Patent: How About Some Tequila with that Lime and Heart Attack?

patent for lime juice to prevent heart attackThe subject—heart attacks—is not funny, but U.S. Patent No. 6,457,474, issued October 1, 2002, and described as a method of alleviating chest pain, especially from angina pectoris, is amusing or at least interesting. What’s the amazing heart-attack fighting invention? Drinking lime juice.

But, wait, maybe I’m not being fair. Maybe I’m oversimplifying it. Let’s check out the official patent abstract and see:

A method of alleviating chest pain that stems from the heart, which method comprises: (a) noticing a pain in the chest; and shortly thereafter (b) taking an effective amount of lime juice into the body to alleviate the chest pain.

Nope. Guess not. It really is a patent on drinking lime juice. Here’s how the invention works:

In accordance with this invention, a person takes in lime juice after noticing the onset of the chest pain.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand it. It’s a very complex scientific procedure. But let’s at least clear up one other confusing point. What exactly is this secret ingredient? The patent explains:

“[L]ime juice” means lime juice or limeade or any combination that includes the juice of a lime ….

Pucker up because the inventor recommends “drinking at least a glass daily [of lime juice] in non-concentrate form” as a preventative measure.

Sound inconvenient? It’s not. In fact, one of the primary advantages of lime juice as a remedy for angina pectoris over nitroglycerin is that:

Since the juice is regularly stored in the refrigerator or freezer, it can be quickly located by the patient, particularly at nighttime where the refrigerator light plays a helpful role.

U.S. Patent No. 6,457,474, Oct. 1, 2002. Thanks to David Barman.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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