An Ayurvedic approach to the issue.
American medical Association’s Inability to ascertain the metals’ chemical forms, which can impact bio-availability and toxicity, makes it clear that just the detection of heavy metal content in the medicine samples need not necessarily translate into heavy metal related toxicity symptoms clinically. Karela capsule produced by The Himalaya Drug Company is supposed to contain only a standardized powder of the harmless bitter gourd, so traces of lead 7 micrograms per gram, though very close to the recommended daily allowance, the content of lead may be a naturally occurring phenomenon in plants and the same holds good for similar related medicines like Bala Guti manufactured by Zandu.
Today because of adaptability of Ayurveda with the principles of modern sciences we have been successful in generating a lot of research by clinically evaluating the efficiency and benefits of these medicines when taken under the supervision of Ayurveda doctors at quality health care institutions. Ayurveda clearly has recognized and established all the symptoms of Heavy metal toxicity at least 3000 years ago, and has advocated stringent standards to use the metals therapeutically only after eliminating its toxic effects by processing. Still as a support system, Ayurveda prescribes a strict Pathya - A scientifically valid dietary regimen customized according to the person, intensity of the disease and nature of medicine in such a way that there is absolutely no adverse effect from the prescribed medicine.
55 people being affected in 24 years and with nearly a billion users makes this AMA Journal report of poor relevance, and seemingly not a valid allegation on Ayurveda; a system of medicine that has been perpetually helping billions of people since the dawn of civilization. But my advice as a responsible Ayurveda Doctor is that people need to consult a qualified Ayurveda practitioner before they start taking any of the medicines. This is as simple as what you do when you need any medical attention from the conventional system of Allopathic medicine. All that is labeled herbal need not be Ayurvedic and not all herbs are safe, for example opium is a herb and when misused shows disastrous effects. Every one should realize that medicines are not to be underestimated as OTC (over the counter sale) products. A qualified practitioner knows best about what medicines to use when and how because there is seemingly no difference between food, medicine and poison, they can play each others’ roles, so it only depends on the dosage and intention behind using them.
Dr CM Pradyumna is Director of Medicine, The Vedic Village, Kolkata