Heavy metal content of commonly consumed herbal bitters in Ilorin, Nigeria

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West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacy


Background: The use of herbal medicines has increased in recent years and has gained much attention in the health sectors, scientific community and the public alike. The safety and quality of these products become questionable even when the efficacy and potency may be guaranteed. Objective: The presence of heavy metals was determined. Methods: Two batches of five herbal bitters were purchased from different parts of Ilorin. Samples were prepared from these batches and analyzed for the presence of Cadmium (Cd), Iron (Fe) and Lead (Pb) using Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer. Their concentrations were compared with WHO permissible limits. The variations in the concentration of Cd, Fe, and Pb in the two batches of samples were also determined at P < 0.05. Results: The value of Cd ranged from 0.003-0.3mg/L, Pb 0.000-0.067mg/L and Fe 0.083-0.27mg/L. This study revealed that majority of the samples contained Cd and Pb in concentrations significantly lower than the permissible limits. However, the two batches of herbal bitters contained Fe with concentrations significantly higher than the official permissible limit of 0.1mg/L. Conclusion: The results obtained from this study showed that Iron was present in all the samples with some concentrations significantly higher than the WHO permissible limit. Lead and cadmium were present in some of the samples with concentrations below the WHO permissible limit.



Herbal bitters, Lead, Cadmium, Iron, Atomic absorption Spectrophotometer