Taking Charge of Your Health

Some Ayurvedic Medicine Worse
Than Lead Paint Exposure In terms of antioxidant power, I couldn’t imagine anything
ever beating out cloves. But then, silly as a goose,
berry comes along. But then, in a whole
‘nother league, triphala. Triphala is the most commonly
used herbal formulation in all of Ayurvedic medicine. “Tri” means “three”;
“phala” (in Sanskrit) means “fruits.” It’s just a combination of three fruits: Indian gooseberries (amla),
bibhitaki fruit, and haritaki fruit. It’s not some drug, some extract,
but just three types of fruits, dried and crushed into powder. What can it do? Well, antioxidant-wise, one little
pinch between your fingertips, which would cost a fraction of a penny,
has as much antioxidant power as about a cup of blueberries. We’re in the big leagues, here! It seems to be able to do
all the same amla tricks: preferentially wiping out
breast cancer cells in vitro, but leaving normal breast cells
relatively alone. Pancreatic cancer, too. By the time this concentration
of triphala was reached, 90% of the pancreatic cancer
cells were dead. As you can see, only 10%
of the cancer cells survived. If triphala were less toxic
to normal pancreas cells, we’d expect to see
something like this. And if it were completely
nontoxic to normal cells, we’d expect maybe this. But what they actually found was this. It actually kind of went out of its way
to protect the good cells while killing off the bad. Quoting from a review, recently “All these reports suggest the
effectiveness of triphala as a nontoxic selective
antineoplastic [anticancer] agent.” Meaning, nontoxic to normal cells
at doses toxic to tumor cells. That’s what we want. So what’s not to like? 2011 analysis: “Detection of toxic heavy metals and
pesticide residue in herbal plants which are commonly used
in the herbal formulations.” Uh oh. We started recognizing it as a
problem about a decade ago, when the CDC started
noticing cases of “Lead Poisoning Associated with
Ayurvedic Medications.” Fatal infant brain disease,
paralysis, deafness. So, researchers in Boston went to
every Indian market within 20 miles, and picked up every Ayurvedic herbal
medicine product they could find. One in five contained lead,
mercury, and/or arsenic. And that’s just a little bit. They found out that those suffering
Ayurvedic lead poisoning had higher lead levels than those suffering
lead paint removal poisoning! And it’s not just Boston. A national survey a few years ago found
that women using Ayurvedic herbs had lead levels 24%
higher than non-users. As spelled out in an editorial in the
Indian Journal of Medical Sciences: “Ayurvedic lead poisoning [is]
an under-recognized, international problem.”

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