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Ayurvedic medicine contains heavy metals

A report in JAMA (2008;359:895-905) says that one in five Ayurvedic medicines tested contained lead, arsenic, or mercury, sometimes in combination. The daily intake of these metals for patients taking the recommended doses would be above those regarded as safe. It made no difference whether the medicines were manufactured in Asia or the USA or whether the manufacturers claimed to have used good manufacturing processes.

Some of the medicines were of a type (rasa shastra) in which herbs are combined with metals, minerals, and gems; 40% of these contained toxic metals, even when they were described as being herbal only.

I was particularly interested to see this because, as I describe in my book Totality Beliefs and the Religious Imagination, the use of Ayurvedic medicines by meditators was (and as far as I know still is) advocated by the TM organisation. Two doctors fell foul of the GMC for using these medicines with inadequate knowledge of what they contained.

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