So it turns out "alternative medicine" (read: quackery) can be really bad for your health... According to a study just released in JAMA, both US and Indian manufactured Ayurvedic medicines bought over the internet contain detectable levels of lead, mercury, or arsenic. The researchers bought 230 randomly selected Ayurvedic medicines from 25 websites, found using standard search engines, and then measured their metal concentrations using x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. Incredibly, 20.7% (one in five) of the medicines contained levels of metal that violated one or more standards of acceptable daily intake. Perhaps surprisingly, US manufacturers actually faired worse than their Indian counterparts - 21.7% of the US products contained metal vs 19.5% of the Indian products.
There is a reason scientific medicine was invented. There is a reason regulatory bodies were set up. And avoiding situations like this - where medicines which probably do people little good anyway end up harming them - is it.
(Via New Scientist).