European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

, Volume 57, Issue 12, pp 891–896 | Cite as

Heavy metals in traditional Indian remedies

  • E. Ernst
Pharmacoepidemiology and Prescription


The growing popularity of traditional Indian remedies necessitates a critical evaluation of risks associated with their use. This systematic review aims at summarising all available data relating to the heavy metal content in such remedies. Computerised literature searches were carried out to identify all articles with original data on this subject. Fifteen case reports and six case series were found. Their collective results suggest that heavy metals, particularly lead, have been a regular constituent of traditional Indian remedies. This has repeatedly caused serious harm to patients taking such remedies. The incidence of heavy metal contamination is not known, but one study shows that 64% of samples collected in India contained significant amounts of lead (64% mercury, 41% arsenic and 9% cadmium). These findings should alert us to the possibility of heavy metal content in traditional Indian remedies and motivate us to consider means of protecting consumers from such risks.

Complementary and alternative medicine Ayurveda Indian remedies 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Ernst
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NTUK

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