Cucurbit poisoning, often referred to as toxic squash syndrome, is an uncommon illness that can result in severe hair loss and symptoms similar to food poisoning. Cucurbitacins are compounds that can be found in the Cucurbitaceae family, which also comprises of cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and squash. Chemicals called cucurbitacins give fruits their bitter flavor and make them poisonous. Normal fruit production results in little to no cucurbitacin production, however unintentional crop cross-pollination can result in high cucurbitacin levels. Whether or not the fruit is impacted by cucurbitacins, it appears normal, and unless a consumer takes a bitter bite, they might not notice anything is amiss. Toxic squash syndrome can result from continuing to eat the bitter fruit.
Some of the most rampant symptoms and indicators of toxic squash syndrome include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Toxic squash syndrome can be so severe that it can cause swelling in the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, and kidneys. Squash contains cucurbitacin E, a toxin that can make people ill and cause toxic squash syndrome or cucurbit poisoning.
Despite its rarity, cucurbit poisoning has been documented in medical literature before; in previous cases, individuals had food poisoning after consuming bitter squash, zucchini, and other gourds. People who enjoy squash should be aware that they should stop eating it right away if they notice bitterness after eating one of these well-known vegetables. But before you give up squash, zucchini, and other members of the cucurbitaceae family, remember that you should only stop eating it if it tastes off or bitter.
PDO I Ayesa Gay A. Bejerano, RND
Poisoned by Bitter Squash, Two Women Lose Their Hair
Toxic Squash Syndrome: Here’s What To Know And How To Avoid It
Pumpkin Lovers Beware: Know the Signs of Toxic Squash Syndrome