Health knowledge and news provided by doctors.

Ayurvedic Medicine Poisons 6 Pregnant Mothers in NY: Avoid This List of Meds!

Tim Boyer's picture

Women seeking to have a healthy pregnancy often turn to supplements that they personally believe will promote fertility and are beneficial toward the growth of a developing fetus. In many cases, the supplements used are ones advised by well-meaning family members or foreign physicians who believe in the value of using Ayurvedic medicines not only to promote good health, but also possibly increase the chances of “having a male baby.” However, good intentions aside, some Ayurvedic medicines are harmful and have been identified as the source of lead poisoning in both the mother and the unborn child in several recent cases—two of which resulted in miscarriages.

Ayurvedic medicine is a medical practice rooted in ancient religious beliefs and practiced by over 1 billion individuals in India and southern Asia. In the U.S., Ayurvedic medicine is gaining in popularity as televised health shows and health magazines tout the benefits of following an Ayurvedic diet as a healthy way to fight obesity and adopt a fit and thin lifestyle.

However, while Ayurvedic medicine promotes a sensible and healthy diet, it also unfortunately promotes the use of supplements consisting of toxic ingredients that are known to cause serious health and developmental damage in children. One type of Ayurvedic medicine is the use of “rasa shastra”—an ancient medical alchemy where herbal products are laced with mercury, lead and arsenic.

In the recent past, Ayurveda rasa shastra medicine in the U.S. resulted in multiple instances of reported heavy-metal poisoning cases that were subsequently traced to the patients consuming Ayurvedic medicines that were bought online.

More recently, however, the CDC reports in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 6 cases of lead poisoning in pregnant women in New York who had been taking Ayurvedic supplements that were personally bought in India or provided by relatives.

In New York, state law requires that pregnant women identified as being at-risk of lead and other toxic metal poisoning be assessed for lead exposure during the first trimester of a pregnancy. These test results are forwarded to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) for investigation toward identifying the source or sources of the lead exposure when blood levels for lead are equal to or greater than10 μg/dL.

This year, 6 cases of exceedingly high levels of lead were detected in the blood of pregnant women who admitted to taking Ayurvedic supplements from India. The levels of lead poisoning were 16 μg/dL ( micrograms per deciliter), 24 μg/dL, 42 μg/dL, 49 μg/dL, 52 μg/dL and 64 μg/dL in the six women. Unsafe levels of lead in the blood are determined to be at 10 μg/dL and higher.

Follow eMaxHealth on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Please, click to subscribe to our Youtube Channel to be notified about upcoming health and food tips.

The recommended treatment for lead poisoning in pregnant women with blood levels of 45-69 μg/dL during the 2nd half of their pregnancy is chelation therapy. Chelation therapy involves taking medications that will bind to the lead in the blood and allow it to be excreted from the body with urine.

The fetal health dangers of carrying unsafe levels of lead in the bloodstream while pregnant include abnormal neurodevelopment such as mental retardation, a decrease in fetal growth, and an increase in the risk for premature birth and/or a miscarriage.

After the pregnant women underwent chelation treatment, two successful births were reported with one infant measuring a lead blood level of 23 μg/dL three days after birth and the other infant at 7 μg/dL at birth. A third infant was not measured, a fourth had not been born yet at time of the report, and the remaining two pregnancies ended in miscarriage.

Previously, a list of 22 mediations, supplements and remedies were identified by the DOHMH as containing high levels of heavy metals that included lead, mercury and arsenic—10 of which were used by the six pregnant women.

The following is a list of Ayurvedic medications and other health remedies that have been identified by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as possessing toxic heavy metals:

1. Emperor’s Tea Pill (concentrated)
2. Calabash Chalk (Nzu)
3. Garbha Chintamani Ras (Vrihat) (Swarna Yukt)
4. Garbha Dharak Yog
5. Garbhapal Ras (from unknown source)
6. Garbhapal Ras§ (from Shri Vishwamitra Ayurved Pharmaceuticals)
7. Hepatico Extract (concentrated)
8. Jambrulin
9. Kankayan Bati (Gulma)
10. Lakshmivilash Ras (Nardiya)
11. Laxmana Louh
12. Maha Sudarshan
13. Mahashakti Rasayan
14. Mahayogaraj Guggulu (enriched with silver)
15. Ovarin
16. Pigmento
17. Pregnita
18. Sorin
19. Tierra Santa
20. Vasant Kusumakar Ras (with Gold and Pearl)
21. Vatvidhwansan Ras§
22. Vita Breath

The recommendation of the CDC is that health-care providers should advise patients to stop using foreign products that might contain heavy metals and that physicians should consider testing patients for exposure to lead or other heavy metals if use is reported. An editorial report adds that the FDA urges consumers to use caution with Ayurvedic products and that although not all Ayurvedic medications include heavy metals intentionally, all six patients in this report used “rasa shastra” medications that are intentionally prepared with metal, mineral, or gem compounds that can pose a health threat to pregnant mothers and their fetuses.

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Reference: “Lead Poisoning in Pregnant Women Who Used Ayurvedic Medications from India — New York City, 2011–2012” CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; Vol. 61, No. 33, August 24, 2012.



the above mentioned medicines can only be harmful if taken without proper doctors prescription and in high doses, and also if they are not properly prepared by pharmaceutical company. so before posting such articles please verify the above mentioned points. any medicine of the world would prove harmful if not taken according to norms. yes rasa shasrta medicines contain all such heavy metals, but they are so processed and is in such low doses that they can not cause damage. this therapy is helping peoples since 1000 years ,so without knowledge please do not post such articles.
As a classical practitioner of ayurved I am always alarmed by these reports. There must be a consideration of the quality of the supplements that are taken and an analysis of the actual health of the affected parties; not just a blood test. Without these there is no way to know if this is an instance of real concern or one of misunderstanding ayurveda. Millions of Indian women take these medicines -- most of which we have to assume are of good quality and properly taken and prepared. Indians do not have a higher rate of defects etc that may be related to 'heavy metal' exposure. It must be remembered that 'risk' is usually used to mean there is a statistical correlation-- not a cause and affect relationship. This controversy will continue until there is a better understanding on the part of both parties.
Ayurveda is the ancient science. All the formulations were tested in multiple ways and are still studied by the scholars. Indian's are using these medications since long time n had safe pregnant life n delivery without any complications. Indian huge population itself can be the best example for this. kindly recheck in all parameters before posting any articles