Presence of heavy metals in Ayurvedic products is one of the major concerns in the western world. There are two reasons how heavy metals might be found in Ayurvedic products.
1. Use of heavy metal ingredients – Some of the Ayurvedic products do have heavy metal ingredients (HMI) in very minimal quantities. They are subjected to purification and calcination procedure, before they are used in Ayurvedic medicines. Usually used HMI is Mercury.
2. Use of low quality herbs, contaminated with mud particles, which carry certain heavy metals like lead, arsenic etc.
Prescription and sale of Ayurvedic medicine with heavy metal ingredients (HMI) within India is legal. Because, after purification and calcination procedure, the product gains immense medicinal values and can be used safely in prescribed limits up to a prescribed time period.
Many Ayurvedic medicines such as Chandraprabha vati, Arogya Vardhini Vati etc contain heavy metal ingredients (HMI), but, when used in limited quantity, for a limited period of time, under medical supervision, they are very safe and effective.
In western countries, all herbal products including Ayurvedic medicines are categorized under dietary supplements. And they have set the allowed level of heavy metal contamination in herbal products, on par with food.
Considering this fact, the Government of India has set a rule for export of Ayurvedic medicines, that the heavy metal limit should not exceed WHO standards. All the products that are exported from India are checked at the customs for heavy metal reports.
Any Ayurvedic product with heavy metal ingredients will have excess of heavy metals than the allowed limits. For this reason, it is a common sense that no Ayurvedic Pharmacies should be exporting any product with HMI outside India.
But still some companies do that mistake and get caught and ruin the credibility of Ayurveda. Example.
Apart from export, Ayurvedic products with HMI reach foreign customers by online sales of medicines. There should be a regulation that such sale of Ayurvedic products with HMI can be done only with the prescription of an Ayurvedic doctor. That way, such an online sale can be legalized.
How to know if a product contains heavy metal ingredients or not?
Go to ayurmedinfo.com, type the name of the product and in the details, search for heavy metal information.
Can you ask the doctor not to prescribe any HMI?
That will be a bit rude. But a sensitive doctor should be able to understand your concern.
Are products with HMI safe to take during pregnancy and lactation?
As a general rule, it is best to avoid products with HMI during pregnancy, lactation and in children below 7 years of age.
Can products with HMI be taken for a long period of time?
It can be taken for a long period of time, only if the doctor decides so. Generally, any product with HMI should not be taken for more than two months. This is a subjective opinion.