Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional form of Indian healing, often uses heavy metals in many of its medicinal products because of their reputed therapeutic values. However, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that some of these products may contain a high proportion of lead, mercury, and arsenic and may pose health risks for consumers. While the 70 products that were tested originated from 27 different companies, most were created in either India or Thailand.
Last year, while rearranging the paintings in her living room, Cathy Crystal noticed black smudges on the walls around the frames. Baffled, she looked around and discovered similar “ghostings” surrounding the electrical outlets and air conditioning vents. “We don’t allow smoking in our house, and we have a vent over the stove,” recalls the herbalist and nutritionist in Santa Cruz, Calif., “so it didn’t make sense.” It wasn’t until a week later, while lighting a constellation of votive candles on the mantle for an evening soiree, that the source of the soot suddenly dawned on her.