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Lead in traditional medicines

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

Editorial in the Center for Disease Control & Prevention's Jan. 22 Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report warns "traditional or folk remedies taken by persons for various ailments should be considered by health-care providers as possible sources of adult lead poisoning." Educational efforts "should be targeted toward ethnic communities known to use such folk remedies," CDC says. The comments stem from a report of a 33-year-old Cambodian woman with elevated blood lead levels of 42 mcg/dL as a result of taking "Koo Sar" or "Koo So" pills to alleviate menstrual cramps. On analysis of the pills, which are manufactured in Hong Kong and indicated "for general debility," the San Francisco Department of Public Health found lead levels ranging from .9 mcg/pill to 1.5 mcg/pill. The woman's blood lead levels dropped to 12 mcg/dL six months after she stopped taking the pills

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