Both U.S.-made and imported Ayurvedic dietary supplements have high contamination rates of toxic metals such as mercury, though only a small fraction of the levels found in canned tuna.
If ayurvedic herbal preparations are often contaminated with toxic metals, should we stay away from amla and triphala, two of the three most antioxidant-packed foods in the world? Are we going to be forced to go back to cloves, number four down the list?
In the Boston study both amla and triphala were repeatedly tested -- different samples, different brands -- and not a single one had any detectable lead, mercury, arsenic, or cadmium . Good news, and neither had any detectable pesticides, either. But maybe that's just Boston. If you want to do a broad survey of the global market, you need to start shopping on the Internet.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "Lead, Mercury, and Arsenic in ... Ayurvedic Medicines Sold via the Internet." [JAMA vol. 300 no. 8] Once again, one fifth of the medicines: contaminated.
When the Boston study came out, there were calls for mandatory testing of all imported dietary supplements for toxic heavy metals. But this study found that the prevalence of metals in US-manufactured ayurvedic medicine was the same, if not higher, than those imported from India. They found lead levels violating safety limits in products with names like "Worry Free", a pediatric preparation. Mercury in products like "Breath of Life". And arsenic exceeding EPA limits in triphala. Mercury in triphala and lead in triphala.
OK, I guess we can scratch that off the list. That's why my smoothies have amla, not triphala. Just to put things in perspective, though, Consumer Reports recently re-measured mercury levels in canned tuna and while a serving of triphala may have 46 micrograms of mercury, the average can of white tuna has 1,345. But as far as I'm concerned, practically any mercury is too much mercury.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is transcript contributed by Bruce A. Hamilton.
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Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check back for the other videos on Ayurvedic medicine. Don't miss Friday's video Some Ayurveduc medicine worse than lead paint exposure or Monday's video Get the lead out. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!