Occult lead poisoning from Ayurvedic medicine produced, prescribed and purchased in India

Nilika G Wijeratne, James C G Doery and Andis Graudins
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2011.tb03776.x
Published online: 21 February 2011

To the Editor: A 28-year-old man presented to his general practitioner with a history of epigastric pain and constipation over 1 month. In addition, he had a history of chronic low back pain. Findings on physical examination were unremarkable. Laboratory investigations showed normo-chromic, normocytic anaemia with basophilic stippling (Box 1). His whole-blood lead level was subsequently estimated to be 4.12 μmol/L (level recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Centre for all Australians, < 0.48 μmol/L). The patient was referred for toxicological review. Further questioning revealed he had used three Ayurvedic medicines (Vatyog [Arya Aushadhi Pharmaceutical Works, Indore, India], Sahacharadi [Arya Vaidya Nilayam, Madurai, India] and Gandharvahastadi [Arya Vaidya Nilayam, Madurai, India]) for back pain, dispensed to him 3 months earlier during a trip to India. He ceased taking the medications, and a 19-day course of oral chelation with succimer was administered. His blood lead concentration fell rapidly, with a moderate rebound 6 weeks after the completion of chelation therapy. A negative blood lead result for the patient’s pregnant partner excluded environmental exposure in the patient’s home.

  • Nilika G Wijeratne1
  • James C G Doery1,2
  • Andis Graudins2,3

  • 1 Department of Pathology, Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Department of Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Department of Emergency Medicine, Southern Health, Melbourne, VIC.


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