Centre declares 8 metals in Ayurveda 'safe'

“Trials have found ‘bhasmas’ are safe. The results will be published in December,” reliable sources involved with the process told Deccan Herald. Even though the market for Ayurvedic drugs are expanding in the West, researchers periodically raise fingers on prolonged use of these medicine because of their heavy metal content.

The last hue and cry was raised in 2008 when scientists from Boston University, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health and St John Hospital in Bangalore detected significant quantities of lead, mercury and arsenic.

The research was published in the Journal of American Medical Association.
The department of Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) under the Union health ministry countered that these metals are used “after proper detoxification process and no significant adverse drug reactions have been reported regarding their use in India.” However, such “detoxification process” is not recognised by modern science. To find out answer to the queries raised by western scientists, the Ayush department launched a project called Golden Triangle to scientifically validate Ayurvedic drugs. 

Indian Council of Medical Research and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research are the two other partners in the project. Scientifically validating eight bhasmas is the first outcome of the project. The Centre is also creating industrial clusters for Ayurvedic drugs where common testing facilities will be set up to manufacture the products more scientifically. The government plans to set up 10 such clusters, out of which 8 have been sanctioned.

Out of the eight approved parks, one is in Karnataka. Each cluster has been given an initial fund of Rs 10 crore to start the ball rolling. Also the clusters have made a buy-back arrangement with the cultivators of medicinal plants to ensure quality of the products.

As a first step to address issues regarding lack of standardisation in Indian systems of medicines, the government has tied up with the Quality Council of India to start a voluntary certification process.

The QCI has identified agencies that can certify the manufacturing units. There are about 9,000 manufacturers of Ayurvedic drugs out of which only about 50 are big firms with more than Rs 50 crores.

The cabinet has approved Rs 650 crore to have AYUSH outlets at allopathic healthcare units and upgrading nine Ayurvedic and Unani medical colleges.

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