Heavy metals and living systems: An overview

Indian J Pharmacol. 2011 May;43(3):246-53. doi: 10.4103/0253-7613.81505.


Heavy metals are natural constituents of the earth's crust, but indiscriminate human activities have drastically altered their geochemical cycles and biochemical balance. This results in accumulation of metals in plant parts having secondary metabolites, which is responsible for a particular pharmacological activity. Prolonged exposure to heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc can cause deleterious health effects in humans. Molecular understanding of plant metal accumulation has numerous biotechnological implications also, the long term effects of which might not be yet known.

Keywords: Ayurveda; herbal preparation; hyper accumulation; phytoremediation.