette dish


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Bitter substances in zucchini can cause massive discomfort
Courgettes are one of the most popular vegetables in the home garden. But be careful: the home-grown vegetables can be a major health hazard. Because it contains the poison cucurbitacin in rare cases, which in the worst can even lead to death. A 78-year-old woman from Rendsburg had to be hospitalized for several days because of zucchini poisoning.

Zucchini triggers symptoms of intoxication
Vegetables from your own garden are usually particularly tasty - but can sometimes be dangerous. This is shown by a current case from Schleswig-Holstein. As reported by the "Schleswig-Holsteinische Landeszeitung" (SHZ), a 78-year-old woman from Rendsburg caused a zucchini she had grown herself to cause severe poisoning and a three-day hospital stay.

Unusually bitter taste
Elke Frahm had therefore been given the vegetables as a gift. It came from a friend's brother's garden and was 100 percent organic. The lady ate two of the zucchini without any problems, but the third led to poisoning and caused massive discomfort. Elke Frahm had cut them into small pieces for a soup and noticed a bitter taste when tasting them. This remained even after peeling: "When I tried a piece again, it still tasted extraordinarily bitter," the 78-year-old told SHZ.

Bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain
The Rendsburgerin therefore used the zucchini as a precaution, but apparently the pieces tasted had already been enough. After a short time, serious symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, massive abdominal pain and vomiting appeared. After the patient had reported her complaints to a friend via SMS, she advised them to go to the clinic immediately: "You have to go to the hospital, which can be fatal," according to the girlfriend of the SHZ.

The patient has to stay in the clinic for three days
Two neighbors took the woman to the Imland clinic. However, after an initial examination, the doctor believes that she should contact her family doctor. Elke Frahm was exhausted and replied: "How am I supposed to do it? I can't go on, ”reports the newspaper. Finally, she was treated in the clinic for three days. When she was released, she had it in writing: eating the zucchini had led to so-called cucurbitacin poisoning. In the meantime, the patient has recovered, but what she has experienced has left its mark: "Zucchini no longer come into my pot," says Elke Frahm.

Reactivation of the bitter substances through stress
Cucurbitacin is made from pumpkin plants such as zucchini, cucumber or melon to protect their fruits. The ability to produce these substances was actually bred out of the useful plants. But does the plant stand e.g. due to long-lasting heat under stress, the substances may be reactivated. The poison can also arise if seeds with backcrosses containing the bitter substances are used. In 2015, there was a death from poisonous zucchini from the garden. At that time, a 79-year-old pensioner from Baden-Württemberg had died.

Expert tip: Follow your own taste
Protection against poisoning is provided by a simple taste test before preparing the vegetables. If it tastes bitter, if it is spit out immediately and the affected vegetables are not used, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) informs. However, this requires a working sense of taste. People who are restricted here should ask other people for help. (No)

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