A toxic combination

Yesterday it was reported that one-fifth of the ayurvedic medicines available online contain potentially dangerous metals. With many people now buying herbal remedies on the web, just how hazardous are they?

A mysterious, itchy rash appears on your skin. Where do you head for an explanation? In an age of instant gratification the answer is increasingly likely to be your computer keyboard, where you can find an instant (if unreliable) diagnosis and get a treatment delivered straight to your door. More than two million people in the UK are now thought to buy medications on the web; but in doing so, say experts, many are risking their health rather than finding a means to improve it.

Yesterday it was reported that researchers at Boston University school of medicine have found that one fifth of the Indian herbal medicines available online contain potentially toxic heavy metals, including lead, mercury and arsenic. Dr Robert Saper and his team found 25 websites through an internet search engine and randomly selected and purchased 193 products made by 37 different manufacturers. They then subjected them to laboratory analysis.

Their results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that medicines used in a branch of ayurveda called rasa shastra, used to treat serious illnesses, including paralysis, contained the highest levels of toxic metals, and that 20.7% of all products tested exceeded "one or more standards for acceptable daily metal intake".

Source - Guardian