Canada warns against usage of Ayurvedic products

By agencies   |   Friday, 29 July 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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OTTAWA:Canada's health watchdog has warned against use of certain Ayurvedic medicinal products due to the reportedly high content of metals like lead and arsenic and plans to remove these products from the market and ban imports.

A list of unapproved Ayurvedic medicinal products that contain high levels of lead, mercury and/or arsenic has been released and Canadians have been asked to use only those products that have been authorised for sale by Health Canada, the government regulatory body.

According to Health Canada, some Ayurvedic products have high levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic that could pose health risks and accumulation of toxins in vital organs, particularly among children.

"Ayurvedic medicinal products are used in traditional Indian healing and are often imported from India. According to the principles of Ayurvedic medicine, heavy metals may be used because of their reputed therapeutic properties. However, improper manufacturing processes may result in dangerously high levels of heavy metals remaining in the final product," a health advisory said.

Health Canada warned consumers against using certain Ayurvedic medicinal products including those manufactured and distributed by Indian companies such as Zandu Pharmaceuticals and Dabur India.

It has advised consumers not to use any Karela, Safi, Maha Sudarshan Churna, Yograj Guggul, Sudarshan or Shilajit products unless they have the required market authorization.

Use of unapproved products could cause nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle cramps, heart abnormalities, liver damage, anaemia and reduced motor nerve function, said the health advisory issued July 14.

Lead poisoning could also cause weight loss, insomnia, dizziness, swelling of the brain and paralysis while mercury poisoning causes tremors, insomnia, memory loss, slowed sensory and motor nerve function, and reduced mental function.

The warning follows a Health Canada advisory issued in March after reviewing a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found potentially harmful levels of lead, mercury and arsenic in 14 commercially available Ayurvedic medicinal products sold in the Boston area, the advisory stated.

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