US finds lead poisoning from Ayurvedic medicines

August 23, 2012

US health researchers said Thursday that they have documented lead poisoning risks among pregnant women who took Ayurvedic medicine and issued a new warning on the safety of traditional pills.

New York City probed six cases since last year of women—all but one born in India—found to be at high risk of lead poisoning due to Ayurvedic medicine, the US said.

Ayurveda, or long-life science, is a system of developed over thousands of years in India.

The pills—none made in the United States—are occasionally contaminated during manufacturing but some are "rasa shastra," the Indian practice of intentionally adding metals, minerals or gems to medicine.

The medicines are advertised as helping with pregnancy and at least one boasted that it would boost the chances of having a boy instead of a girl, said the report by the US government health organization.

While the six women have not shown symptoms, authorities found them to be at high risk of lead poisoning, which can damage the brain, kidneys and nervous and reproductive systems.

"Pregnant women present a unique concern, because lead exposure can adversely affect the health of both mother and child. Fetal lead exposure increases the risks for , developmental delay, reduced intelligence and behavioral problems," it said.

The products contained up to 2.4 percent lead and some also contained mercury and arsenic, which are also considered dangerous for consumption.

The warned in 2008 to use caution when taking Ayurvedic medicines—especially those sold over the Internet—as they are generally not approved by regulators.

The researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that should ask patients about their use of foreign-made medicine and consider administering tests for metal exposure.

"The cases of lead poisoning among the six pregnant women underscore the importance of risk assessment for lead exposure and blood lead testing in at-risk populations," the report said.

Explore further: Prenatal remediation strategy significantly reduces lead poisoning in children

Related Stories

Prenatal remediation strategy significantly reduces lead poisoning in children

March 2, 2012
An initiative in St. Louis targeted the homes of pregnant women to receive inspection and remediation of lead hazards before the birth of a child. According to a study just published in the American Journal of Obstetrics ...

New health issues tied to low-level lead exposure

July 17, 2012
Despite dramatic progress in reducing Americans' exposure to lead over the past 25 years, a growing body of research finds that children and adults still face health risks from even very low levels of the toxic metal in their ...

Recommended for you

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

Study shows cigarette makers shifted stance on nicotine patches, gum

August 17, 2017
The use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers or nasal sprays—together called "nicotine replacement therapy," or NRT—came into play in 1984 as prescription medicine, which when combined with counseling, helped ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

theskepticalpsychic
5 / 5 (1) Aug 24, 2012
Indisputably true. But it's funny how the alarm is always raised about "natural" remedies and vitamins being "dangerous", but pharmaceutical companies are permitted to put poorly tested medicines on the market, and they are only removed when they have killed enough people to make them a cost-overrun hazard.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.