If you frequently experience indigestion, chances are, you’ve heard of omum water as it is a common home remedy to relieve indigestion. After all, omum is a seed (also known as Bishop’s weed) that yields an essential oil extract with the ability to treat stomach-related ailments including stomach aches and constipation.
Recently however, a 55-year-old operations manager, Gunalan Perumal ended up in the intensive care unit at the Singapore General Hospital for three days after taking a swig of omum water to treat his upset stomach, as reported by The Star.
Though he has previously drank omum water on several occasions to treat his indigestion, this time was different because upon his first gulp, he immediately felt burns in his mouth and throat. Yikes!
“I tried to drink cold water, but started vomiting instead,” Gunalan recounts his attempt to relieve the burn.
The drink was purchased by Gunalan’s wife from a mini mart near their home in Queen’s Road a few days earlier. Shocked by her husband’s reaction, she decided to take a sip too. “My lips started swelling and I was shocked that it tasted so different,” she said.
Channel News Asia also reported that preliminary investigations by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) revealed that the Sri Ambikkas Omum Water Gunalan had consumed contained a pH level of more than 13, which is akin to the levels found in chlorine bleach. OMG!
According to HSA, omum water is supposed to have a neutral pH of 7.4 to 7.9, which is just like ordinary water, instead of a high alkaline content. Otherwise, it may cause “adverse reactions, including injuries or burns to tissues (it comes in contact with)”.
The HSA has since filed a police report over this case. Also, they found that there was no poison or drug in the original sample after conducting tests on several drink samples. Besides that, the expiry date on the bottle had not passed whereas the seal was still intact prior to Gunalan drinking it.
Meanwhile, the mini mart in question has been quarantined for the time being and they have since halted sales of all the omum water as investigations are still ongoing.
Since the incident, Gunalan has also been discharged out of the hospital on August 8 and subsequently given a one-month medical leave whereas his wife received a one-day medical leave.
We wish Gunalan a speedy recovery and if you often stock up on omum water, do be extra careful and consume with caution!
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