Natural Health Products are a collection of different types of products which are chemically unrelated and are used” in diagnosing, treating, mitigating, or preventing a disease, disorder, or abnormal physical state or its symptoms in humans; restoring or correcting organic functions in humans; or modifying organic functions in humans, such as modifying those functions in a manner that maintains or promotes health” and includes.

Testing medicines before approval

pharmaceutical scientist

  • vitamins and mineral supplements
  • traditional medicine such as Traditional Chinese Medicines or Ayurvedic (Indian) Medicines
  • probiotics
  • plant materials
  • amino acids and essential fatty acids
  • homeopathic medicines
  • consumer products, such as certain toothpastes and shampoos,

Close to 70% of Canadians falsely think that organic foods are natural health products. Most know that vitamins and minerals are natural Health products. Because many Canadians have used these products at one time or other we will consider a few questions that may help during the selection process.

Does the Natural Health Product have a NPN?

The NPN followed by a 8 digit number tells the consumer that the Natural Health Product has been reviewed by Health Canada for safety effectiveness and quality. Next time you buy Natural Health Products check that it’s licensed. While some people don’t belief those natural Health products are effective, a lot of effort is applied to show that they work. Of course they work only to the limitations of the claim. Products without NPN or DIN –HM for homeopathic medicines are unlikely to be licensed. Anyone selling imported products without NPN or DIN-HM would be breaking the law.

Certain products may be sold with EN (exemption number). These products have only undergone an initial assessment to ensure that the information supporting their safety, quality and efficacy has been submitted but not evaluated. .Health Canada indicated that it would not issue any more licenses with EN from 2013.

What is the source of the ingredients? 

The ingredients of a Natural Health Products may originate from natural sources or they may be synthetic. The source of ingredients is associated with serious risks because of contaminants. Some people are more sensitive to the contaminants than others. If the source of pharmaceutical ingredients change the licence has to be amended. Health Canada reviews the sources of the ingredients very critically. Check the sources of the medicinal ingredients on the label before you buy.

How much of the Natural Health Product are you buying?

It is important to decide the quantity you are buying early. If you have never used the product before, buy the least amount possible or talk with the pharmacist. Once you open the package it may be difficult to return it should you not like the product. Some products may be bitter or difficult to swallow.

How much does it cost? 

Compare prices for a similar Natural Health Product made by different manufactures with the same ingredients. Sometimes there is only one manufacturer. Compare the quantities sold by different manufacturers and the prices. You should be able to decide the best price.

How frequent is a Natural Health Product taken  or applied

As Natural Health Products are for self selection and do not require a prescription check the options available. Some products are taken once a day, twice a day or three times a day. Buy products which you will take according to the instructions on the label otherwise it will not work. Sometimes the most inconvenient product to take may be the most effective. If you need help ask the pharmacist.

What are the indications and contra-indications?  

This refers to the reason to take a Natural Health product. Check that you are buying the product for the intended purpose. Do not buy the product based only on recommendations. Read what is written on the label. Note the contra-indications. Contra-indications are conditions under which you should not take that Natural Health Product. For example don’t take this product if you have a kidney disease is a contra-indication.

How long should you take a Natural Health Product? 

The time limit is sometimes based on clinical trial data that was used during the application for licensing. Sometimes other data is used. The duration of time to take these products is thus variable. For example the time limit may be 3 months, 6 months or 12 months to be effective. For others like toothpaste or mouth wash no time limit is given. Consider this before you buy.





The information provided in this article is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice,.