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December 16, 2004

Discovery of Heavy Metals in Ayurvedic Products Spurs Controversy

Topics: Health Issues

Daily News Central-Health, Dec 15.

As much as 20 percent of the Ayurvedic "herbal" medicines originating in India or Pakistan and sold in South Asian grocery stores in the Boston area contain "potentially harmful levels of lead, mercury and/or arsenic," according to a report slated for publication in the December 15, 2004, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

In a statement commenting on the forthcoming JAMA article, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) notes that the authors fail to mention that many of the products reported on contain non-herbal ingredients, such as sulfide of mercury -- "which no doubt accounts for the high levels of heavy metals detected in these imported products."

Many Traditional Formulas Contain Metals

One product reportedly was found to contain more than 10 percent mercury and four others exceeded one percent of total heavy metals.

Many traditional Ayurvedic formulas that are sold in India contain metallic ingredients for purported health benefits, says AHPA, and those with high levels generally are used under practitioner supervision.

The U.S. does not permit use of such ingredients in dietary supplements, however. The presence of lead, mercury and arsenic at levels that cause dietary supplements or foods to be adulterated are unlawful under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and have been unlawful under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act since 1938 (and even under the Pure Food and Drug Act since 1906), according to AHPA.

No Change in Law Required

"Oddly, the JAMA article both correctly notes that 'regulations governing dietary supplements ... should also be applied to dietary supplements imported into the United States,' and, in the very next sentence, calls for 'reform of DSHEA' to require mandatory testing of all imported dietary supplements for toxic heavy metals," says AHPA's statement.

"However," it continues, "U.S. law already makes it unlawful to import or sell products that are adulterated with high amounts of heavy metals. No change in the law is required, though manufacturers, importers and retailers need to assure that the products they manufacture, import, and sell are free of adulteration. AHPA encourages its members to test products for heavy metals."

CudoDaily News Central - Health....

Posted by Hyscience at December 16, 2004 5:53 PM

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