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  • IN THE NAME OF AYURVEDA WHAT MANY PEOPLE TREAD---THEY KILL THE HEALTHY WITH ARSENIC, MERCURY AND LEAD : Of late, Ayurveda has become a tool of deception and fraud at the hands of some modern day quacks and fat profiteers who, in league with high echelons of health and drug authorities of India, are not only luring the gullible people to eat heavy and toxic metals through their pseudo-Ayurvedic medicines, but are also defaming the Ayurvedic system as well, at international level. They are making whimsical and unscientific alterations, deletions, and additions in a tailor-made style in certain ancient Ayurvedic formulations, and are selling these harmful pseudo-Ayurvedic medicines at exorbitant price, after stuffing them in colourful and glittering packagings, and raising some catchy ( but false ) slogans. Whereas Ayurveda believes that nothing is good for everybody, and everything is good for somebody, but Indian profiteers work on the principle that everything made by them under the disguise of ‘herbal” is good for every body. Whereas largely in India, and partially in the U. S., owing to political or other reasons, hardly the Governments move to take action against fraudulent companies indulging in making false marketing claims, but countries like Finland, Mexico, even Nepal, etc., are highly serious and vigilant in this direction. In such types of cases, Finland’s National Food Agency (FNFA.), in a clampdown in the year 2003, banned several food supplement makers from making false health claims. This Finnish agency imposed a number of marketing bans, thus preventing many of the companies from making misleading information. In July 2003 Finland announced the setting up of a network of experts to assess the research-based evidence behind health claims. Among the companies pulled up by the FNFA., some were making unsubstantiated claims that their products improved performance, increased resistance, and had a favorable influence on vital functions. Food marketing in Finland is currently being governed by Section 6 of the Food Act. Also in July 2003, a proposed European health claims directive was published for getting passed by Parliament and the European Council before becoming law in 2005, and it would govern health claims in Finland from then on. [ source : http://www.nutringredients.com ]. On June 19, 2003, America’s Federal Trade Commission ( FTC ) and the Food & Drug Administration ( FDA ) had announced coordinated actions against two quack companies—both charged with promoting a dietary supplement “SEASILVER” with unsubstantiated medical claims. The action of these two Govt. agencies against M/s SEASILVER USA, INC. and M/s AMERICALOE, INC. were designed to halt the fraudulent marketing of the product Seasilver, and to seize the inventory of the product. The FTC had charged the two companies, their owners, the distributor, as well as a purported “expert” with making false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits and safety of a product they marketed under the brand “Seasilver”—a purported cure all liquid supplement. Indian herbal remedies are coming under constant attack From learned Vaidyas and allopathic doctors, But the Indian Govt. is unruffled: A straightforward condemnation from noted Vaidyas and scientists, of a useless products like CHAYAVANPRASH, has already been highlighted in the press. Further to this polemical chapter, in a short note published by some DR. S. KUMAR in the most prestigious medical journal, Lancet ( Vol. 351, Page 1190, April 18, 1998 ), it is stated that Indian traditional medical systems, such as Ayurveda, have come under heavy criticism for irrational and outdated practices. In this note, VAIDYA BALENDU PRAKSH, chairman of Health Ministry’s Central Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani Drugs technical advisory board, is quoted to have said, “THE MAJORITY OF AYURVEDIC FORMULATIONS AVAILABLE IN THE MARKET ARE EITHER SPURIOUS, ADULTERATED, OR MISBRANDED”. In another reference, made in the same note, to DR. RANJIT ROY CHAUDHARY, chairman of the scientific advisory board on Traditional System of Medicine of the Indian Council of Medical Research ( ICMR ), is also reported to have said that Standardization of such drugs is very poor, and essential ingredients are often substituted with non-active plants of similar appearance. Not only this, according to Vaidy Balendu Prakash most commercially available preparations do not even conform to ancient Ayurvedic texts. These texts have clearly stated that herbs loose their medicinal properties just a year after collection; powders made from them remain effective only for 6 months, and pastes last maximum for 1 year. Yet, commercial formulations, like Chayavanprash, usually print an expiry date as 3 years, by which time the product turns into the grave-yard of dead and decomposed herbs ]. According to Vaidya Balendu Prakash, quality control of Ayurvedic products is virtually non-existent; but traders, government agencies, and the industries themselves are absolutely unwilling to adopt any guidelines. In this context Dr. S. Kumar’s note titled, “INDIAN HERBAL REMEDIES COME UNDER ATTACK”, published in the journal Lancet, is worth reading. Similarly, a research paper by a group of seven doctors, headed by R. B. SAPER, published in the Journal of American Medical Association [ Dec 15, 2004 ; Vol. 292, No. 23, Page 2868-73 ] it is stated that one of 5 Ayurvedic herbal medicinal products (HMPs) manufactured in South Asia, and available in Boston South Asian grocery stores, contains potentially harmful levels of lead ( Pb ) mercury ( Hg ), and / or arsenic ( As ). Users of Ayurvedic medicine may be at risk for heavy metal toxicity, and testing of Ayurvedic HMPs for toxic heavy metals should be mandatory. But will it be possible in the corrupt work culture of India ? In the years 2003 and 2004, the Nepalese drug authorities openly ignited an entire seized stock of non-sensical herbal tonic, SONA CHANDI CHYAVANPRASH, by declaring that the tall and scientifically impossible health claims made for this product were against the law of Nepal.
  • (Posted on June 16, 2007, 9:09 am G. S. JOHAR)

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