Status:
Active
Health advisory:
200922
Date Issued:
22 Sep 2020
Issued by:
Dr Angie Bone, Deputy Chief Health Officer (Environment)
Issued to:
Health professionals and consumers

Key messages

  • An Ayurvedic medication ‘Manasmithra Vatika’ (Manasamitram Pills), imported from India, has been found to contain lead and other heavy metals.
  • Young children, including unborn babies, are at greatest risk of the health effects of lead exposure.
  • Anyone who is using this product or giving it to a child should be advised to stop immediately, consult a GP and arrange testing. 
  • The department must be notified of all blood lead levels greater than 5 μg/dL within five days of diagnosis.

What is the issue?

NSW Health was recently notified of a child with a mildly elevated blood lead level who had been prescribed the Ayurvedic medicine, Manasmithra Vatika. Laboratory analysis of a sample found that it contained lead and other heavy metals, which are currently being assessed. This Ayurvedic medicine is known both locally and internationally to be contaminated with heavy metals including lead.  

Who is at risk?

Children and pregnant women are most at risk from lead exposure. The health effects from exposure to lead depend on a number of factors including:

  • a person’s age
  • how much lead they are exposed to and for how long 
  • if they have other health conditions.

Symptoms

Acute lead poisoning is very serious and is usually caused by a recent exposure to a high amount of lead. The symptoms may include:

  • stomach pains
  • constipation
  • tiredness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • headache
  • seizures.

Extremely high blood lead levels can cause long-term organ damage and even death. A person who is exposed to smaller amounts of lead over a longer time period may have symptoms such as:

  • irritability
  • behavioural problems
  • lack of energy 
  • raised blood pressure 
  • loss of appetite 
  • poor coordination.

The symptoms of low-level exposure can be hard to detect particularly in children but can still cause long term harm. Many of the symptoms above could be caused by other conditions. 

Recommendations

People taking the Ayurvedic medication ‘Manasmithra Vatika’ (Manasamitram Pills), should stop immediately and speak with their GP about blood lead testing. Further information is being gathered about the composition of the medicine to understand the risks from other contaminants.

Anyone taking Manasmithra Vatika is welcome to contact the DHHS Environment Section on 1300 761 874 to discuss any concerns they may have.

More information

Clinical information

Victorian Poisons Information Centre Tel. 13 11 26 – for advice when poisoning or suspected poisoning occurs and for poisoning prevention information (24 hours, 7 days).

Frequently Asked Questions, NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on the Effects of Lead on Human Health (May 2015)

(NHMRC) Managing individual exposure to lead in Australia - A guide for health practitioners (April 2016)

Consumer information

For more information about lead exposure and health: Better Health Channel - Lead exposure and your health

For more information about complementary therapies and safety and legal issues:
Better Health Channel - Complementary therapies - safety and legal issues

Contacts

For more information please contact the DHHS Environmental Health Policy and Risk Management Unit on 1300 761 874.