The Health Department today warned New York City residents about a Chinese herbal dietary supplement known as Emperor’s Tea Pill. The product, which can be purchased over the counter from Harlem to Hollis in New York, can cause serious adverse health effects. Emperor’s Tea Pill can have levels of lead and mercury as high as 200 times the permissible limit. The Health Department reminds consumers that some imported health remedies can contain high levels of heavy metals. The agency continues to identify lead poisoning cases associated with the use of imported dietary supplements that may be available by prescription or over the counter.
According to the product packaging, Emperor’s Tea Pill, manufactured in China by Lanzhou Traditional Herbs, could be used to “help maintain the body’s natural balance.” The levels of heavy metals found in this product ranged from being slightly elevated with up to 3.7 parts per million (ppm) lead, which is approximately two times the permissible limit for lead for certain food additives, to 200 ppm mercury, which is 200 times the permissible limit for mercury. Product labeling recommends a dosage of 24 pills (3.84 grams) of the product daily. The recommended dosage further increases the risk of adverse health effects in people who regularly use products found to contain high levels of heavy metals. Exposure to lead and other heavy metals can damage the brain, kidneys, and nervous and reproductive systems.
The Health Department has sent an alert to health care providers in New York City, asking them to test patients who report using these products for lead poisoning and other heavy metals and report possible cases of lead or mercury poisoning to the New York City Poison Control Center (212-POISONS). The Health Department has also issued a Commissioner’s Order to require distributors and store owners to stop selling these products and remove them from shelves and inventory stockrooms.
Resources regarding “Lead Poisoning” and “Mercury Poisoning” are available at our Hazardous Consumer Products page.