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Eating raw gallbladder of fish harmful for kidney, warn doctors


NEW DELHI, MAY 5, 2023

Doctors have warned that consumption of raw gallbladder of any fish can take a toll on the health of your kidney.

Their warning followed after they investigated Seta Devi, 48, a resident of Ranchi, who was having severe kidney damage. When questioned, she admitted to having consumed the raw gallbladder of a locally accessible “rohu” (Labeo rohita) for three days to cure her diabetes as prescribed by a local quack.

Raw fish gallbladder consumption is a common practice in certain regions of Asia including India, particularly eastern and southern India. It is traditionally believed to cure diabetes mellitus, bronchial asthma, arthritis and visual disturbances amongst others.

The most commonly implicated fish species are the Rohu (Labeo rohita) and the Catla (Catla catla), which are both commonly consumed in many parts of the country.

According to Dr (Prof) AK Bhalla, Chairman, Department of Nephrology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, “It is important to note that the risk of kidney injury is not limited to these two species of fish and can also occur with the consumption of gallbladder from other types of fish. Therefore, I recommend avoiding the consumption of raw fish gallbladder altogether to prevent potential health risks.

 “These fish naturally produce high levels of bile in their digestive systems, which can be harmful to humans when ingested in large quantities.”

The bile contains a toxin called cyprinol, which has been shown to cause kidney damage in humans. Symptoms of fish bile-associated kidney injury can include abdominal pain, vomiting, and decreased urine output. In severe cases, the condition can lead to kidney failure and even death.

According to Dr Vaibhav Tiwari, Consultant, Department of Nephrology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, “To prevent fish bile-associated kidney injury, we recommend avoiding consuming fish that are known to have high levels of bile. It is also important to ensure that fish is properly prepared and cooked thoroughly, as this can help to reduce the levels of toxins present in the fish.”

He added, “in addition to these precautions, individuals who experience symptoms of fish bile-associated kidney injury should seek medical attention immediately. Treatment may involve supportive care, such as hydration and pain management, as well as measures to protect the kidneys from further damage. In this particular case, timely diagnosis and initiation of appropriate therapy ensured optimal outcome.”

Seta Devi after consuming the gall bladder of the fish hoping that her diabetes will be treated instead suffered severe nausea and vomiting after a few days. Her family brought her to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital since her condition was deteriorating. She was admitted to the Department of Nephrology and underwent two hemodialysis treatments.

Her kidney biopsy revealed significant inflammation. She was given high-dose steroids as well as supportive care. Her kidney function began to improve on the seventh day, and she was discharged two weeks later with normal kidney function, said the doctors at the hospital.

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