FDA warns of lead and arsenic in Nzu, a traditional morning sickness remedy

The FDA and the Texas Department of State Health Services have notified healthcare professionals and consumers, especially pregnant or nursing women, to avoid consuming a traditional morning sickness remedy called “Nzu,” because of high levels of lead and arsenic found during laboratory analysis. Exposure to lead can result in harmful effects, and a developing child is particularly at risk of effects on the brain and nervous system. Arsenic is a carcinogen, and excessive long-term exposure has been associated with adverse health effects, including cancers of the urinary bladder, lung and skin.

Nzu, which is sold at African specialty stores, is also called Calabash clay, Calabar stone, Mabele, Argile and La Craie. It generally resembles balls of clay or mud and is usually sold in small plastic bags with a handwritten label identifying it as “Nzu” or “Salted Nzu.”

Consumers who have been ingesting Nzu should contact their healthcare provider.

For more information visit www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm196045.htm.