Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High Levels Of Toxic Metals Found In Herbal Medicine Products Sold Online

Date:
August 27, 2008
Source:
Boston University
Summary:
One fifth of both US-manufactured and Indian-manufactured Ayurvedic medicines purchased via the Internet contain lead, mercury or arsenic.

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that one fifth of both U.S.-manufactured and Indian-manufactured Ayurvedic medicines purchased via the Internet contain lead, mercury or arsenic.

Ayurveda is a form of medicine that originated in India more than 2,000 years ago and relies heavily on herbal products. In India, an estimated 80 percent of the population practices Ayurveda. In the United States, Ayurvedic remedies have increased in popularity and are available from South Asian markets, health food stores, and on the Internet. Ayurvedic medicines are divided into two major types: herbal only and rasa shastra. Rasa shastra is an ancient practice of deliberately combining herbs with metals, minerals and gems. Ayurvedic experts in India believe that if Rasa Shastra medicines made with metals such as lead and mercury are properly prepared and administered, they will be safe and therapeutic.

Using an Internet search, the researchers identified 25 Web sites featuring 673 Ayurvedic medicines. They randomly selected and purchased 193 products made by 37 different manufacturers for analyses. Overall, 20.7 percent of Ayurvedic medicines contained detectable lead, mercury and/or arsenic. U.S. and Indian manufactured products were equally likely to contain toxic metals. Rasa shastra compared with non-rasa shastra medicines were more than twice as likely to contain metals and had higher concentrations of lead and mercury. Among products containing metals, 95 percent were sold by U.S. Web sites and 75 percent claimed Good Manufacturing Practices or testing for heavy metals. All metal-containing products exceeded one or more standards for acceptable daily intake of toxic metals.

"This study highlights the need for Congress to revisit the way dietary supplements are regulated in the U.S.," said lead author Robert Saper, MD, MPH, Director of Integrative Medicine in the Family Medicine Department at BUSM. Saper first published on this topic in December, 2004 (JAMA). In that study he and his colleagues found 20% of Ayurvedic medicines produced in South Asia only and available in Boston area stores contained potentially harmful levels of lead, mercury, and/or arsenic. "Our first priority must be the safety of the public. Herbs and supplements with high levels of lead, mercury, and arsenic should not be available for sale on the Internet or elsewhere," he said.

Saper adds, "We suggest strictly enforced, government mandated daily dose limits for toxic metals in all dietary supplements and requirements that all manufacturers demonstrate compliance through independent third-party testing."

"The medicines which are supposed to cure sickness should not promote another illness due to the presence of toxic materials such as lead," said co-author Venkatesh Thuppil, PhD, Director of the National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India, as well as a Professor at St. John's Medical College in India.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Saper et al. Lead, Mercury, and Arsenic in US- and Indian-Manufactured Ayurvedic Medicines Sold via the Internet. JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2008; 300 (8): 915 DOI: 10.1001/jama.300.8.915

Cite This Page:

Boston University. "High Levels Of Toxic Metals Found In Herbal Medicine Products Sold Online." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080826190850.htm>.
Boston University. (2008, August 27). High Levels Of Toxic Metals Found In Herbal Medicine Products Sold Online. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080826190850.htm
Boston University. "High Levels Of Toxic Metals Found In Herbal Medicine Products Sold Online." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080826190850.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins