Natural health products the largest selling OTC medicines in 2015–16

From Australia’s health 2018 (full publication; 4 June 2018 edition); see also: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-03/chart-of-the-day-natural-therapies-vitamins/10328514

These results reflect the large amount of money spent on marketing these products (Swisse $50 million per annum) and the failure of the regulator (the TGA) to act on misleading and deceptive claims that target common insecurities of the public. For example:

In short, a triumph of hype, celebrity endorsement and regulatory inaction over science!

Are there any useful complementary medicines?

Yes, there are a few!  For example, folate for women wanting to get pregnant (preconception) and in pregnancy, iodine during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, Vitamin D in people with deeply pigmented skin, or chronic and severe lack of sun exposure for cultural, medical, occupational or residential reasons.

But most Australians can get what they need most of time from a healthy diet containing fish, fruit and vegetables. Supplements are no substitute for the latter!

And there is more and more evidence that many benefits touted are illusionary: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/oct/04/vitamin-d-supplements-dont-help-bone-health-major-study-concludes

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About Dr Ken Harvey

Public Health Physician, Medical activitist
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