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Ayurvedic infertility pills cause lead poisoning in Canadian woman: Report


Toronto, Aug 8 (IANS) A 39-year-old woman in Canada experienced lead poisoning and landed in hospital after using Ayurvedic medicines to treat infertility, according to a case report in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) on Tuesday.

“Given that lead toxicity is uncommon and its presentation nonspecific, patients are often seen by many healthcare providers before the diagnosis is made,” writes Dr. Julian Gitelman, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, with co-authors.

“A careful exposure history is essential to suggest the diagnosis.”

The Canadian patient visited the emergency department three times in six weeks for abdominal pain, constipation, nausea and vomiting. On her third visit, she was admitted to hospital for anaemia and possible gastrointestinal bleeding. Numerous, invasive investigations failed to reveal a cause of her symptoms.

At a follow-up visit weeks later, she reported having taken Ayurvedic medicines daily for more than a year to treat infertility. Her blood lead level was high at 55 micrograms per decilitre, compared with a normal level of less than 2 micrograms per decilitre.

The patient stopped taking the Ayurvedic treatments and began chelation therapy. Her blood lead level decreased and her symptoms resolved, the report said.

Once the diagnosis of lead toxicity was made, the medical team contacted Public Health Ontario (PHO), which tested 17 different pill samples provided by the patient and found high levels of lead in most of the pills.

An investigation of the Ayurvedic clinic resulted in the seizure of hundreds of pills due to noncompliance with the Natural Health Products Regulations. Both Health Canada and Toronto Public Health issued public advisories to warn people that the products from this specific business were health hazards.

The authors emphasised the importance of communication and collaboration between clinicians and public health to minimise the health risk of lead in consumer products.

“A recent systematic review of case reports on lead poisoning found traditional or herbal medications to be a common cause,” the authors said.

“Heavy metals are sometimes intentionally added for their perceived healing properties.”

“When consumer products may be contaminated with lead, or when lead exposure is linked to sources in the community, involving public health can facilitate broader actions to reduce and prevent exposures to other people at risk,” they said.

Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad is a news channel and fortnightly newspaper meant for Australia’s Indian community and, besides news, focuses on lifestyle subjects like health, travel, culture, arts, beauty, fashion, entertainment, Bollywood, etc. Our YouTube channel here features daily news bulletins besides infotainment videos on lifestyle subjects.

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