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27 Feb 2004

Do they work
Does anybody regulate the Herbal/Natural health product industry.Why is it that there is always the disclaimer that these products are not actually meant to cure but can only assist and that they have not actually been tested(Or words of a similar nature).
Do these products actually work or not?

If the professionals in this field doubt their efficacy then should they be selling them at all.
Is a naturopath/homeopath formally qualified or where does it the profession fit in in the Medical Hierachy

I am tired of being told about one herbal remedy and then to read a report which says it does not actually work.eg.Saw Palmetto -I have recently read that there is no ways that the quantities you would need to assist prostatitis(orBPH) could be obtained in tablet form and also Hypericum(ST Johns Wort).
A recent German studty found it does not work at all.

Your comments please as believe it or not I would like to think they do work.
Or is it all in the mind.
Date: 27/2/2004
Answer 396 views
Expert
naturopath

01 Jan 0001

The Medicine Control Council has been putting in place a regulatory model for the Natural/Complementary Medicines industry. Up till now it was largely unregulated and due to that, remedy manufacturers could not make a claim on the product without also providing a disclaimer. Only once a remedy has passed through the registration process and has been confirmed to treat a particular problem, may they make a proper claim.
Despite this registration process being delayed, there has been a lot of research done on natural remedies. The problem has been that the clinical model used in some studies is not conducive to natural medicine, in a lot of cases the dosage used is too low (RDA's) as these levels are too avoid deficiency of that nutrient, but do not reflect Therapeutic levels. Any medicine has a non-benefit level, a therapeutic level, and a toxic dangerous level; what is required is better study protocols that use therapeutic levels with appropriate placebo's or controls.
When this has been followed there has been good evidence to show that a product does or does not work.
Professionals in the field therefore prescribe the remedies at therapeutic doses.
A Naturopath/Homeopath is formally qualified and has to register with the Allied Health Professions Council of SA, they are regarded as a Primary Contact Practitioner in the same way as a GP.
It is common for different studies to find conflicting results when the profile of the study is different - this is why the Term Evidence-Based Medicine is coming into being. To get a more factual picture you have to group all the relevant studies together, look at different dosages, length of study, population studied, placebo used, study criteria, etc and then end up with a complete picture as to an Evidence-Based Benefit.
The same occurs in drug medicine, we see confilicting reports on efficacy depending on study design.
I think what the whole industry is learning from this is that research needs to be better designed and appropriate.
(Dr Chase Webber ND)
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