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What’s in your herbal treatment

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So often people are taking herbal remedies for menopause, for fertility or for erectile dysfunction and don’t know exactly what is in them.
In this month’s Australian Family Physician journal there is a cautionary tale.
A patient seeking fertility had been prescribed multiple herbal preparations by an Ayurvedic herbal practitioner.  She presented with shortness of breath, palpitations and joint pains. She was found to have a serious anaemia and an analysis of the herbal preparations revealed high levels of lead, mercury, arsenic and chromium.  She required chelation therapy to “mop up” the heavy metal levels in her body and the anaemia improved gradually over the next 3 months.
Heavy metal toxicity is a known complication of Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine especially those imported and bought off the web.  Regular use of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine can result in heavy metal poisoning.  One study found that more than 20% of Ayervedic products had lead levels in excess of acceptable standards. Be aware that lead, mercury, arsenic and chromium will not be listed on the label in your herbal preparations although they may be present.