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Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Year: 2019  |  Volume: 14  |  Issue: 3 SI  |  Page No.: 6052 - 6056

Heavy Metals Content in Traditional Medicines Sold in the Local Market of Sarawak and Online Shopping Platform in Malaysia

Nurhafizah Mohd. Selihin, Dayang Hazira Izzati Abang Jamil, Farnadia Taip, Abdul Hadi Mohd Yussof and Nur Fadhilah Ishak    

Abstract: Traditional medicine has been widely used all around the world, since, ancient times. This medicine might be accidentally contaminated with heavy metals during the preparation or intentionally added into the medicine as it is believed to cure diseases. Exposures to heavy metals can greatly affect important organs like the brain, kidney, heart and lungs. Heavy metals (Pb, Ni, Cr, As and Cu) were analyzed in twenty nine samples (n = 29) of traditional medicines mainly Malay traditional medicine, Indonesian traditional medicine, Chinese traditional medicine and Ayurveda traditional medicine that were purchased from the local market and online shopping platform in Malaysia. Wet digestion method was used prior to the analysis of metal using flame atomic absorption spectroscopy (Shimadzu AA-7000). The result showed the highest concentrations of Pb, Ni and Cr in tablet/capsule form of Ayurvedic sample at (38.54±4.03 mg/kg), (26.59±3.43 mg/kg) and (371.06±3.10 mg/kg), respectively. In green tea samples, the digested tea leaves showed high Pb (10.44±0.0001 mg/kg) and Cu (17.22±0.0000 mg/kg) but low Cd (0.04±0.0001 mg/kg) content. Meanwhile, spices showed moderate concentrations of As, Cr and Ni with (0.446±0.014), (0.689±0.003) and (0.476±0.007), respectively. Some of these samples showed metal concentrations above the standard limit set by World Health Organization (WHO), Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) and ASEAN. Traditional medicine products should be monitored, especially, the unregistered products that are readily sold in the local market and online stores. It is important for the public to be aware of the consequences from consuming these medicines.

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