Imported herbal remedies found to contain lead and other nasties

Ayurvedic herbal supplements imported from South Asia may contain lead, mercury, and arsenic, sometimes at levels high enough to cause serious health problems, including vomiting, convulsions, and seizures. A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 20 percent of the remedies purchased in the U.S. and tested contained unsafe levels of heavy metals. Currently the supplements are not strictly monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; the study’s authors called for sharply increased quality control. No one’s quite sure where the heavy metals are coming from — the preparation of the traditional remedies is shrouded in secrecy — but it’s widely suspected that they are added deliberately, without the controls that would ensure safety. U.S. manufacturers hastened to point out that domestically produced herbal remedies were not tested for the study.