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Preserving identity or promoting safety? The issue of Mercury in Siddha Medicine: a brake on the crossing of frontiers


Sébastia, Brigitte (2015). Preserving identity or promoting safety? The issue of Mercury in Siddha Medicine: a brake on the crossing of frontiers. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 69(4):933-969.

Abstract

Since the publication of a sanitary alert on the toxicity of ayurvedic products by Robert B. Saper and colleagues in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2004, the image of ayurveda as a safe alternative or complement to biomedicine has sharply deteriorated in North America and Europe. In reaction, some western countries have forbidden the import of the herbal products denounced by Saper and colleagues’ warning, and the Government of India has taken measures to implement its rules on their production to ensure the full safety of the products intended for both export and national markets. This seriously hinders the export of siddha remedies as they may contain metals, mercury being one of their iconic ingredients. It has also created problems for their production, as the companies that manufacture siddha products are, in general, less developed than their ayurvedic counterparts. I will discuss this event and its impact on regulations in Europe, the United States and Canada and in India in the first part of this chapter. In the second part, I will explore the ideological and spiritual position of siddha medicine and its relation to iatrochemistry in order to comprehend why it has the reputation of a metal- and mineral-based medicine, and in particular, a mercury-based medicine. The third part, based on research conducted in 2007 on private and governmental siddha firms and the traditional siddha milieu throughout Tamil Nadu, will focus on the production of siddha medicaments and their marketing, as well as on the diverse means by which they cross frontiers for consumption abroad.

Abstract

Since the publication of a sanitary alert on the toxicity of ayurvedic products by Robert B. Saper and colleagues in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2004, the image of ayurveda as a safe alternative or complement to biomedicine has sharply deteriorated in North America and Europe. In reaction, some western countries have forbidden the import of the herbal products denounced by Saper and colleagues’ warning, and the Government of India has taken measures to implement its rules on their production to ensure the full safety of the products intended for both export and national markets. This seriously hinders the export of siddha remedies as they may contain metals, mercury being one of their iconic ingredients. It has also created problems for their production, as the companies that manufacture siddha products are, in general, less developed than their ayurvedic counterparts. I will discuss this event and its impact on regulations in Europe, the United States and Canada and in India in the first part of this chapter. In the second part, I will explore the ideological and spiritual position of siddha medicine and its relation to iatrochemistry in order to comprehend why it has the reputation of a metal- and mineral-based medicine, and in particular, a mercury-based medicine. The third part, based on research conducted in 2007 on private and governmental siddha firms and the traditional siddha milieu throughout Tamil Nadu, will focus on the production of siddha medicaments and their marketing, as well as on the diverse means by which they cross frontiers for consumption abroad.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 69 (2015) > 4
Dewey Decimal Classification:Unspecified
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:23 Jan 2017 10:33
Last Modified:14 Feb 2018 11:31
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:0004-4717
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/asia-2015-1043

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