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How NOT to help your lungs: natural medicine with lead

May 3, 2010 |  9:34 am

The FDA is warning consumers not to buy or consume a product called Vita Breath after a sample of the product was shown to contain 10,000 times the recommended limit for lead in candy. Vita Breath is marketed as an herbal supplement for people with asthma. It "supports healthy Lung Energy and Respiratory system," according to the website selling it (for $65 a bottle of 60 -- roughly a month's supply).

The New York Department of Health and Mental Hygeine conducted the first test of Vita Breath after a patient turned up with lead poisoning in New York and reported taking it and two other herbal supplements. The FDA says it has obtained samples of the product and is testing them.

Vita Breath is manufactured by American Herbal Lab Inc. of Rosemead, Calif., and it's marketed on the Internet and at health fairs around the country. The FDA recommends that anyone who has taken the product — especially children, who are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning — get tested. Lead poisoning doesn't always show symptoms but can damage internal organs and the nervous system over time. But stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and bloody or decreased urine output all are signs of acute poisoning.

— Melissa Healy