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Get the Lead Out

Toxic heavy metal contamination of Ayurvedic dietary supplements is in most cases intentional.

January 23, 2012 |
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Transcript

How do toxic heavy metals get into ayurvedic medicines in the first place? In most cases, high levels of metals in Ayurvedic traditional preparations result from intentional incorporation of certain metallic preparations like lead oxide, mercury sulfide, arsenic trioxide. Not to worry, though. The heavy metals are claimed to be  detoxified by, for example, heating and cooling the herbal mixtures in cow's urine.

This is not just an India issue. Traditional medicines from around the world incorporate these poisons. In the Middle East, "saoott" is used as a teething powder  for infants. It's 51% lead. One of a number of black lead-containig substances used as teething powder.

Bokhoor is a Middle Eastern practice of burning lead sulphides to produce pleasant fumes to calm infants. They'll be calm all right.

Traditional Latin American medicines include "azarcon" and "greta" -- almost pure lead, used to treat constipation.

In traditional Chinese herbal medicine, mercury in considered to have a tranquilizing and (if you can believe it) detoxifying effect.

But wait a second. Haven't these remedies been used for centuries? Sure, but that doesn't mean they're safe. In the West, let's not forget that blood letting was among the most common medical practices performed by doctors for almost 2,000 years.

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.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

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 and don't miss Friday's video Some Ayurveduc medicine worse than lead paint exposure. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Mercury Testing Recommended Before Pregnancy and  Lead Poisoning Risk From Venison

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    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 and don’t miss Friday’s video Some Ayurveduc medicine worse than lead paint exposure. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/capebreton/ CapeBreton

    Good info.

    In the West, mercury was used along with blood letting for a long time. Right into the 1900s mercury was used for syphillis treatment, among other things.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/joe703631/ joe703631

    Do you continue to use amla in your smoothies?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      Every day! Please see my response to yummy below.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/yummy/ yummy

    Dr. G….please let us know if amla is safe to use..or not…as it’s become very popular at the Indian spices sites…many of them have sold out the last time I checked. You have many followers who depend on your advice for substances providing extra nutritional benefits. We don’t want to be misguided.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      Sorry to keep everyone in suspense! For those that don’t have volume 7 and just get the videos day-by-day I’m sorry for the frustration (I try to keep the videos down to a user-friendly few minutes). The *spoiler alert* happy ending is that there has not been any heavy metal contamination found in straight indian gooseberry powder (amla).

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/yummy/ yummy

        Thanks, Dr. G, for the quick response…you’ve out-done yourself with Vol 7…I just follow the day-by-day videos and always look forward to the next. Thanks for posting the “spoiler alert” happy ending and for keeping us all informed on the latest and greatest.

        • Guest

          Fruits
          VH
          Gooseberries,
          raw, green
          27.00
          3.10
          1/2 cup
          75.00
          20.25
          2.33
          11
          VP Newsletter,
          Addendum Fall 2012

  • Sue

    I was researching possible Clickbank products to act as an affiliate for on a website I will be launching in the next few months, related to health (the site will be about growing your own organic food and recovering from illness). I looked at the H Miracle product as that seemed to be successful and was advertised as being a safe natural cure, not wanting to waste money buying the product until I knew what was involved, I scoured the internet for clues as to what the treatment entailed. I found snapshots of the product that referred to Chinese medicine as being one of the components. More investigation, turned up the key part of the treatment as being the Chinese herb Fargelin (disclaimer here – I haven’t downloaded the H Miracle myself – this is based on what others have said, who have read the product). Researching Fargelin, I found that it has been known to contain extremely high levels of Arsenic. I am shocked that such dangerous substances can be sold freely and passed off as being safe and natural, without regulation just because they are derived from plants. Heroin and Cocaine are derived from plants – it doesn’t make them safe.

  • New Subscriber

    The Chinese herb He Shou Wu (aka: Ho Shou Wu or Foti) is supposed to stop hair loss and graying of hair. Is this herb known to contain toxins. I am looking at two supplement products: Nature’s Element’s He Shou Wu; and Hairomega DHT which are supposed to stop hair loss. Do you think either one or both are dangerous to take? Any evidence they work?

  • Guest

    You are a treasure troph sir!!! My hat’s off toya dn that’s saying a BUNCH!! Just found your 2001 speak in front of what sounded and looked like a class room. I can’t believ this site and your vids. UNbelievable. Yur a shooting start of savvy info and personality. I’m thrilled to have found ya. You only corroborate and enrish all I’ve learned in 48yrs scrambling/. Hats off and a bow. Aloha. Ruby