Morning sickness sucks. And if you want to make it even worse, pick up some calabash chalk. The FDA is now saying the traditional morning sickness remedy — also called nzu, poto, calabar stone, mabele, argile or la craie — has been found to contain lead and arsenic.
Usually sold in stores that sell African herbal remedies, calabash chalk is packed as large pellets or blocks in clear plastic bags that are often unlabeled.
“Using calabash chalk is unhealthy for pregnant women and their unborn children,” said Nancy Clark, assistant commissioner for the New York City Health Department’s Environmental Disease Prevention Bureau. “And the sale of these products is illegal.”
In New York City, the Health Department has ordered a halt to the sale and distribution of calabash chalk. Stores have been told to remove any currently available product from shelves and stockrooms. They are also being instructed to post warnings about the use of the product.
Anyone using the product should stop doing so immediately and should contact a doctor. They are also being advised to contact their local Poison Control Center.