Abstract

Heavy metal contamination of herbal medicinal products and cosmetics: A course for concern

Increasing numbers of people in the developed and developing countries use herbal medicinal products (HMPs). This is based on the wide misconception that HMPs are 'natural' means that they are 'safe'. More brands of HMPs are being introduced into the developing countries including Nigeria in the form of 'supplements'. Globally, there are warnings regarding the possible toxicity, adverse reaction and contamination or adulteration of HMPs. There is an urgent need for the regulation and control of the efficacy and safety, as well as quality control in the production of these products. The aim of this article is to review published data on the adverse effects, contamination and adulteration of HMPs and local cosmetics. There are increasing incidences of heavy metal contamination and adulteration of HMPs with pharmaceutical drugs and human poisoning from consumption of these products. Also of concern is heavy metal contamination of local cosmetics. Legislations to control safety and efficacy in HMP production are lacking in many countries while products testing and quality control, are rarely adhered to. Nonadherence to standards for purity and potency increases the possibility for drug-herb, herb-herb interactions as well as consumers reactions to contaminants. HMPs, as with other products intended for human use, should be incorporated within a regulatory framework. These products should be governed by standards of safety, quality, and efficacy that are equivalent to those required for other pharmaceutical products.


Author(s): Nnorom Innocent Chidi

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