Toxic minerals were studied in 121 natural health products (NHP) and 49 prescription pharmaceuticals (including Ayurvedic remedies, Chinese medicines, multi-vitamins and marine products). Additionally, prenatal products were studied thoroughly.
Ayurvedic medicines are from India and have a 5000 year history of use. Some products have been found to contain lead, mercury and arsenic above accepted limits. Cases have even been documented of lead toxicity from Ayurvedic treatment. Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years, and some Chinese products have been found to be contaminated with lead, copper, arsenic, cadmium, and thallium.
The authors found abnormal levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and aluminum in NHPs. Plant products absorb toxic elements from the soil, and animal products accumulate toxins in the bone and shells (shellfish had the highest levels of lead). Furthermore, lead and cadmium remain in the body for a long time because they are stored in body tissues.
In general, around the world there is no regulation of safety for NHPs in regard to toxic elements. However, “Guidelines for Good Manufacturing Processes” or GMP certification are used in the United States for NHP. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed guidelines for better safety of NHPs.
Testing was done of products collected around Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and toxic elements were found in NHPs and in pharmaceuticals. Toxic elements which exceeded accepted limits were found in less than 10% of NHPs, but no toxic levels exceeded the accepted limits among the pharmaceuticals. Almost all pharmaceuticals contained low levels of toxic elements. Not all batches of the same NHP contain the same degree of contamination, although products from China had higher levels of mercury, arsenic and aluminum.
CONCLUSION: Better monitoring of our natural health products for toxic elements is needed in view of the wide use of such health products and the present high level of contamination.
NOTE: We live in a polluted world. It is surprising that pharmaceuticals, which are primarily synthetic, have any heavy metal contamination and still are of pharmaceutical grade. It is not surprising that plants which grow and get their nutrients from soil could be contaminated by our present environment. The problem of contamination can be partly avoided by using organic products, but even organic products have some contamination. We should buy the best products available and learn about companies we buy from.
The current accepted limits of toxicity should be viewed with some skepticism. There is evidence that older “upper limits of safety” are inadequate to protect us. Some researchers are now saying there is no safe level of exposure to lead for children, as any exposure may lead to cognitive damage.
Summary #919. nutrientmedicine