Environmental Health staff in Guilford County recently learned that a cultural remedy sold in a local African ethnic store, calabash clay or nzu, contains very high levels of lead and arsenic. We’ve learned that it may also be sold in Asian ethnic stores. Our understanding is that nzu may be eaten to relieve morning sickness among pregnant women.
Nzu, generally resembling a large pellet or ball of clay, is also called Calabash clay, Calabash chalk, Calabar stone, Poto, Ndom, Mabele, Argile and LaCraie. It is often packaged in plastic bags with a handwritten label identifying it as “Nzu.” DHHS recommends that anyone who has been ingesting Nzu should immediately stop using this product and contact their health care provider.
For further information, see the DHHS Calabash Chalk fact sheet.