The government won’t do anything about ayurveda’s heavy metal problem

India wants to go big with ayurveda exports. But it’s not willing to prove that the medicines are safe.

The US doesn’t recognize ayurveda as medicine. You can buy ayurvedic products in the country, but they’re called “food supplements” and “nutraceuticals”. Last month, officials at the Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy met with those from the US Food and Drug Administration. A key part of the agenda was formal recognition of ayurveda as a system of medicine.

There were two main sticking points, say two officials present at the meeting, on condition of anonymity. One, the FDA wanted clinical proof of the efficacy of ayurveda. Two, it was worried about the toxic heavy metals found in ayurvedic …


Omkar Khandekar

Omkar specializes in long-form narrative features and has reported from India, the UK, Germany and the Maldives. He writes across beats, from politics and crime to cinema and sports. His works have been published in Indian and international outlets including The Caravan, Mint Lounge, the BBC, Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post.

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