V: Mythbust Monday — The Coconut Cure

Well it’s that time of the week — the dreaded Monday. But fear not! Mondays are fun and exciting here at She Speaks Poignards!

Today we’re tackling a common urban legend: Coconut water can be used in place of saline solution in an emergency.

Is it true? Can you really pump coconut water into the veins of a wounded person and actually do some good, or is it all an elaborate falsehood? We shall see.

Let’s start with IV drips.

The purpose of intravenous saline is to directly hydrate the body using a sterile solution of of sodium chloride, water, and a small amount of glucose. It’s most commonly used when a person is losing blood, is dehydrated, has a low electrolyte-water ratio, is unable to consume their daily water and salt needs by mouth, or is being treated for basically any medical abnormality. If the solution is not sterile, it can cause infections, phlebitis (inflammation of the vein), infiltration (fluid being injected into the tissue surrounding the vein), hypothermia (as a result of the IV fluid being too cold), electrolyte imbalance, embolisms (as a result of an improperly prepared drip, allowing bubbles to enter the vein), and a number of other serious problems.

So how does coconut water measure up to saline?

Coconut water is the clear liquid which exists naturally inside young coconuts to nourish the fruit’s flesh. It contains potassium, minerals, antioxidants, and cytokinins, which promote plant cell growth. Importantly, it is sterile, and its composition is very similar to that of human plasma. However, it’s far too low in sodium and far too high in calcium and potassium. Also, if you’re using coconut water as an IV, you probably don’t have access to sterile needles or a drip setup, making the risk of embolism and infection extremely high.

In conclusion, yes, it is technically possible to give a dehydrated person a coconut water IV in an emergency, but it’s way safer and probably more beneficial to just have them drink it. Also, you can’t get an infection or an embolism and die from drinking coconut water, so that’s a bonus.

Don’t go putting fruit juice in  your veins, people.

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