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Avoiding lead in herbs?

herbs adaptogens lead

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#1 adastra

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 01:29 AM


Hello everyone, 

 

After a long absence, I am back with a pointed (and poignant!) question about the sourcing of supplements.

 

To get really specific for a moment, I take rhodiola occasionally but am looking to expand into eleuthero, and possibly other adaptogens. Eleuthero is usually imported from China, with California requiring a warning about possible lead content in it. I have found another source on Ebay that is from Russia, but that would take about two months to ship to the USA, according to the estimate. And still, would Russia provide less of a risk from lead contamination? Who could tell?

 

Generally speaking, has anyone found a good way to go about making sure that supplements (and especially herbal ones) are minimally toxic? I am aware of hair testing for heavy metals after the fact, but short of burning supplements and doing spectrographic analysis on the residue, what other methods would be good to use? Simply asking the provider for proof of testing?

 

Any thoughts would be welcome!



#2 Dorian Grey

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 03:55 AM

I'm in California, & some of the turmeric (cheap stuff) has Prop-65 warnings but others (expensive stuff) does not.  This in the same shop, so I would expect consistent compliance.  

 

I also buy IP6 from iherb, & there is no Prop-65 warning on the main page, but when I type in my address, the California address triggers the Prop-65 on checkout.  

 

Do all of the rhodiola supps in your shops contain Prop-65 warning, or only some of them?   If you can't get rhodiola without the warning in CA, I'm betting most everything you'll find will contain "some" lead.  Your California address my trigger the warning on checkout if you're dealing with a reputable company, but my guess is supps from China/Russia probably will simply not comply.  

 

We had someone post a website from a testing firm a while back that listed the levels of contamination in quite a few different supps.  Wish to heck I would have written it down somewhere but I didn't.  A little detective work might have it turn up on google.  Please share it if you find it!  


Edited by Dorian Grey, 03 September 2018 - 03:57 AM.


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#3 Dorian Grey

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 04:03 AM

Ahh...  Bingo!  

 

https://www.consumerlab.com/

 

Looks like they want you to pay to play, but they apparently have a free newsletter that might contain some valuable clues.  

 

$2.88/month for 24 months (billed at $69.00) — 18% Savings!  BestValueBurst.png  $3.50/month for 12 months (billed at $42.00)    All 24 and 12 month memberships auto-renew. At any time, you may cancel or select to not auto-renew.
  Option 2 — Non-member Access to this ONE report only  $22 for only ONE product review/report (30 day view period)

 

*** Group subscriptions are available ***  Interesting!  

 


Edited by Dorian Grey, 03 September 2018 - 04:11 AM.


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#4 Dorian Grey

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 04:19 AM

In researching the arsenic content of IP6, I found Jarrow sources their IP6 from Tsuno Foods (Japan), & a bit of digging uncovered Tsuno's analysis which showed minimal arsenic (much lower than allowed in American tap water). 

 

I also found American rice has much higher arsenic content, due to soil content and irrigation/pesticide methods.  When Jarrow IP6 was on back order, I found Swanson brand IP6 available, but when I asked about their source, they refused to say, but did admit it was not Tsuno (which I considered a red flag).

 

There may be work-arounds like this for other herbals, but you need to put on your deerstalker hat & make like Sherlock Holmes.  

 

Best of Luck!  


Edited by Dorian Grey, 03 September 2018 - 04:23 AM.


#5 adastra

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 06:31 PM

Thank you so much Dorian Grey!  I would actually be interested in that group subscription to consumerlab.com, though there is a minimum requirement of five people. Hmm. I will give their website a closer read soon. 

 

To answer your question, I get the Prop-65 warning when I go to Starwest Botanicals eleuthero product site. I don't live in California, but it still comes up. I have shot off a bunch of emails to various suppliers, including Starwest, and will see what they come up with. I'll post again here with anything useful in a bit. 

 

Thanks again!  And for anyone else reading this who may be interested in a group subscription to that supplement testing service, please do let me know. :-)



#6 Vlad

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 11:21 AM

The only way to know if the vendor is telling the truth about the safety of their products is to ask them for an actual test report that shows the levels of the heavy metals (incl. caesium, strontium and uranium, which are everywhere in N-America in particular thanks to the Fukushima fallout.).  

 

Imported stuff incl. Chinese supplements are tested when entering the country. They should meet FDA and EFSA requirements or will be destroyed. China itself is also very strict about this, all exported stuff needs to meet certain standards. Just imagine the shit storm that would develop if it could be proven that Chinese dietary supplements / raw ingredients were in general unsafe !  They economic after-effects would be huge, and they can't afford that. 

