Australian Health Authorities Seized Traditional Indian Medicines Due To Fear of Lead Poisoning

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Health workers take blood samples for Ebola virus testing at a screening tent in the local government hospital in Kenema
Health workers take blood samples for Ebola virus testing at a screening tent in the local government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, June 30, 2014. Reuters

Indian grocery stores in Sydney were raided by Australian health authorities who seized Ayurvedic medicines, Indian traditional medicines, in a fear that they could cause lead poisoning. New South Wales Health have issued a warning to the public stating that the consumption of these traditional medicines, usually not prescribed by doctors could prove to be harmful. 

Ayurvedic medicines contain a variety of treatments, that vary from massages to herbal remedies. The traditional Indian herbal remedies may contain ground up gemstones, pearls and heavy metals and are complex. The metals are added as Ayurvedic practitioners believe that these metals add to the healing process.

Australia requires medicine that are sold by retailers to be checked for levels of toxic substances like heavy metal and toxic herbs, unlike in the United States and several other countries.

Australian Associated Press reported that the warning came after a woman who was on Ayurvedic medications seemed to have high levels of lead in her blood. Health officials have said that three grocery stores in Campsie were raided by pharmaceutical inspectors who seized thirty bottles of the Ayurvedic medications on July 26.

A health official, Dr. Leena Gupta, who is the Director of Public Health for Sydney, said that the New South Wales Health has warned the public about the risks that the traditional medicines carries. These medicines are usually sourced in from overseas or from local Indian grocery stores. New South Wales Health tested samples of the medicines obtained from Sydney-based retailers and also from overseas which showed a heavy metal contamination, apart from which arsenic(Ar), cadmium(Cd), lead(Pb) and mercury(Hg) were also found. The officials have advised those in possession of these medicines to discard them.

Dr. Gupta has said that the Therapeutic Goods Administration have been informed of the investigations by NSW Health. She explained that if products were not approved by Therapeutic Goods Administration, the effectiveness, safety and quality of the medications had to be made aware to the consumers of these medications. In particular, the consumers should be cautious about the products purchased from the internet and also overseas.

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