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Why we should be questioning ‘natural’ medicines

By Waveny Holland - posted Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The world of business is all about making a profit for the business or shareholders. The public is encouraged to challenge our insurance providers, banks, electric and phone companies. We are told to question them to get the best deal and value for money for our family and ourselves.

So, with that mindset, why do we spend so much money on supplements, vitamins and minerals and not ever question the nutraceutical industry? Are any questions asked if those supplements and vitamins are what is best for us or for our families and actually do what is claimed by the advertising?

The nutraceutical industry is burgeoning with consumers buying into vitamins, minerals and other functional foods in supplement form. Over the counter herbal remedies are dispensed by retail, health food shop or pharmacy assistants who are trained in selling a product with minimal training in what the product contains, the expected effect and any potential side effects.


So, I believe to be an informed consumer of these products, it is vital that we question 'natural' medicines.

Recent media coverage of natural medicines whether vitamins, mineral supplements or herbal remedies, has shown that just because there are claims made about the product being natural and able to treat or cure a range of disorders, doesn't necessarily make them safer or appropriate. Some of the claims made sound quite bizarre to western thinking and knowledge.

The "bizarre" terms that were discussed in the media recently in relation to these remedies were "opening the orifices" and "moistening the triple burner". These terms are very specific to Chinese medicine and are understood by trained practitioners of Chinese medicine and are no less bizarre than a western medical doctor telling their patient that they have choledocholithiasis …..gall stones in the bile duct.

Just as bizarre sounding but easily explained by a trained practitioner as is the specific Chinese medicine terminology.

Chinese herbal medicines are an ancient therapy going back thousands of years requiring years of knowledge and training to be able to diagnose and dispense the appropriate formula for each specific case of signs and symptoms and individual needs.

This gives Chinese herbal medicine practitioners the flexibility to mix very specific formulas for each individual patient thus ensuring a very tailored approach to every treatment rather than the generic one size fits all, and badly at that, herbal formulas available over the counter at health food stores, supermarkets and pharmacies.


Over the counter remedies are often expensive when you consider that the bottom line is profit for the company and not necessarily therapeutically beneficial as the advice given is by a retail assistant rather than a minimum 4-year bachelor degree trained Chinese herbal medicine practitioner. As an informed consumer you deserve to get value for money and an effective treatment. This comes from seeing a qualified, well-trained, registered Chinese medicine practitioner. Don't you deserve the best for your health and that of your family?

The Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has been representing the majority of Chinese medicine practitioners for the past 45 years and we support the government regulations for approval of herbal remedies as overseen by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Practitioner only Chinese herbal remedies are made to the highest standards of manufacture and are screened by the TGA for quality and effectiveness as claimed.

The Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) which is part of the Australian Government Department of Health, is the authority that is responsible for assessing, regulating and monitoring products and equipment including prescription medicines, vaccines, sunscreens, vitamins and minerals, medical devices, blood and blood products that are used for therapeutic purposes in Australia.

New Complementary Medicine reforms will see risk-based application categories introduced within each of the complementary medicines pre-market assessment processes. This will provide an appropriate risk-based model for the evaluation of complementary medicines.

To ensure safety and quality, AACMA recommends that the public seek qualified advice and treatment from a registered practitioner by using the practitioner search function available on the AACMA website:

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About the Author

Waveny Holland is a Chinese medicine practitioner and current Resident of the AACMA

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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