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Springerplus. 2013 Dec 17;2:676. doi: 10.1186/2193-1801-2-676. eCollection 2013.

Investigation of heavy metals in frequently utilized medicinal plants collected from environmentally diverse locations of north western India.

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Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur, Rajasthan 342003 India.
Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, 125001 India.
Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute, Library Avenue, Pusa New Delhi, India.


The increasing prevalence of environmental pollution, especially soil contamination with heavy metals has led to their uptake in the human food chains through plant parts. Accumulation and magnification of heavy metals in human tissues through consumption of herbal remedies can cause hazardous impacts on health. Therefore, chemical profiling of nine heavy metals (Mn, Cr, Pb, Fe, Cd, Co, Zn, Ni and Hg) was undertaken in stem and leaf samples of ten medicinal plants (Acacia nilotica, Bacopa monnieri, Commiphora wightii, Ficus religiosa, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Hemidesmus indicus, Salvadora oleoides, Terminalia bellirica, Terminalia chebula and Withania somnifera) collected from environmentally diverse regions of Haryana and Rajasthan states in North-Western India. Concentration of all heavy metals, except Cr, was within permissible limits in the tested stem and leaf samples. Leaf samples had consistently more Cr compared to respective stem samples with highest concentration in leaf samples of Bacopa monnieri (13.19 ± 0.0480 ppm) and stem samples of Withania somnifera (4.93 ± 0.0185 ppm) both collected from Bahadurgarh (heavy industrial area), Haryana. This amount was beyond the permissible limit of 2.0 ppm defined by WHO for raw herbal material. Other two most perilous metals Pb (2.64 ± 0.0260) and Cd (0.04 ± 0.0274) were also recorded in Bahadurgarh region, although below permissible limits. Concentration of Hg remained below detectable levels in all the leaf and stem samples tested. These results suggested that cultivation of medicinal plants and other dietary herbs should be curtailed near environmentally polluted especially industrial areas for avoidance of health hazards.


AAS; Heavy metals; Herbal plants; Soil pollution; Toxicity

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