High levels of arsenic, lead and mercury found in Ayurvedic medications

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NEW YORK — New Yorkers have been advised by the Department of Health to avoid certain Ayurvedic medications that contain high levels of arsenic, lead and mercury.

Ayurvedic medications made in India are a form of holistic healing systems that have been used in the east for thousands of years, but one brand made by Shree Baidyanath has a heavy metal content that greatly exceeded acceptable limits,the agency said.

“Although not all Ayurvedic medications contain dangerous ingredients, lead and other heavy metals may be intentionally added to some of these medications for perceived therapeutic benefits,” said Bureau of Environmental Disease and Injury Prevention assistant commissioner Nancy Clark. “Ayurvedic medications are generally not tested for safety.”

According to the Department of Health, the limits for these metals in food additives are 3 parts per million (ppm) of arsenic, 2 ppm of lead, and 1 ppm of mercury. These products were found to have levels as high as 240 ppm of arsenic, 470 ppm of lead and 27,000 ppm of mercury.

People who regularly use products containing high levels of heavy metals are at an increased risk of harmful health effects, including damage to the brain, kidneys, and nervous and reproductive systems, the Department of Health said.

The commissioner ordered to cease sales of these products at neighborhood stores where they could be found.

The Department of Health advises all New Yorkers who use these products to stop using them immediately, and consult their doctors, as well as call 311 to report locations where these products are being sold.

For additional information and a full list of products visit the health department’s website.

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