Contamination of mercury in tongkat Ali hitam herbal preparations

Food Chem Toxicol. 2006 Aug;44(8):1245-50. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2006.01.014. Epub 2006 Mar 29.


The DCA (Drug Control Authority), Malaysia has implemented the phase three registration of traditional medicines on 1 January 1992. As such, a total of 100 products in various pharmaceutical dosage forms of a herbal preparation found in Malaysia, containing tongkat Ali hitam, either single or combined preparations, were analyzed for the presence of a heavy toxic metal, mercury, using atomic absorption spectrophotometer, after performing a simple random sampling to enable each sample an equal chance of being selected in an unbiased manner. Results showed that 26% of these products possessed 0.53-2.35 ppm of mercury, and therefore, do not comply with the quality requirement for traditional medicines in Malaysia. The quality requirement for traditional medicines in Malaysia is not exceeding 0.5 ppm for mercury. Out of these 26 products, four products have already registered with the DCA, Malaysia whilst the rest, however, have not registered with the DCA, Malaysia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Drug Contamination
  • Eurycoma / chemistry*
  • Malaysia
  • Mercury / analysis*
  • Plant Preparations / analysis*
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic


  • Plant Preparations
  • Mercury