Protect Your Family From “High-Risk Spices”

Humans have been using herbs and spices to season food and improve health for tens of thousands of years.

Evidence shows that our pre-historic hunter-gatherer ancestors improved the flavor of their roasted meat and fish with a hot mustard spice almost 9,000 years ago.1

Using herbs and spices for their healing properties dates back even further.

A study found that Neanderthals living in Spain more than 40,000 years ago treated their dental infections and stomach aches with plants that contained painkillers and antibiotics.2

And of course, Hippocrates – known as the father of western medicine – famously wrote, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

This advice holds true today, even more than ever.

As a regular reader, you know I almost always use Mother Nature’s healing plants over Big Pharma’s synthetic drugs. Herbs and spices can treat every condition known to man, including:

  • Cinnamon and bitter melon for blood sugar control
  • Holy basil to tamp down inflammation
  • Anamu and astragalus to strengthen immunity
  • Curcumin to relieve aching joints and enhance memory
  • Hemp to improve sleep

That’s why I was so dismayed to read a new study that found certain herbs and spices can actually harm your health.

Now, it’s not the plants themselves… It’s contamination due to heavy metal exposure.

This alarming study looked at 15 different kinds of dried herbs and spices – over 125 brands. The researchers found that nearly one-third of the seasonings they tested had dangerous levels of heavy metals like lead, arsenic, or cadmium.

Also disturbing was that this contamination was found across brand-name products, organic products, and products packaged in the U.S.3

And despite what the EPA tells us, there is no safe level of heavy metal exposure. Your body can’t break these metals down easily, which allows them to build up in your body.

This toxicity leads to the development of oxidative stress. As blood levels of lead and other metals increase, this oxidative stress results in autophagy – or cell death.4

Research shows lead exposure can dramatically increase your risk of developing heart disease, Alzheimer’s, immune system dysfunction, and cancers of the liver, kidneys, lungs, and brain.5,6

Unfortunately, heavy metal poisoning sneaks up on you over time, so symptoms are often overlooked by traditional doctors. Some of these extremely vague symptoms include anxiety, hypertension, joint pain, memory loss, fatigue, constipation, headaches, abdominal pain, insomnia, and kidney dysfunction.

How Did They Get There?

So how do heavy metals get into herbs and spices in the first place?

In many instances, it occurs during the manufacturing process, either by accident or to boost the color of the spice to make it look better and brighter.7 This is especially common in curcumin products.

But the primary way heavy metals get into herbs and spices is through absorption from the soil and water the plants are grown in.

In fact, two-thirds of farmland worldwide contain dangerous levels of one or more environmental toxins. And almost one-third had pesticide levels more than 1,000 times what’s considered “acceptable.”8

Despite this, I wholeheartedly believe that using medicinal herbs and spices is far superior to Big Pharma’s drugs.

There is a reason these herbs and spices have been used for thousands of years; they work.

And they make our food more enjoyable. And while there is no way to avoid all the toxins and pesticides in our world, the good news is that there are many ways to enhance your health with these herbs and spices without increasing your toxic burden.

Protect Yourself And Your Family

Here’s what I recommend when it comes to using herbs and spices safely:

    1. Stay away from these store-bought herbs. I don’t recommend using dried oregano or thyme because 100% of the brands tested positive for toxins. And only one brand of basil and ginger, Simply Organic, got the green light from the researchers.
    2. Stick with spices and herbs that have a low-risk profile. Feel free to use as much of these as you want…black pepper, chili pepper, coriander, curry powder, garlic powder, saffron, sesame seeds, and white pepper.
    3. Choose spices and herbs that are GROWN in the USA. Manufacturers try to hide where their products originated by labeling them “packaged in the USA.” That tells you nothing about how it was grown and where. If possible, purchase directly from a local farm. I like being able to talk to a grower who can tell you exactly how they grow their product. Look for those that are using organic or sustainable methods.
    4. Grow your own herbs and spices. Luckily, these kinds of plants are easy to grow in pots – on a windowsill, in your garden, and on the patio or porch. If you want to dry them for future use, put them stem-side up in a dry paper bag. Close the top, poke a few holes for ventilation, and hang in a well-ventilated room for a week or two. When fully dried, store in a glass jar with a tight lid.
    5. Know where your herbal supplements come from. Earlier research found that herbal remedies from some supplement makers surpassed the safe daily consumption limit for arsenic. About 2% had excess lead, cadmium, and aluminum. And 1% had far too much mercury.9

A blood test is the only way to diagnose lead poisoning.

Here at the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine, we test patients regularly for heavy metal toxicity. And patients are always shocked by the results.

If you’re interested in getting tested – and treated with IV chelation to get the lead out – please call 561-784-7852.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD, CNS



1. Saul H, et al. “Phytoliths in pottery reveal the use of spice in European prehistoric cuisine.” PLoS One. 2013; 8(8):e70583.
2. Calloway E. “Neanderthal tooth plaque hints at meals – and kisses.” Nature. 2017;543(163).
4. Wei Qu, et al. “Effects of oxidative stress on blood pressure and electrocardiogram findings in workers with occupational exposure to lead.” J Int Med Res. 2019 Jun; 47(6): 2461–2470.
5. Fuller-Thomson E, and Deng Z. “Could Lifetime Lead Exposure Play a Role in Limbic-predominant Age-related TDP-43 Encephalopathy (LATE)?” J Alzheimers Dis. 2020;73(2):455-459.
6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Toxicological profile for lead.” 2020. Accessed October 29, 2020.
7. Forsythe JE, et al. “Turmeric means ‘yellow’ in Bengali: lead chromate pigments added to turmeric threaten public health across Bangladesh.” Environmental Res. 2019;179: 108722.
8. Tang, FH et al. “Risk of pesticide pollution at the global scale.” Nature Geoscience. 2021;14(4): 206-210.
9. Genuis S, et al. “Toxic element contamination of natural health products and pharmaceutical preparations.” PLoS One. 2012.