Toxic Metals in Ayurvedic Products

September 8th, 2008 | Sources: JAMA

People who purchase Ayurvedic medicines online may want to consider buying something else.

That’s because Boston University scientists tested 200 Ayurvedic products purchased over the Internet, and found that 20% of them contained detectable levels of arsenic, lead or mercury. Sometimes the levels of these metals were dangerously high.

Ayurveda is an herbal-based health practice that began 2,000 years ago in India. Its origins are linked to the legendary Dharvarhari (pictured) who received insights directly from Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. More than 80% of Indians practice Ayurveda right now, and the practice has gained popularity in the US.

Ayurvedic medicines are categorized into herbal only and Rasa Shastra by the methods used to prepare them. To create Rasa Shastra medicines, practitioners deliberately add metals, gems and minerals to the herbs.

The BU investigators found that samples from both categories of Ayurvedic medicines contained toxic metals, but the Rasa Shastra samples were twice as likely to contain them, and they contained higher levels of the metals.

Rasa Shastra practitioners believe their medicines are safe if prepared properly. The BU researchers think otherwise. They want regulators to establish “safe levels” of these toxic metals in herbal supplements and require that manufacturers get their products tested before they are released to market.


 

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