The article in 15 December issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 20 percent of Ayurvedic herbal supplements were found to contain toxic levels of lead, arsenic and mercury.
California based Ayurceutics - whose parent company is Renaissance Herbs - said it believed heavy metal contamination to be a serious issue, but that its herbal ingredients undergo rigorous testing before arriving on the market.
"The herb extracts are packed in clean rooms into double sealed HDPE drums and shipped to our headquarters in Los Angeles. Encapsulation and bottle filling are done in the US at NNFA A-rated, GMP facilities," said the company, adding that test results are then verified by independent laboratories.
The company also pointed out that the products found to be containing heavy metals were actually banned by US law and should not have been on the market.
This point was also highlighted by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) in yesterday's edition of NutraIngredientsUSA.com.
The AHPA noted that the authors failed to clarify that many of the products tested - in addition to naturally occuring metals - contained non-herbal ingredients, such as sulfide of mercury, "which no doubt accounts for the high levels of heavy metals detected in these imported products".
"One product was found to contain more than 10 percent mercury and four others were noted to exceed one percent of total heavy metals," added the organization.
In other words, these are adulterated supplements that are unlawful under DSHEA.
Michael McGuffin, president of the AHPA, told NutraIngredientsUSA.com that the scientists "did a fine job" in terms of research, but "these products should not be sold under US law", suggesting the problem of these supplements lies not with Ayurvedic herbal medicines, but with the importing of these particular products.