Lead poisoning from Asian traditional remedies in the West Midlands--report of a series of five cases

Hum Exp Toxicol. 1995 Jan;14(1):24-8. doi: 10.1177/096032719501400106.


1. Traditional remedies are an unusual, but recognised cause of lead poisoning. Only two cases have previously been reported in this country. 2. We report a series of five cases of lead poisoning due to traditional remedies in the West Midlands. All developed typical clinical features. 3. Blood lead and zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP) concentrations were elevated 2-10 times the upper limit of normal. The remedies contained up to 60% lead by weight. One also contained traces of mercury, another arsenic, and a third aluminium and tin. 4. Confirmation of the medicines as the cause of the poisoning was made in one patient by measurement of lead isotopic ratios. 5. The present morbidity from traditional remedies may be far greater than is realised, and will continue until such time as the supply of harmful preparations can be effectively limited. There needs to be increased awareness of their dangers amongst doctors and the communities at risk. This will best be achieved by appropriately targeted education.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lead / blood
  • Lead / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Medicine, East Asian Traditional
  • Middle Aged
  • Powders
  • Tablets
  • Zinc / blood
  • Zinc / toxicity


  • Powders
  • Tablets
  • Lead
  • Zinc