Noni Juice Said Potential
Hazard For Patients
With Kidney Disease
NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters Health) -- A type of fruit juice sold in health food stores can be a hidden source of potassium and thus could be hazardous for patients with kidney disease, a recent report warns.
Noni juice is sold as an herbal remedy and its users claim (on numerous websites) that it can help reduce high blood pressure, menstrual cramps, arthritis, ulcers, sprains, depression, sexual dysfunction, senility, heart disease and chronic fatigue syndrome, among other ailments. The juice is derived from the fruit of the noni tree (Morinda citrifolia).
However, the juice also contains potassium, but does not include this information on the label, according to a report in the February issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. While potassium alone is not hazardous (and is found in many fruit juices), it can be harmful for patients with kidney disease who cannot excrete the substance. If blood levels of potassium are too high, patients can suffer irregular heart rhythms and heart attack.
``Patients with kidney disease and unexplained hyperkalemia (high potassium levels) should be queried about their ingestion of herbal remedies and alternative medicine products because they may be a hidden source of potassium,'' report Dr. Bruce A. Mueller, of Purdue University in Indianapolis, Indiana, and colleagues.
The researchers report the case of a man with kidney disease who visited his doctor for a routine checkup. Blood tests indicated that potassium and other markers of kidney disease were dangerously high.
The patient denied consuming any potassium-rich foods such as bananas and orange juice but admitted that he had begun to drink a shot of noni juice before each meal. The juice, he claimed, had cured a relative of cancer.
The patient continued to drink the juice despite warnings that it may contain potassium and at his next visit, potassium remained elevated. The patient insisted that he would never stop drinking the juice and said the doctors ``did not understand the power of noni juice,'' according to the report. The patient never returned to the clinic.
The doctors purchased a bottle of noni juice from a health food store and had it analyzed in a lab. The potassium content of the juice was found to be similar to that of orange juice and tomato juice, which are generally restricted in the diets of patients with kidney disease.
According to the researchers, the case illustrates the potential dangers of herbal products, which, despite a lack of federal oversight, are becoming increasingly popular in the US.
``The use of herbal products by patients continues to grow, and (patients) often do not tell their healthcare providers about the use of these alternative therapies,'' Mueller and colleagues write. The researchers tested noni juice manufactured by Body Systems Technology, Inc. of Casselberry, Florida. SOURCE: American Journal of Kidney Diseases 2000;35:310-312.


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