The Health Benefits of Starfruit

January 18, 2013


Recently, I read an article about eating two pieces of starfruit, everyday after breakfast and dinner will cure diabetes. Secondly, starfruit is also used to overcome kidney disease. It does not matter whether its ripe or unripe starfruit. But, I guess, all of us will take the ripe one.

But, wait! Does it just that simple? By eating starfruit will able to cure diabetes, and kidney disease? And, for how long? The article did not answer all the questions.

Starfruit, or Averrhoa carambola Linn, which in Indonesia is known as Belimbing, is a popular tropical fruit and native to the Southeast Asia. The ripe starfruit in Indonesia is sometimes used as a part of rujak (fruit salad), or by eating directly.

Controversies Over The Health Benefits of Starfruit

In Brazil, starfruit is used to treat kidney and bladder complaints. Starfruit is also believed to have a beneficial effect in the treatment of eczema.

But according to Joaquim Coutinho Netto, a Professor of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Immunology, Ribeirão Preto University, São Paulo, Brasil, starfruit can be fatal for diabetics. Netto discovered that starfruit contains neurotoxin, which capable of causing death, in patients with renal failure.

Professor Netto's study is just the same as the study result of Neto MM, or perhaps both of them are the same person, because their name similarity. Neto MM, had already observed six cases of dialysis patients who intoxicated by ingestion of star fruit.

The result, all six patients developed variety of symptoms ranging from insomnia and hiccups to agitation, mental confusion and a case of death.

Even though the name of Professor Netto and Neto MM, is different, but both of them were doing the same study. (Check the reference sites to clarify!)

In India, starfruit is commonly known as Kamrakh, or Golden Star. Starfruit is reported to contain mainly saponins, flavonoids, tannins and alkaloids.

In Ayurveda, starfruit is used as an antihelminthic. Antihelminthics, or also called vermifuges, are drugs that expel parasitic worms (helminths) from the body.

Starfruit is also used as anti malarial, febrifuge or antipyretic (anti fever), digestive tonic, antiscorbutic (rich in vitamin C) and antidote for poison.

Starfruit is considered as the best Indian cooling medicine. The ripe starfruit is used to stop bleeding (hemorrhages), and to relieve hemorrhoids. The starfruit juice can also be used as fever prevention.

In Chinese Materia Medica (Chinese herbology), it is stated that, Its diuretic action is to quench thirst, to increase the salivary secretion, and hence to allay fever. A decoction of combined starfruit and its leaves is drunk to overcome vomiting.

Starfruit flowers are given as a vermifuge (antihelminthic). Starfruit leaves which are bound on the temples, is managed to soothe headache.

Crushed leaves and shoots are used as a poultice by spreading on cloth over the skin to treat an aching, inflamed, or painful part of the body, such as, on the eruptions of chickenpox, an airborne disease spread easily through coughing or sneezing cause by virus, and also on ringworm.

In Southeast Asia, the flowers are rubbed on the dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin or rash, as an allergic reaction caused by lacquer, which is derived from Rhus verniciflua (Toxicodendron vernicifluum), also known as Chinese lacquer tree.

Starfruit roots combines with sugar are considered to be an antidote for poison. Hydrocyanic acid, or hydrogen cyanide, a highly valuable precursor to many chemical compounds, has been detected in the leaves, stems and roots.

A decoction of the crushed starfruit seeds acts as a galactagogue, substance that promotes lactation in humans and other animals, which is mildly intoxicating. The powdered starfruit seeds also serve as a sedative in cases of asthma and colic.


Phytochemical and Pharmacological Profile of Averrhoa carambola Linn: An Overview.
Gheewala Payal, Kalaria Pankti, Chakraborty Manodeep, and Kamath Jagadish.

Carambola faz mal para diabéticos?

Intoxication by star fruit (Averrhoa carambola) in six dialysis patients? (Preliminary report).
Neto MM, et al.
Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1998

Julia F. Morton (1987)


  1. I like Starfruit with salt actually it's indeed very good for health.

    1. Just like my wife but I prefer without using salt


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