Canada again raises red flag on ayurveda

March 26th, 2008 - 9:46 am ICT by admin  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, March 26 (IANS) Canadians have once again been warned not to use ayurvedic remedies because of their high lead, arsenic and mercury content. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver has made the latest warning after two Indo-Canadians were diagnosed with heavy metal poisoning in city hospitals.

Health Canada has repeatedly warned Canadians not to use these unapproved remedies. Both the Indo-Canadian patients were using ayurvedic medicines bought in India.

In the first case, the patient was admitted to a Vancouver hospital after he complained of vomiting and diarrhoea.

“His blood tests showed that he suffered from heavy metal poisoning. He said he was using ayurvedic tablets bought in India to boost his energy,” Rob Gair of the Drug and Poison Control Information Centre told IANS.

Gair said the second Indo-Canadian patient was admitted to another hospital after he complained of nausea and acute abdominal pain.

“His blood tests also showed heavy metal poisoning and he too said he was using an ayurvedic powder for diabetes,” he said.

Gair said his centre was consulted by the hospitals for removing the poisonous heavy metal content from these patients.

“They were treated for about three weeks, and they are fine,” said Gair, without identifying the patients or their age.

Asked how this could happen when ayurvedic medicine has been used in India for thousands of years, Gair said: “There is a lack of quality control in today’s India. Earlier, India used to have practitioners of ayurveda. They used to burn heavy metals by multiple heating and cooling processes. But modern Indian methods lack that.”

Since ayurvedic remedies are not approved in this country, Health Canada has thrice warned people since 2006 not to use these concoctions.

In June 2006, it cautioned people against using India-made Annai Aravindh Herbals Rheuma-7 Capsules, Himalaya Diabecon Tablets, Laurel’s Diabecs Capsules and Goodcare Diabet Guard Granules, citing excessive lead and mercury content in them.

“The toxic effects of lead may cause abdominal pain, anaemia, changes in blood pressure, reproductive effects, weakness, concentration problems, weight loss, insomnia, dizziness, kidney and brain damage, and ultimately death.

“The toxic effects of mercury may cause irritability, tremors, memory loss, insomnia, concentration problems, and can permanently damage the brain and kidneys,” it warned.

Similarly, in July 2005, Canada listed India-made Karela tablets, Maha Sudarshan Churna powder, Safi liquid, Yograj Guggul tablets, Sudarshan tablets, and Shilajit capsules as dangerous remedies.

In fact, Safi liquid, produced by Delhi’s Hamdard Labs, was cited to contain arsenic 40 times more than the permissible level. Also listed as dangerous remedies are infant-related remedies such as Bal Chamcha, Bala Ghuti, Bala Sogathi and Balaguti Kesaria.

However, many Indo-Canadians have paid no heed and continue to use these remedies.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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