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One hundred ninety-three of the 230 requested medicines were received and analyzed. The prevalence of metal-containing products was 20.7% (95% confidence interval [CI], 15.2%-27.1%). The prevalence of metals in US-manufactured products was 21.7% (95% CI, 14.6%-30.4%) compared with 19.5% (95% CI, 11.3%-30.1%) in Indian products (P = .86). Rasa shastra compared with non–rasa shastra medicines had a greater prevalence of metals (40.6% vs 17.1%; P = .007) and higher median concentrations of lead (11.5 µg/g vs 7.0 µg/g; P = .03) and mercury (20 800 µg/g vs 34.5 µg/g; P = .04). Among the metal-containing products, 95% were sold by US Web sites and 75% claimed Good Manufacturing Practices. All metal-containing products exceeded 1 or more standards for acceptable daily intake of toxic metals. 

Conclusion: One-fifth of both U.S. manufactured and Indian-manufactured Ayurvedic medicines purchased via the Internet contain detectable lead, mercury, or arsenic. 

Author Affiliations: Department of Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center (Drs Saper and Sehgal and Ms Khouri), Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Drs Phillips and Davis), Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Osher Research Center, Harvard Medical School (Drs Phillips and Davis), and Environmental and Occupational Medicine and Epidemiology, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health (Dr Kales), Boston, Massachusetts; New England Regional Laboratory, Environmental Protection Agency, North Chelmsford, Massachusetts (Dr Paquin); National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India and Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, St John's Medical College, Bangalore (Dr Thuppil); and Employee and Industrial Medicine, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Dr Kales). 

Journal of the American Medical Association. 2008;300(8):915-923

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