Health Ministry Rejects Jama (USA), august 27, 2008 Report on ‘Heavy Metals in Ayurvedic Medicines’

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Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) has in a press release issued on 2.9.2008 has stated that the reports regarding Heavy Metals in Ayurvedic herbal medicinal products originating from South Asia and available in Boston South Asian grocery stores containing potentially harmful levels of lead, mercury and/or arsenic are flawed and disclose a strong bias against Ayurvedic medicines. The above article by Doctor Robert B. Saper of Department of Family Medicine, Boston Medical Centre and others published in the Journal of American Medical Association, August 27, 2008 is a rehash of his earlier article published in JAMA, December 15, 2004.

In Table 3 of his August 27, 2008 article Dr. Robert B. Saper et al have included even those herbal medicines in which Lead, Mercury, Arsenic is below the WHO permissible limits which discloses the bias of Dr. Saper and his team against Ayurveda medicines. The Department also mentioned a study of 600 medicinal plants samples collected by Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha in association with ITRC (CSIR) Lucknow Sriram Institute of Industrial Toxicology, New Delhi and Shastra University, Thanjavur, which disclosed that these Indian medicinal plants did not have Lead, Mercury, Arsenic above WHO permissible limits.

It needs to be emphasized that as per the directions issued by Department of AYUSH, herbo-metallic compounds are not being officially exported because of heavy metal concerns and only purely herbal Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha medicines are being exported from India with effect from 1st January 2006 after certification of heavy metals below the permissible limit by the manufacturing unit. Testing of heavy metals and other contamination in purely herbal Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani products is already a part of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) notified by the Department of AYUSH in 2003.

A project for Physico chemical characterization and toxicity studies of 8 widely used Bhasmas (Rasa Aushadhies) in CSIR laboratories found them to be non-toxic after 28 days toxicity studies. 90 days toxicity studies are underway. Supplementary Good Manufacturing Practices for Rasa Aushadhies have also been prepared of which draft publication has been done.

Department of AYUSH asserted that issues raised by Dr. Saper, howsoever flawed, will be responded to by Indian Scientists on the basis of their research on Ayurveda herbal and herbo-metallic medicines through research publications in due course.

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Sharmaji is deeply involved with Ayurveda since 15 years. His interest and passion led him to launch and about a decade ago. Most of the Ayurveda news and articles on this site are approved or published by him.

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