Ayurveda information for consumers and therapists
The magazine “Spiegel“ recently reported that a 55 year old woman had been poisoned heavily with mercury and lead found in contaminated Ayurvedic products. These were prescribed to her in a Sri Lankan spa hotel and were carried home for further intake. This incident shows that medicinal assurance of quality standards is a basic issue in Asia.
Since many years the VEAT (Federation of European Ayurvedic Doctors and Therapists), the VSAMT/ASMTA (Federation of Swiss Ayurvedic Doctors and Therapists) as well as the leading Swiss schools for Ayurveda (especially the European Academy for Ayurveda and the SAMA-Swiss Ayurvedic Medical Academy) have been standing for a clear criteria concerning the quality in remedies and nutrition additives in order to avoid such risks.
In Switzerland control of medicines is done by Swissmedic (Swiss Institute for remedies). Some Ayurvedic herbs are available as nutrition additives and so are to be judged by food law which operates with exactly defined directives: there are obvious limits for heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury) and pesticides (bacteria, yeast, mold, salmonella, aflatoxins). Any manufacturer from Switzerland has to take care that the limits are not violated by his products.
Likewise, the Indian Ayurvedic producers were forced by the Indian government to be certified according to the GMP-limits.
As Indian and Sri Lankan consequent quality assurance cannot be granted fully, the products imported should be checked by European inspecting authorities and labelled accordingly.
Anyone who searches treatment in India or other emerging or developing countries should be aware of certain risks that go along with Ayurvedic as well as other western medicines taken in or bought there.
The original carton may contain, for example, ineffective or even contaminated substances. Reasons for this are:
“The enormous demand for Ayurvedic preparations has led to uncontrolled production processes of individual Indian farmers who do not adhere to the traditional rules regarding the preparation and do not consistently examine the quality of raw materials. The crude drugs (e.g., sprawl quality) are affected by the ongoing pollution in India.”
At least here the question arises: Who will take responsibility for developing health problems?
Individuals are solely responsible for themselves. This applies not only when from developing and emerging countries products are brought, but in Europe for internet purchases, too. For personal use you can basically order anything (unless it is explicitly forbidden). However, liability may be extremely difficult to recover at foreign producers or distributors (outside the EU).
Therapists can possibly be middlemen and when it comes to remedies or dietary supplements, authorization is needed. Here we have cantonal and federal regulations, which have to be asked for and to which one must adhere as a therapist. A therapist should never – not even for friends or acquaintances – bring drugs from abroad, as he can be made responsible for it.
For any therapist, it is required to use only medicinal and dietary supplements which comply with the applicable benchmarks and quality regulations and are approved in Switzerland besides being marketable.
For every consumer it is valid that spas in Europe that use certified and tested laboratory products currently offer the greatest possible safety.
When traveling abroad get exact information about the resort, the risk is on your side. For Europe or Switzerland: Ayurvedic preparations, although they are marked as food supplements should never be taken on one´s own initiative. They are part of a treatment concept, which is created by a qualified Ayurveda practitioner in accordance with the relevant constitution. Use only preparations by appropriate quality labels that secure product quality, for example:
- ISO 9000 – the European standard for quality assurance
- HACCP – concept for food hygiene in production plants
- GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) – international regulations for securing the Quality of Medicines
- Organic Certification