The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Lead poisoning and ayurvedic medicines

    The New York Times Magazine published a travelogue by a San Francisco woman who spent time In India as an “ayurveda tourist.” The goal of the trip was to “immerse [herself] in ayurveda, the 3,500-year-old herb-based healing tradition that still flourishes in the daily life of India.”

    As might be expected of a San Franciscan writing in NYT, she managed to insert a dig at Dick Cheney, but not once in 2900 words mentions the problem of lead poisoning associated with ayurvedic medicines.

    Guess you have to pick your poison. But if she can’t do it, I will.
    In the past year, there were 10 reports of lead intoxication with ayurvedic medication.

    • A 46-year-old man with multiple sclerosis in Amsterdam
    • Eight cases in or near the Auckland region of New Zealand
    • A 32-year-old man in France repeatedly hospitalized for abdominal pain, constipation, weight loss, anemia, and mild elevation of liver enzyme levels

    All cases had high blood levels of lead.

    The worldwide prevalence lead toxicity due to ayurvedic medicines isn’t know. However, one study showed that 64% of samples collected in India contained significant amounts of lead.

    Although the majority of lead poisoning in adults is due to occupational exposure, traditional or folk medications can cause lead poisoning. For more information, Dr. Annapoorna Chirra from UCLA has published an excellent review that covers the signs and symptoms of lead poisoning.

    Illustration: Palmland Tours, Kerala

    8/27/06 16:34 JR

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