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When you think of arsenic, you think of poison, right? Arsenic is a trace element found in several foods you eat every day and some forms of it are actually used as medicine. It’s estimated that the average adult takes in 12 - 50 mcgs of arsenic each day.
Arsenic is a tasteless, odorless metalloid element that’s used in herbicides, pesticides, wood preservers, and fertilizers. Toxicologists report that chronic, high-level exposure to arsenic is linked to increased risk of some cancers and cardiovascular diseases. To date, there is limited research in existence regarding whether low levels of arsenic are eventually harmful.

Homeopathic Remedies - What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet?

When you take too much of a natural medicine, you could get arsenic poisoning. This can occur when you consume large amounts of arsenic for an extended period of time. Researchers have uncovered cases of arsenic poisoning reported with known homeopathic products and some kelp supplements. Some calcium supplements have measurable levels of arsenic in them, too. A recent U.S. study of 250 herbal products found that 36 of these contained detectable arsenic.

Despite serious health concerns, arsenic is often used as a diluted component in certain homeopathic remedies used for sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, allergies, digestive conditions, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In addition, some traditional Chinese medical formulas contain arsenic and these are used for asthma, cough, hemorrhoids, joint pain, psoriasis, and swelling. Doctors sometimes even give arsenic intravenously in the form of an anticancer agent to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia.

Chicken Products – Foul Play

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently reported in a press release that some chicken meat contains small amounts of arsenic but that this amount is not dangerous for the consumer. Apparently, there is an ingredient called Roxarsone in the chicken feed that contains arsenic. Roxarsone is ingested by the foul and it then makes its way to the parts of the chicken that we eat.

The FDA said that people should not stop eating chicken because the amount is so small that it won’t lead to any safety concerns. Regardless, Pfizer Inc., the company that makes the feed ingredient, has said that they will pull it off the market in the United States. Roxarsone has been a concerning issue for many environmental and consumer groups. These organizations have requested that the FDA ban other animal drugs that contain arsenic as well.

Rice – Not So Nice

According to research scientists, rice is the largest dietary source of inorganic arsenic. It is a known fact that inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen and eating it on a regular basis has been associated with increased risks of lung, skin, and bladder cancers. A recent study suggested that ingesting 3.5 ounces of uncooked rice is the maximum amount of arsenic allowed by federal limit and consumers should be concerned. While it is not clear how harmful these small amounts of arsenic in rice actually are, toxicology experts report that it would take decades for it to have some ill effect.

Drinking Water – H2 OH NO!

According to the FDA, there is a small amount of arsenic in your drinking water and inorganic arsenic in some water supplies is an actual public health concern. The FDA maintains that organic forms of arsenic are essentially harmless but the inorganic form is not. Healthcare professionals report that the safest water source is one from a spring or well and even that water should be tested periodically for harmful levels of arsenic.

Apple Juice – Not as Healthy as You Think

Inorganic forms of arsenic make their way into apple juice by way of contaminated water that is added in processing. What’s more, 400 million gallons of apple juice makes its way into the United States shipped from China, a country that is known to use arsenic-based pesticides and has high levels of arsenic in the soil base. Researchers suggest that all domestic and imported sources of apple juice should be tested continually and regularly to assure public safety.

Experts say that consumers should protect themselves by eating a wide variety of foods and switching brands frequently to minimize exposure from a single source of arsenic. Buying organic and washing foods thoroughly also helps. The government and public health organizations are aware of the arsenic in the water supply and are tightening up on the restrictions and regulations.