Safety Concerns About Ayurvedic Herbal Medicines

Ayurveda_HerbsThere have been many concerns raised over the years relating to the potential toxicity of Ayurvedic medicines. Herbal formulas and preparations are regulated in the U.S. as dietary supplements, which means that the safety requirements are not as high as they are for conventional pharmaceutical medicines. In 2004 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDP) reported 12 cases of lead poisoning believed to be linked to Ayurvedic medicines. In the same year, a review of Ayurvedic herbal remedies showed that a significant number had potentially harmful levels of mercury, arsenic and lead.2

According to a 2008 CDP report, traditional preparation of Ayurvedic formulations involves a purification process of multiple cooling and eating cycles that may be missing in some modern manufacturing processes. Formulations may also be contaminated with heavy metals due to poor quality control.4 Quality will thus vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some herbs used in Ayurveda can be purchased from manufacturers who are certified as having good manufacturing practices (GMP).

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