Lead, Mercury, and Arsenic Among those Found, According to Analysis by SupplementDB.orgHeavy metals from industrial runoff contaminate a river in India, where most Ashwagandha sold in the United States is grown.
Ashwagandha, an ayurvedic herb which has adaptogenic properties, has grown more than 20-fold in popularity in the United States since 2008. Despite this, a recent review by Supplement Database has found that at least 1 in 5 ashwagandha supplements contain toxic levels of lead, mercury, and arsenic.
SupplementDB.org, a startup which aims to be “the WebMD of dietary supplements”, published a meta-analysis of studies done between 1990 and 2018. Levels of heavy metals in ashwagandha sold in the USA have steadily and consistently fallen from 50% in 1990 to ~21% today. The most recent test included in the meta-analysis found one in five of over 200 samples tested exceeded health and safety limits for arsenic, lead or mercury, despite 75% claiming GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certification.
“Consumers have the right to know what they are ingesting. The issues we see aren’t just limited to heavy metal contamination. We’ve identified products currently on shelves which contain barely half the amount of active withanolides claimed on the label.” Michael Phillips of Supplement Database added.
Data collection and analysis was conducted by a diverse team, including faculty of Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center. Products were sourced both online and from physical retail stores across the country.