Re: Toxic lead exposure via an unusual source

In the Jan/Feb BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) article [BCMJ 2019;61:41], authors refer to an ayruvedic herbal remedy as an unusual source of toxic lead exposure. In fact, ayruvedic herbal medicine has been well documented to contain toxic lead levels.[1,2] The BCCDC article serves as a reminder of the importance of inquiring into a patient’s use of complementary and alternative medicine as an integral part of history taking. The use of ayruvedic medicine and potential lead poisoning can be readily identified, and that identification may have saved many emergency room visits, medical visits, and extensive investigations in this patient’s case. Ayruvedic herbal medicine from India and Chinese herbal medicine are the two most common complementary and alternative medicines that may contain lead and other heavy metals. In addition, some children’s costume jewelry has been reported as an unusual source of toxic lead exposure.[3]
—H.C. George Wong, MD, FRCPC

This letter was submitted in response to “Toxic lead exposure via an unusual source: New BC reporting regulations may prevent similar cases.”


1.    Gair R. Heavy metal poisoning from ayruvedic medicines. BCMJ 2008;50:105.

2.    Gunturu KS, Nagarajan P, McPhedran P, et al. Ayurvedic herbal medicine and lead poisoning. J Hematol Oncol 2011;4:51.

3.    Wong HCG. Trouble in toyland: Potential source of lead. BCMJ 2010;52:10.

H.C. George Wong, MD, FRCPC. Re: Toxic lead exposure via an unusual source. BCMJ, Vol. 61, No. 4, May, 2019, Page(s) 160 - Letters.

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