As Ayurveda continues to grow in popularity, Ayurvedic herbs, utilized in Ayurvedic treatments for more than 5,000 years, take center stage in today’s modern times. Ayurvedic remedies have been around about 4,900 years longer than pharmaceuticals, successfully treating everything from minor digestive disturbances to serious disorders. However, there has recently been growing concern over their safety, particularly the level of contaminants found in many herbs.
According to Dr. Virender Sodhi, CEO of Ayush Herbs, (manufacturer and exporter of high quality Ayurvedic herbal formulas, vitamins, minerals and enzymes) contamination of herbs can be attributed to many factors including: environmental pollution, soil contaminants, or specific type of herbs called Bhasmas, with an affinity for high levels of heavy metals such as mercury.
Ayush Herbs and its subsidiary R-U-VED Inc. follow stringent safety standards to ensure the quality and safety of their formulas.
Ayush: Rooted in Safety First
In order to obtain high quality, contaminant-free products for their Ayurvedic and naturopathic medical practices, Dr. Virender Sodhi and his brother Dr. Shailinder Sodhi, Ayurvedic MDs and naturopath physicians, along with brothers Dr. Tejinder Sodhi, DVM and Jitender Sodhi, established Ayush Herbs, Inc. in 1988, as they found it nearly impossible to find unadulterated products. Soon they began offering their herbal formulas to other physicians who were also looking for untainted herbs. “This is the founding principle of our company,” said Dr. Sodhi. “We absolutely must have full knowledge and confidence in our herbal products for the sake of our patients and our families. We check every batch for contaminants, following a stringent set of standards. Devising a set of standards was a learning process that developed over the years in cultivating, packaging, and shipping the herbs used in our formulas.”
Normal levels of contaminants in everyday foods
Dr. Sodhi explains that while it is important to supply and take uncontaminated herbs, many foods and beverages consumed on a regular basis contain acceptable levels of contaminants.
“One must be careful not to be overly influenced by negative media reports and studies on Ayurvedic herbs. Even drinking water contains small amounts of lead and arsenic. Similarly, small bacteriological and fungal contaminations are normal, and can be found in breads, jams and packaged foods. This has been the case for millions of years,” explained Sodhi.
What about Pharmaceuticals?
According to Dr. Sodhi we should consider the fact that we’ve been using man-made chemicals and pharmaceuticals for less than one hundred years, and may not know the real side effects of these drugs until a hundred years more. He went on to say that studies have shown that more people have had adverse reaction to pharmaceuticals than Ayurvedic herbs. “The third leading cause of death is prescription drugs,” he explained.
Safety Guidelines for Every Ayurvedic Herb Company
Dr. Sodhi emphasizes that it is important that Ayurvedic herbal companies follow good manufacturing practices (GMP), and are ISO (International Organization for Standardation) certified. Ayush takes it a step further by using herbal extracts in place of raw herbs to ensure product purity, as contamination can more easily occur with raw herbs. With its unique and verified extraction method, Ayush Herbs’ herbal preparations retain the active constituents to ensure the optimal benefits, while removing contaminants. Ayush Herbs’ standards for avoiding heavy metals exceed those of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Dr. Sodhi recommends that consumers choose formulas made by herbal companies that employ third-party testing of their products, and follow safety standards similar to Ayush’s eight-step process:
1. Collect Herbs from a clean environment. Ayush Herbs manufactures its products in its state-of-the art plant in Himachal Pradesh, India, an ISO and GMP approved facility.
2.Identify herbs using a thin layer chromatography to ensure consistent species of herbs. For example, turmeric has three hundred species and the active principals differ according to species.
3.Herbs should be subjected to organoleptic inspection through visual examination, feeling and smelling the products to confirm the specifications.
4.Conduct microbiological testing to ensure that the herbs do not contain harmful amounts of bacteria such as salmonella and fungus.
5.Extract herbs with state-of-the-art technology to maximize active principals, utilizing high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) or other methods.
6.Dry herbal extracts; either spray dried, oven dried, or freeze dried.
7.Inspect again for heavy metals (steps 3 and 4 – organoleptic inspection and microbiological testing), once the extracts are concentrated. An additional third party testing is performed on every one of Ayush’s formulations.
8.Hygienically pack every batch and tag a sample for future reference.