Ayurvedic Products and Heavy Metals

By Dr. Ajit

There is a growing concern in the West about the heavy metal content in Ayurvedic products and a perception that these products are not safe for consumption. While it is true that some specific Ayurvedic preparations contain heavy metals, it is misleading to suggest that all Ayurvedic products are therefore unsafe.

Ayurveda, like Western Medicine produces pharmaceutical products with varying degrees of potency. In the West, many preparations that contain paracetamol can be freely purchased from supermarket shelves as they simple preparations that provide low doses of their active ingredient. Medications with more complex chemical formulations and containing higher doses are only available on prescription.

This implies that some medication can only be prescribed by qualified practioners as only they have the experience and knowledge to know the prescription dose, the length of time that the medication needs to be taken and any potential side effects from prolonged usage of the medicine.

In the same way Ayurveda has a vast range of products at its disposal, the majority of which are simple herbal preparations that provide low doses of their active ingredients. However certain products do contain powdered stones, gems and heavy metals but these should only be taken under the supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic doctor who understands the correct dosage.

Unfortunately, such Ayurvedic medicines can be purchased easily over the Internet. When people buy and use these products without appropriate supervision and the inevitable side effects occur, they tend to blame the product rather than the supplier and question the efficacy of Ayurveda as a health care system. 

I believe it is the responsibility of everyone who wishes to follow Ayurveda for their own health and welfare that they should ask the following questions before purchasing any Ayurvedic products: 

Unfortunately, many people selling Ayurvedic products in the West have no knowledge of Ayurvedic Herbology & Pharmacology and are unable to determine the therapeutic value of Ayurvedic products. They are not able to identify fresh, good quality herbs from those that are stale and adulterated. Instead, they determine the value of the product or herb based on price.

In a further effort to cut costs, some suppliers buy Ayurvedic products manufactured for domestic consumption in India, rather than those manufactured for specifically for the export market. These export grade products undergo rigorous testing to satisfy the requirements of the international market and the additional cost of this stringent quality control is incorporated into the price.

For example, the levels of heavy metals permissible in products for sale in the domestic market in India are much higher than those of many Western countries. When Ayurvedic products are purchased in the domestic market in India and than offered for re-sale in the West, the level of heavy metals in the product is noticed by the purchaser who then feels Ayurvedic medicine is unsafe which causes irreparable damage to the reputation of Ayurveda.

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