Below are the comments of some of the leading researchers and experts in the field of natural health products, on the need for the NHSF Product Accreditation.
Professor Theo Dingermann, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
Accreditation goes beyond licensure. While market approval in the field of herbal medicinal products is based on minimum standards below those of clinically tested phytopharmaceuticals, NHSF Accreditation offers the opportunity for a research-based company to distinguish its products from the great mediocrity and to become recognizable. This will pay off for a health-conscious population.
Now is the right time for accreditation, as there are current political efforts to classify all phytopharmaceuticals as poorly tested food supplements.
Dr Bill J. Gurley, National Center for Natural Products Research, University of Mississippi, USA
Natural health products are now a mainstay within health care systems across the globe. Almost half of all consumers in western societies ingest some type of dietary supplement, whether it be a multivitamin or botanical supplement(s). Given that the regulatory rigor for natural health products is oftentimes much less than that for conventional medications, it is not surprising that many of these products have questionable quality. Thus, in many instances, the product does not deliver what the label claims. This can have a profound impact on an individual’s health, not to mention their pocketbook, as many natural health products are not inexpensive. The accreditation approach outlined by NHSF will go far in assuring that consumers are getting what is claimed on a product label. This is especially important during these troubling COVID times, as many consumers have eschewed conventional medications and opted for more natural alternatives. It will be of primary importance for a supplement manufacturer to embrace NHSF accreditation in order to solidify their reputation among both consumers and health care professionals.
Professor Pierre Haddad, Dept Pharmacology and Physiology, Medical School, University of Montreal, Canada
Many people rely on natural health products for their wellbeing and need to be able to distinguish the high-quality products that are backed by serious science. The NHSF accreditation hits the mark by independently and rigorously assessing the evidence that a company has indeed invested considerable effort to bring to the market such a specific, science-based quality product. The time has finally arrived when people can reliably distinguish the real science-backed products from all the me-toos!!
Dr. Stefan Gafner, Chief Science Officer, American Botanical Council
The NHSF has embarked on an ambitious mission, which is to assess natural health products based on the available science to support their efficacy and safety. Since the accreditation is based to a large extent on the results from appropriately designed human clinical studies, it is particularly relevant to the consumer of herbal medicines. Finding good quality botanical products is a challenging task even for those with a lot of expertise in the field of herbal medicine. This approach will make it much easier for health professionals, consumers, and other parties interested in herbal medicine to find botanical health products with documented benefits and recommend clinically tested brands. Additionally, it may provide an incentive for suppliers and manufacturers of botanical ingredients and finished natural health products to invest more resources into clinical research. I wholeheartedly support this initiative.
Dr. Andreas Lardos, Head of Research Group and Lecturer, Natural Product Chemistry and Phytopharmacy, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
The worldwide boom of plant-based medicines makes it increasingly difficult for consumers or health professionals to make a choice among the plethora of seemingly identical products. Therefore there is a need for a global standard which enables consumers to discern the original clinically researched product from those with borrowed evidence and of uncertain quality.
Professor Michael Habs, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany
Science makes the difference. Only facts are facts.
While the promotion of health products becomes more and more penetrated by additional facts and alternative information, it is more important than ever to strengthen scientific credibility of researched products.
Product accreditation by NHSF provides a reliable way to add peer reviewed external support to the scientific data base of your valuable product-specific research.
Professor Andrew Scholey PhD, CPsychol AFBPsS Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University and Monash University Melbourne, Australia
Product accreditation is critical, especially in the current landscape. It ensures end-users can be confident in the quality of the products and the evidence backing them.
Professor Dennis Chang, Director of NICM Health Research Institute, Sydney, Australia
This novel initiative creates a mechanism to independently communicate with consumers the scientific evidence to support the use of your products.
Professor John Funder MD PhD FRCP FRACP, Monash University Melbourne, Distinguished Scholar at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia
Pharma can patent their products; those who make evidence-based natural medicines can’t – but they can and should get accredited.
Physicians increasingly prescribe natural medicines, and need the assurance – in terms of content, quality and positive clinical trials – that accreditation can provide.
Professor Con Stough, Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia
I support the accreditation process of natural medicine products by the Natural Health Science Foundation. I believe that this accreditation is fundamental to the success and progress of this industry. It allows high-quality products to be differentiated based on science and research and for consumers to have confidence that a particular product or plant-based extract will be effective. Promoting confidence in natural health products is essential at government and regulatory levels as well as for sales and growth of the industry in general.
Professor Michael Heinrich, School of Pharmacy, University College London, United Kingdom
Herbal medical products or botanicals or natural health products; while the terminology is confusing, it does not matter what we call them. They are an essential element of healthcare especially of minor self-limiting diseases and some chronic conditions. However, there can be no herbal generics. Therefore, products need to be independently audited for quality, safety and evidence of their therapeutic benefits. I applaud, the long-standing efforts of the NHSF to achieve exactly this since it offers patients and consumers an opportunity to identify specific high-quality products with an evidence base.
Dr Joanna Harnett, School of Pharmacy, The University of Sydney, Australia
The reproducibility of high-quality herbal and nutritional products is a complex and critical science and foundational in contributing to their safe and appropriate use in clinical and self-care practices. The Natural Health Science Foundations work in raising awareness about the scientific processes from cultivation to a medicinal product is a great contribution to the field. Accrediting products that adhere to such practices is a step towards realising the quality use of natural products.
Dr Bob Allkin, Programme Manager, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK
“Health products” derived from plant ingredients are increasingly used and marketed as somehow “natural”. Sadly, the fragmentary, inconsistent and inadequate regulatory frameworks in place for herbal medicines or food supplements has led to the widespread distribution of ineffective or unsafe products alongside those from manufacturers employing ethical and reliable supply chains and ensuring stringent quality controls. Reliable product accreditation enables consumers and practitioners to differentiate among alternative products and further ensures that companies following best-practice are rewarded for their investment. NHSF’s call for and promotion of more research is also essential if we are to better understand physiological responses to chemically complex products and to provide evidence for the efficacy and safety of specific products.
Assistant Professor Carolina Ung, University of Macau, China
Product accreditation has 2 fundamental purposes:
(1) to the users – an assurance of external evaluation that the product complies with certain quality standards and that the company’s credibility in voluntarily pursuing better quality products.
(2) to the companies – an assurance that the products have been found to be satisfactory by reputable third party and a driving force for closer monitoring and improvement in addition to self-evaluation and self-directed initiatives.
In addition, a reliable accreditation system can also improve the traceability of the products and of the scientific evidence behind them contributing to the overall development of both research and industry.
Dr. Evelyn Wolfram, Lecturer, Natural Product Chemistry and Phytopharmacy, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
For thousands of years we have written records that mankind relied on natural sources for health care in almost all cultures on earth. Very recently in human history a one target:one treatment paradigm has developed which has had the tendency to disqualify multi-active pharmaceutical approaches built upon on millennia of traditional experience. One reason is surely a deficit in proving evidence of quality and clinical efficacy in a sound scientific way, which is taken for granted in health products with monomolecular actives. Independent assessment of the standardization and clinical evidence of the complex mixture of natural active ingredients in herbal remedies and supplements is therefore needed. The NHSF Product Accreditation is designed to do just this, in compliance with international experts’ consensus standards, and is a very important step for reaching public credibility in health care.
Quality and clinical evidence is product specific. This credo from the Natural Health Science Foundation is manifested in the accreditation programme and helps consumers and health care professionals to make the right and rational natural health product choice. Therefore, the patient and consumer need for herbal and natural remedies alongside synthetic, chemically isolated treatments can be achieved with equivalent standards.