[Posted 12/31/2009] The Texas Department of State Health Services and FDA notified healthcare professionals and consumers, especially pregnant or breastfeeding women, to avoid consuming a product called “Nzu”, taken as a traditional remedy for morning sickness,because of the potential health risks from high levels of lead and arsenic, noted on laboratory analysis by Texas DSHS. Exposure to lead can result in a number of 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 to it has been associated with a range of 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.” Anyone who has been ingesting the product should contact their health care provider.
Any adverse events that may be related to use should be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program online [at http://www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm%5D, by phone 1-800-332-1088, or by returning the postage-paid FDA form 3500 [which may be downloaded from the MedWatch “Download Forms” page] by mail [to address on the pre-addressed form] or fax [1-800-FDA-0178].
[December 23, 2009 – Press Release – Texas Department of State Health Services]