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RTI: Steroids in many unbranded Ayurvedic medicines

ENS, Mumbai:  Findings from an RTI application have revealed toxic levels of steroids and metallic contents in many unbranded ayurvedic medicines that are freely available in the market.

The application filed by chemical consultant and RTI activist Dr A Shenoy had asked for the details of steroid and metal content of ayurvedic samples sent to KEM’s Ayurveda Research Centre (ARC) over the past five years. Results showed that out of the 244 samples analysed, 96 (39.34%) of them had tested positive for steroids like betamethasone, dexamethasone and prednisolone.

“Many people complained of health problems after consuming medicines from licensed ayurvedic shops and general physicians. Many doctors buy drugs like prednisolone and mix it with the original ayurvedic extract and then sell as bhasma or churan, promising that it will cure their ailments,” said Shenoy.

He also said while many patients felt an instant rush of relief after immediate consumption of the medicine, they gradually started complaining of chest pain, nervousness, weight gain and swollen joints.

The RTI also revealed that of 80 samples that been sent to the ARC, over the past five years, to test for levels of heavy metals, 42 have tested positive for containing lead, mercury and arsenic above permissible levels. Known to be toxic metals, these elements cause breathing problems, kidney damage and even coma in some cases.

However, head of KEM’s ARC, Dr Neelam Rege has warned against drawing hasty conclusions from the RTI findings. “It is important to know the source of these medicines, whether they have been prescribed by a credible doctor or a quack. Since patients don’t always reveal the source of the medicine, it would be wrong to say that most ayurvedic medicines are adulterated,” said Rege.


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