penisol lead contamination

A Health Advisory issued by the Victorian State Government Department of Health warns of the potential for lead poisoning from Penisole, marketed as an Ayurvedic supplement in capsule form for ‘strengthening the male genitals’.

The Department is aware of at least one male user of the product, who had an elevated blood lead level.

Analysis of the product, which is not a listed or registered complementary medicine in Australia, revealed lead content 1000 times higher than that allowable by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.


Symptoms of acute lead poisoning include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures

Symptoms of long-term exposure to low lead levels include:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Behavioural problems
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Poor coordination


Low-level exposure may be difficult to detect clinically but can still cause long-term harm.

Extremely high blood lead levels can cause organ damage and death.

Blood lead levels over 5 µg/ml must be reported to the Department of Health within 5 days of diagnosis.

Health professionals should advise anyone taking Penisole to stop immediately, and consider blood lead testing.

All patients should be reminded that complementary medicines marked with ‘AUST L’ or ‘AUST R’ numbers have been approved by the TGA for supply in Australia, and that products purchased online or from overseas without ‘AUST L’ or ‘AUST R’ numbers may be unsafe.

A/Prof Tim Moss
A/Prof Tim Moss

Associate Professor Tim Moss has PhD in physiology and more than 20 years’ experience as a biomedical research scientist. Tim stepped away from his successful academic career at the end of 2019, to apply his skills in turning complicated scientific and medical knowledge into information that all people can use to improve their health and wellbeing. Tim has written for and Scientific American’s Observations blog, which is far more interesting than his authorship of over 150 academic publications. He has studied science communication at the Alan Alda Centre for Communicating Science in New York, and at the Department of Biological Engineering Communication Lab at MIT in Boston.

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