Want some lead with your herbs?

A Boston University researcher has found that about 20% of a sampling of traditional Indian remedies sold in the United States had toxic levels of lead, mercury, or arsenic. In a study published this month in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, about 200 products made by 37 different manufacturers representative of Ayurvedic Medicine were analyzed. It’s especially alarming because these are products meant to be taken daily to improve overall health. Almost all of the contaminated specimens were made here in the USA.

A daily dose of mercury can’t be good.

The FDA is specifically forbidden from regulating “herbs and supplements.” These products might contain what it says on the label, or might not; they might be contaminated with heavy metals or powerful, non-regulated drugs, or they might just contain essentially nothing at all. Their labels can make just about any sort of health-related claim without fear of regulatory reprisals, and without fear that anyone could actually expect some kind of proof that the product does what it says. No safety data is collected or expected.

Shopping in the “supplement” aisle of a big chain drug store or health food store is entirely a guessing game. Most of the products are merely a waste of money, but at least some of them are far, far worse. Beware.

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