WHO Drug Information Vol. 19, No. 3, 2005
(2005; 72 pages) View the PDF document
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Open this folder and view contentsPersonal Perspectives
Open this folder and view contentsSafety and Efficacy Issues
Close this folderHerbal Medicines
View the documentMonograph for cultivation of herbal antimalarial: Artemisia annua
View the documentAyurvedic medicines and heavy metals
View the documentNational policy on regulation of herbal medicines
View the documentRegulatory guidelines for complementary medicines
Open this folder and view contentsRegulatory Action and News
Open this folder and view contentsEssential Medicines
Open this folder and view contentsAccess to Medicines
Open this folder and view contentsThe International Pharmacopoeia
View the documentRecommended International Nonproprietary Names: List 54
 

Ayurvedic medicines and heavy metals

Canada - Health Canada is warning consumers not to use certain Ayurvedic medicinal products because they contain high levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and/or arsenic. Health Canada is taking action to remove these products from the market and to prevent further importation into Canada.

Ayurvedic medicinal products are used in traditional Indian healing and are often imported from India. According to the principles of Ayurvedic medicine, heavy metals may be used because of their reputed therapeutic properties. However, improper manufacturing processes may result in dangerously high levels of heavy metals remaining in the final product.

Heavy metals pose a particular health risk because they may accumulate in vital organs. Children are most susceptible to the toxic effects of heavy metal poisoning. For example, arsenic poisoning can cause nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle cramps, heart abnormalities, liver damage, anaemia and reduced motor nerve function. Lead poisoning can cause weight loss, insomnia, dizziness, swelling of the brain and paralysis. Mercury poisoning can cause tremors, insomnia, memory loss, slowed sensory and motor nerve function, and reduced mental function.

The following is a list of the unapproved Ayurvedic medicinal products found on the Canadian market thus far, which have been analysed and found to contain high levels of lead, mercury and/or arsenic:

• Karela tablets, produced by Shriji Herbal Products, India

• Karela capsules, produced by Himalaya Drug Co, India

• Karela capsules, produced by Charantia, UK (specifically batch #12011)

• Maha Sudarshan Churna powder, produced by Zandu Pharmaceuticals, Mumbai, India

• Maha Sudarshan Churna powder, D & K Pharmacy, Bhavnagar, India

• Maha Sudarshan Churna powder, produced by Chhatrisha, Lalpur, India

• Maha Sudarshan Churna powder, produced by Dabur India Ltd, New Delhi, India

• SAFI liquid, produced by Hamdard-WAKF-Pakistan

• SAFI liquid, produced by Hamdard-WAKF-India

• Yograj Guggul tablets, produced by Zandu Pharmaceuticals, Mumbai, India

• Sudarshan tablets, produced by Zandu Pharmaceuticals, Mumbai, India

• Shilajit capsules, produced by Dabur India Ltd, New Delhi, India


As a precaution, Health Canada advises Canadians not to use any other Karela, Safi, Maha Sudarshan Churna, Yograj Guggul, Sudarshan or Shilajit products unless they have the required market authorization.

Reference: Press release 2005-80, Health Canada warns consumers not to use certain Ayurvedic medicinal products. 14 July 2005.

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