Health Canada is advising to watch out for heavy metals in unapproved Ayurvedic medicinal products. Some of these products contain excessive amounts of mercury,arsenic and lead which are of course harmful to anyone but specifically to children. These metals usually accumulate in the body and create adverse conditions to users.
The toxic effects of lead may include abdominal pain, anaemia, changes in blood pressure, reproductive effects, weakness, concentration problems, weight loss, insomnia, dizziness, kidney and brain damage. The toxic effects of mercury may include irritability, tremors, memory loss, insomnia, and concentration problems. Mercury can permanently damage the brain and kidneys. The toxic effects of arsenic may include skin and lung cancers, as well as heart and kidney disease and liver damage.
The Health Canada has a specific case where in March 2008, a domestic case of heavy metal poisoning was published in the British Columbia Medical Journal, involving an adult male with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. The patient had been taking one tablet daily of the unauthorized Ayurvedic product Puspadhanva Rasa over a number of years to "increase vigour". Puspadhanva Rasa is manufactured by the Shri Dhanwantri Ayurvedic Pharmacy in India. The patient purchased this product in India and imported it into Canada for personal use. The product was found to contain extremely high levels of lead, mercury and arsenic.
Consumers should exercise caution when purchasing health products from outside Canada or over the Internet, as these products may not have undergone the same degree of assessment as those authorized for sale in Canada. Authorized health products will either bear an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), a Natural Product Number (NPN), or a Homeopathic Drug Number (DIN-HM). These numbers indicate that the product has been assessed by Health Canada for safety, efficacy and quality.
Consumers requiring more information about this Information Update can contact Health Canada's public enquiries line at (613) 957-2991, or toll free at 1-866-225-0709
Consumers who find this product on the Canadian market are asked to contact the Health Products and Food Branch Inspectorate at 1-800-267-9675.
Consumers who have used this product and who are concerned about their health should contact a health professional for advice.
To report a suspected adverse reaction to one of these products please contact the Canada Vigilance Program of Health Canada by one of the following methods:
Canada Vigilance Program
Marketed Health Products Directorate
Ottawa, Ontario, AL 0701C