Advisory on mahogany seeds after 7 cases of liver injury

The fruit of the mahogany seeds is often called sky fruit (above). The affected people, in their 40s to 70s, had eaten the seeds in raw form (left, bottom) and in capsules (left, top). The HSA said all are reported to have recovered or are recovering
The fruit of the mahogany seeds is often called sky fruit (above).PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO, HSA
The affected people, in their 40s to 70s, had eaten the seeds in raw form (right) and in capsules. The HSA said all are reported to have recovered or are recovering after they stopped taking the suspected products.
The affected people, in their 40s to 70s, had eaten the seeds in raw form (right) and in capsules. The HSA said all are reported to have recovered or are recovering after they stopped taking the suspected products.

There have been seven cases of liver injury reported in recent years that are suspected to be linked to eating mahogany seeds, which are more commonly known as sky fruit.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said it received these reports over the past three years, where patients had liver injuries ranging from mild liver function impairment to liver failure.

These seven patients, who are in their 40s to 70s, had eaten the mahogany seeds in both raw form and in capsules. Five of them were hospitalised, HSA said in a public advisory yesterday.

Apart from liver injuries, a patient had kidney injuries and another had polyarthralgia, which is multiple joint aches and pain.

HSA said all patients were reported to have recovered or are recovering after they stopped taking the suspected products.

The fruit of the mahogany seeds is commonly known as sky fruit, or buah tunjuk langit in Malay, and xiang tian guo in Chinese.

It is traditionally used in South-east Asian countries to help control blood sugar and high blood pressure. However, HSA said there are no clinical studies in humans supporting its effectiveness or safety.

  • SYMPTOMS AND ADVICE ON SIMILAR 'REMEDIES'

  • • Be aware that local cases of liver injury have been reported in some individuals following the consumption of mahogany seeds (both in the raw and capsule forms).

    • Consult a doctor if you feel unwell or develop any of the following signs and symptoms of liver injury when taking mahogany seeds: Nausea, loss of appetite, lethargy, dark urine, the whites of the eyes turning yellow or jaundiced.

    • Consult your doctor if you would like to try a new or complementary remedy that claims to alleviate certain medical conditions, especially for chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

The patients had eaten the seeds to control their blood sugar or blood pressure, or for general well-being, HSA added. Five of the patients ate them in their raw form - between 10 seeds a month and 18 seeds a day - after buying them from sources in Singapore and Malaysia. One took the capsules intermittently, and the other consumed two capsules twice a day.

One product, from a Singapore blogshop, was labelled "Natural Miracle Healer", while the other was an unknown brand from Malaysia.

HSA said most of the patients had underlying medical conditions, including diabetes, hypertension and fatty liver. They were taking other medications concurrently.

Six patients experienced liver injury 30 to 45 days after eating the seeds. The remaining patient had liver injury after six months.

While there is no scientific data on the risk of liver injury from taking mahogany seeds, HSA advised those thinking of taking the products to exercise caution.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2018, with the headline 'Advisory on mahogany seeds after 7 cases of liver injury'. Print Edition | Subscribe