The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Mercury, arsenic, and lead levels in herbals

    Researchers from the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, in The Netherlands measured levels in Asian traditional herbal preparations that are available on the Dutch market.

    First, the details.

    • Between 2004 and 2007, 292 traditional herbal preparations used in Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and traditional Tibetan medicine were tested for mercury, arsenic, and lead.
    • Samples were mostly multi-ingredient traditional herbal preparations containing herbs and minerals.
    • Estimated weekly mercury, arsenic, and lead intake levels were calculated for each traditional herbal preparation based on the measured concentrations and recommended dose.

    And, the results.

    • The labels on fewer than 20% of the traditional herbal preparations suggested the presence of mercury, arsenic, or lead.
    • These elements were found in 186 (64%) of 292 traditional herbal preparations.
    • In 59 (20%) traditional herbal preparations these levels significantly exceeding safety limits.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded, “Mercury, arsenic, and lead contents of traditional herbal preparations used in Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and traditional Tibetan medicine remain a cause for concern and require strict control.”

    These findings are not surprising. Researchers in Boston have identified a similar situation here, and here.

    3/8/10 20:32 JR

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