A Deeper Look at Heavy Metal Testing Kratom
Siesta Botanicals is dedicated to ensuring that our customers receive only top-quality botanicals. All of our kratom strains are tested at an independent lab for heavy metals (mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic), E. coli, and salmonella. You can find more information on these specific contaminants in our blog.
Why Test at All?
In a perfect world, there would be zero tolerance for harmful elements, such as lead and mercury, in our food, water, herbs, and supplements, but unfortunately, these compounds exist in the Earth’s soil, water and air. And many plants can readily absorb these metals. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to test our kratom for a variety of contaminants and make sure they are at safe levels.
Why Independent Testing?
In Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal (IMCJ), Rick Liva, ND, RPh, from Temple University School of Pharmacy writes an informative article titled “Facing the Problem of Dietary-Supplement Heavy-Metal Contamination: How to Take Responsible Action” in which he explains why and how herbal supplements should be tested independently for heavy metals.
“The company manufacturing the product must independently test the material—at least for lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic, with the limit of detection at around 10–20 parts per billion (ppb). Clinicians should also know how to perform the necessary calculations to evaluate the toxicity data they receive from manufacturers,” writes Liva.
“We cannot depend upon the government or other regulatory bodies to protect us. Incredibly, there is no official authoritative agreement on the safe levels of heavy metal ingestion. The State of California says one thing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says another, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has limits for water only, the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) has its own standards, and all are different from each other,” he writes.
“To the best of our ability, we must evaluate the heavy metal toxicity ourselves. We can make this evaluation only by holding our manufacturers accountable for independent testing of the products we purchase from them.”
The Math Can Get Tricky
Importantly, the dose or serving size of an herb or supplement should be taken into account, as well as how much product an individual person chooses to consume in a day or a week or a lifetime. For example, if two people buy the same batch of green tea that has 2.5 micrograms (μg) of lead per serving, then clearly the one who drinks one cup a day would have less of a toxic load than the one who drinks six cups a day — even if the amount of lead is the same in each serving.
In the IMCJ paper, Liva explains how important it is to analyze the toxic load based on the possible highest daily dose. For example, a manufacturer may test two of his supplier’s raw materials for lead — in this case, he gives the examples of policosanol (a dietary supplement is commonly taken for leg pain due to poor blood circulation) and Schisandra Chinensis extract (traditional Chinese medicine).
A typical daily dose of policosanol might be 20 mg and of Schisandra extract 2,000 mg. If each ingredient tests at 4 parts per million (ppm) of lead, the ingested amount of lead coming from policosanol is 0.08 μg/day, but the amount coming from the Schisandra extract is 8 μg/day—a full 100 times more. This is despite the fact that both raw materials have the same level of contamination at 4 ppm.
Are Some Testing Methods Better Than Others?
According to Liva, the most important factors when testing for heavy metals include identifying the specific levels of individual heavy metals as well as finding the limit of detection (LOD). “The lower the LOD, the better. Currently, available technology affords LODs in the 10–20 ppb (that is billion) range, which is most desirable,” he writes.
Inadequate or Less-desirable methods
One less-desirable method for testing herbal supplements is the USP Method #231. This method does not differentiate one heavy metal from another, and in fact, groups all heavy metals together as “lead.” In addition, its LOD is 5-10 ppm (about 1,000 times too high to be of value).
Another less-desirable testing method, though slightly better than the USP Method #231, is the ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry). While this test can screen for multiple elements at trace levels, it is still not effective enough as it has inherent problems that can positively or negatively affect the analysis results.
Adequate Testing Methods
- Mercury: Cold-vapor atomic-absorption method (LOD 5–25 ppb).
- Lead: Graphite-furnace atomic-absorption method (LOD 10–50 ppb).
- Arsenic: Hydride-generation atomic-absorption method (LOD 10–50 ppb).
- Cadmium: Graphite-furnace atomic-absorption method (LOD 5–20 ppb).
- Multiple metals: ICP mass spectrometry. This method can test for several metals at once and has a very low LOD (around 10-20 ppb).
Referring to ICP mass spectrometry, Liva says “This is my preferred methodology and the one on which I generally rely, as it offers a high specificity and the lowest analysis cost when screening for multiple heavy metal elements.”
Accepted Standards of Heavy Metal Toxicity for Ingested Products
California Proposition 65 Daily Limits for Heavy Metal Consumption:
- Lead 0.5 mcg (μg)
- Arsenic 10 mcg (μg)
- Cadmium 4.1 mcg (μg)
FDA Tolerable Daily Diet Lead Intake:
- Adults 75 mcg (μg)
United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Limit for Nutritional Supplements:
- Lead 10 ppm
- Arsenic 3 ppm
- Cadmium 3 ppm
- Mercury 3 ppm
Greater Accountability Among American Kratom Vendors
In 2019, the American Kratom Association introduced the Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA), a bill designed to increase kratom vendor accountability through stricter product quality and labeling requirements.
The AKA has set a goal for the upcoming 2020 legislative sessions to secure passage in 21 additional states for the KCPA, bringing the total to 25 states who have enacted consumer protections for kratom consumers.
Siesta Botanicals is Dedicated to Quality Kratom
In addition to independent lab testing, the owners of Siesta Botanicals traveled to Indonesia to personally inspect our facilities and farms to observe their growing, harvesting and storing practices. They were able to witness firsthand the quality of the product before purchasing anything to sell directly to the customer. As an added bonus, Daniel, one of the owners of Siesta Botanicals, is also certified in quality management for government contracting.
You can rest assured you’ll be getting the best of the best when you order your kratom powder from Siesta Botanicals. Check out our full selection of tested kratom powder here.