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TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Last updated on – Aug 8, 2023, 16:00 IST

​Woman experiences disturbing symptoms​

A 39-year-old woman in Canada, who has not been named, went to the Emergency department of a hospital three times in six weeks, Express UK reported. She was suffering from abdominal pain, constipation, nausea and vomiting.

On her third visit, she was admitted to the hospital for anemia and possible gastrointestinal bleeding.

​Ayurvedic pills responsible for symptoms​

Doctors were unable to identify what was wrong with her. It was during a follow-up visit weeks later, she reported having taken Ayurvedic pills daily for more than a year to help treat infertility.


​Lead found in her blood​

Her blood lead level was high at 55 µg/dL, compared with a normal level of less than 2 µg/dL, according to a report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). Her blood lead level was more than 27 times higher than normal.

​Treatment and recovery​

​Noncompliance with health regulations​

“Once the diagnosis of lead toxicity was made, the medical team contacted Public Health Ontario (PHO), which tested 17 different pill samples provided by the patient,” Dr Gitelman said.

“After testing revealed high levels of lead in most of the pills, PHO involved the local public health unit, Toronto Public Health, and Health Canada, as it regulates natural health products,” Dr Gitelman added.

An investigation of the Ayurvedic clinic resulted in the seizure of hundreds of lead-laced pills due to noncompliance with health regulations.

​Why is lead found in some Ayurvedic medicines?​

Dr Gitelman explained, “A recent systematic review of case reports on lead poisoning found traditional or herbal ­medications to be a common cause. Heavy metals are sometimes intentionally added for their perceived healing properties.”

In a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, samples of Ayurvedic formulations were analyzed for metals and metalloids following established US. Environmental Protection Agency methods.

Lead was found in 65% of 252 Ayurvedic medicine samples with mercury and arsenic found in 38 and 32% of samples, respectively. Almost half of samples containing mercury, 36% of samples containing lead and 39% of samples containing arsenic had concentrations of those metals per pill that exceeded, up to several thousand times, the recommended daily intake values for pharmaceutical impurities.