 

In general i've come to the conclusion the talk about 'contaminated Chinese supplements' is usually spread by marketeers/vendors that are indirectly promoting their own stuff. I've never seen actual proof of their claims and yes I did ask them.

 

Companies like Host Defense and Aloha Medicinals (both sell mushroom supplements) use 'no ingredients from China' as a marketing strategy but won't show you actual proof of their claims about contamination. They also won't show you objective lab tests of their own products. You're lucky to get a "Technical Data Sheet' which is definitly not proof. Everybody with a wordprocessor can produce that. Every vendor should have objective test reports, if they don't want to share it with you I'd say that's a red flag. H

 

Another thing which caught my attention recently: USDA-organic does not mean it is safe, better or contains a low level of heavy metals. It's only about pesticides. Heavy metals are not tested for. Many vendors use USDA-organic as a marketing strategy, but it means little.

 

Prop 65 requires a warning label on any product containing a single chemical from their list of over 800 compounds, but does not require companies to disclose the actual chemical or amount of chemical present. The standards are so strict that many common fruits and vegetables can't meet the requirements so they are made exempt. After all, you can't label every Brussels sprout or cucumber. Breathing on the street in L.A. would be outlawed if that would be subject to Prop 65 standards. The whole Prop 65 standard is considered useless and ineffective by many experts. It creates unnecessary fear.

 

https://oag.ca.gov/prop65/faq


Edited by Vlad, 09 September 2018 - 11:23 AM.

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#7 adastra

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 06:29 PM

An overdue update for all: 

 

Now Foods got back to me describing an in-house testing system they seem to have for all their newly arrived supplements. The description seemed impressive enough. However, after asking them to kindly provide me with a document detailing test results on a sample of their eleuthero, the communication lapsed. (Update: just today, though, they got back to me. However, they typed out the toxin testing results by hand, which is unimpressive).

 

However, Starwest Botanicals, while it took longer to get back to me, immediately supplied me with a certificate of analysis detailing levels of arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium, as well as microbial measures such as total aerobic plate count, yeasts and molds, salmonella and e.coli. 

 

The lead level was 1.17 ppm. I did some mental calculations assuming a lead half-life of roughly 36 days in the body. It turns out that if one starts with a low-ish blood level of lead at 2 micrograms per deciliter of blood, then reaching a steady state of taking about 0.5 g of this eleuthero per day regularly one's blood lead level would go up by 3-4%.  This seems acceptable to me, especially as one can also take smaller doses and skip days or weeks when taking adaptogens. Also, taking calcium, zinc, or iron when ingesting lead inhibits the lead's aborption. 

 

Now, per what Vlad said, there have certainly been cases of pills and children's toys imported from China having highly exorbitant amounts of lead in particular, so trusting the Chinese process of testing alone would seem foolhardy.

 

On the topic of the radioactive elements, Vlad, do you mean to say that the radioactive elements deposited from Fukushima should concern North American consumers?  Or even, should they concern Japanese or other consumers?  Have there been studies delving into this? I had assumed that the deposition was in trace amounts, diluted by the oceans. 



#8 Vlad

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Posted 28 October 2018 - 04:10 PM

 

On the topic of the radioactive elements, Vlad, do you mean to say that the radioactive elements deposited from Fukushima should concern North American consumers?  Or even, should they concern Japanese or other consumers?  Have there been studies delving into this? I had assumed that the deposition was in trace amounts, diluted by the oceans. 

 

 

 It is the fallout that was carried towards the N-American continent by the jet-streams, not the stuff that leaked into the ocean. It is something to take into account I think, like when you go hunting for edible mushrooms in the forest, just an example. Mushrooms i.p. accumulate heavy metals and radioactive isotopes are heavy metals. Cesium, strontium.

 

See this dedicated site: http://cerea.enpc.fr...hima/index.html complete with a map showing the spread of the fallout



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#9 GABAergic

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 10:25 PM

so whats the point of taking any supplement in the belief it might make you feel better and prolong your life somehow when all the toxins and heavy metals naturally present in all food items and herbal things out there will accumulate in your body over time to such a degree it will take your lifetime to get rid of. why not just avoid taking supplements all together unless you need vitamins and minerals you might be deficient in. i just cant see the point of taking something like eleuthero for example. its not going to drastically change your life and over time you are just adding more unneeded heavy metals to your body. while most natural antioxidants are hardly bioavailable and it takes 1-2 hours to clear out of the system, some of those toxic compounds present in there will take years! so why bother??



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