Herbal back pain remedy linked to lead poisoning

The Indian Ayurvedic herbal medicine typically used for back pain has been linked to lead poisoning.

In a BMJ case report. published today a 26-year-old student from the US took the herbal medications to treat his lower back pain during a trip to india.

Upon returning home he continued to use four different types of Ayurvedic medications but developed pain in the upper central region of his abdomen, weight loss, dark stools, nausea and vomiting.

Investigations revealed he had anaemia and a high level of lead in his blood.

He was advised to discontinue the medications.  Treatment to remove excess iron was also commenced and the patient’s symptoms resolved within months.

“This case follows similar reports in the USA of acute lead toxicity from Ayurvedic medications produced in India,” writes Dr Judith Green-McKenzie, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

“Concern regarding the use of Ayurvedic herbal medicines originates from their easy availability, increasingly international use and global reach, lack of focused scientific research and the possibility of abuse in an unregulated industry,” she concludes.

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