Objective: The aim of this study was to confirm the connection between lead poisoning and the use of traditional Ayurvedic metal mineral tonics.
Methods: The study group comprised 29 subjects (26 adults and three children) who had previously taken Ayurvedic metal mineral tonics. All subjects were tested for lead absorption by blood lead, erythrocyte delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase activity and erythrocyte protoporphyrin.
Results: Eighteen samples of Ayurvedic preparations were obtained from 15 subjects and analyzed for lead content. Five adult subjects with established lead poisoning received chelation therapy. In Ayurvedic preparations a wide range of lead content was found (0.9-72,990 micrograms Pb/g; 0.35-29,900 micrograms Pb/capsule or tablet). The blood lead, erythrocyte delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase and erythrocyte protoporphyrin of the subjects, grouped according to the remedies used, correlated with the lead content in the preparations (p < 0.001). Chelation therapy was successful in normalization of laboratory findings and clinical recovery.
Conclusion: Ayurvedic metal-mineral tonics are again identified as a potential source of high lead. The import of such tonics should be strictly controlled.