Ayurvedic Drug Poisoning: Don't Buy Drugs Blindly in Search of Natural Cures

The ancient Indian practice of medicine, known as Ayurveda, has long been credited as a great alternative treatment for various health problems. It makes use of different kinds of natural herbs and medicinal plants that are said to not have side effects as associated with chemical drugs. Perhaps this is why, even for major diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart problems, people resort to Ayurvedic drugs, trusting them to be the better mode of treatment. Various research studies are also being carried out to incorporate Ayurvedic remedies with medical treatments in an attempt to treat diseases naturally. However, like they all say, when it comes to health, you shouldn’t blindly follow what you hear. In recent times, there have been various cases of Ayurvedic drug poisoning leading to serious health problems.

The drug poisoning is mainly attributed to heavy metal contamination such as lead, arsenic and mercury. In the method of making Ayurvedic medicines, heavy metals are commonly included into the herbal formulations to enhance potency and add in to the therapeutic properties. But traditionally, these metals are purified before being used in the drugs, as instructed in Rasa Shastras.

According to an earlier article written by Rob Gair from BC Centre for Disease Control in BCMJ, “Heavy metal toxicity following the use of Ayurvedic remedies is well documented in the literature. During the traditional preparation of bhasmas (Ayurvedic medicines), the metal is “purified-out” through multiple cooling and heating cycles and by addition of specific “mineral herbs.” In modern formulations, however, the concentration of heavy metals may be excessive because poor quality control allows for contamination, adulteration, or improper purification.”Boston University found that one fifth of Ayurvedic medicines sold online contained dangerous levels of toxins. Some had 100 to 10,000 times the recommended safety levels. This of course lead to speculations of the quality of Ayurvedic drugs sold worldwide, with Ayurveda experts cautioning everyone to not purchase drugs online without consulting a proper Ayurvedic practitioner.

In a recent incidence reported by The Times of India, a retired IAS officer from Allahabad who was on Ayurvedic diabetes medication was found critically ill with alarming levels of lead in his blood. He had severely lost weight, showed low haemoglobin levels and neurological weakness, among other problems. There have been many other cases with people complaining of nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, anaemia, loss of appetite, etc after consuming Ayurvedic drugs.

The ancient science of Ayurveda must not be subjected to poor quality control of mass production. It contains substantial answers to various health problems, which have been studied for centuries. There is also a branch of Ayurveda called Agada Tantra, which is referred to as the discipline of toxicology that delves into different types of poisoning (animal origin, plant origin and artificial poisons).