A study published in JAMA (August 2008), discussed that "one-fifth of both US-manufactured and Indian-manufactured Ayurvedic medicines purchased via the Internet contain detectable lead, mercury, or arsenic".
I wanted to share this information, as my friend just started going to an acupuncturist for her allergies, and was given traditional Chinese herbs (based on Ayurvedic medicine). She asked the practitioner what was in the concoction, and (due to the language barrier) just kept repeating, "It's 100% natural!". I told her that many things are "natural" and are harmful. There were no "ingredients" list or other identifying labels to its origin. I am not sure if the medicine she was given was the same as the above-reference JAMA study or not. She does not know if this practice made their own herbal medicine, or bought it off the internet.
Well, my friend went ahead and used the herbal medicine, and broke out in a rash all over her chest and arms. She had flu-like symptoms, was extremely fatigued. From my understanding, flu-like symptoms may indicate a heavy metal poisoning, but she would only know if she were tested for this specifically.
The JAMA article stated that "lead, mercury, and arsenic have been detected in a substantial proportion of Indian-manufactured traditional Ayurvedic medicines. Metals may be present due to the practice of rasa shastra (combining herbs with metals, minerals, and gems)."
Additionally, in Chemistry Central Journal (October 2008), heavy metals are frequently found in red and white wines in "relatively high levels" that originated from various countries. According to this article, the "safer countries" included 3 of the 15 studied: Italy, Brazil, and Argentina. This brings up an interesting point: does anyone know why alcohol does not contain nutrition labels, or even an ingredients list, like every-other food?
Is there anything we can do about this? I thought we just had to worry about mercury and other heavy metals in fish, and now it seems that we are hearing about more, and more food and herbal supplements that contain mercury or salmonella or other creepy substances. I don't believe in being an alarmist by any means, but am wondering how we can begin advocating for ourselves by having more federal regulations on food and drugs and supplements? Also, I am trying to learn more about CAM (complementary and alternative medicine), but have a difficult time trusting in various supplements and herbal remedies, since they are not regulated...it's scary (for me) to trust the manufacturer and know exactly what's in the bottle (or, less extreme, know if I'm paying a high price for the potency its claiming to be!).
What are your thoughts on any/all of this?
JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association)
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