Lead Dangers in Folk Medicine
Many children are harmed by lead poisoning every year. Since discovering the dangers of lead a couple of decades ago, efforts have been underway to identify sources and raise awareness to prevent the toxin. Unfortunately, we now know that a number of cultures’ folk medicine practices have incorporated lead products. The Center for Disease Control CDC has identified the following regions of concern: East Indian, West Asian, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern countries.
Traditional contain a variety of natural goods. Mineral, herbs, animal products, and metals are some of the most common products used. Lead as well as other heavy metals are purposely placed into certain folk medicines as they are thought to cure some ailments. Additionally, lead accidentally gets in folk medicine during methods of preparation such as grinding or coloring.
Sellers of a remedy may not know whether the medicine has lead in it. Lead is difficult to detect as it cannot be tasted or seen. Lead in even very small amounts is harmful. There is not even a blood level that is considered safe. Since lead poisoning from these medicines can cause illness or death, it is important to use caution.
If you suspect your child has taken a medicine that contains lead, see a doctor immediately. He will be able to perform a blood test to see if in fact the child has been exposed to lead and provide the best treatment. Typically, children and adults who have lead in their blood will not show symptoms. Therefore, it is imperative to get tested. There is no way to identify lead poisoning without a blood test. Be on the safe side and see a doctor.
Lead has been found in tablets and powders used to treat indigestion, menstrual cramps, arthritis, infertility, colic, and other illnesses. In Hispanic cultures, Greta and Azarcon which also go by names of Alarcon, coral, luiga, maria luisa, or rueda are used as medicines to treat upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and teething babies. Both medicines are orange powders and may have lead contents as high as 90%. In India, Ghasard is a brown powder that contains lead. The Chinese remedy Ba-baw-san is given to young children to treat colic or pacify them. It also contains lead. Recently, Daw Tway, a digestive aid in Thailand and Burma, has also shown to have lead.
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