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  • 13 Oct 2021 3:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In her latest sustained attack on Australian complementary medicines, Consultant Pharmacist, Dr Geraldine Moses has misreported several problems that that she says exist with using dietary supplements (complementary medicines).

    Surely it is much more helpful to engage in respectful discussion with clinicians, patients, academia, and industry?

    Anti-complementary medicines lobby

    In the article, published in Australian Prescriber and picked up by other outlets, the comprehensive negative statements are generally incorrect or misleading. Plus, Dr Moses did not disclose that she is a longstanding member of the small but vocal anti-complementary medicine fringe group, Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM).

    FSM Group members regularly create and promote hostile slogans about complementary medicines and attack the government's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA regulates Australian Complementary medicines to the highest standards in the world. This high level of regulation is one reason that Australia's complementary medicines industry is thriving here and overseas.

    Confusion, regulation and risk

    Australian complementary medicines are the most regulated in the world. We manufacture complementary medicines to the highest pharmaceutical-grade quality; this is not the case overseas. Outside of Australia, especially in the USA, companies can make unsupported advertising claims and generally speaking, there is a far higher risk than that seen in Australian listed complementary medicines.

    Who needs supplements?

    Geraldine Moses states that for wellness purposes, the risk of taking supplements outweighs the benefit. She adds that most adults don't need supplements.

    In an ideal world, the best way to derive nutrients is through diet. But the fact is that the majority of people don't consume enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients; there is a myriad of evidence that supports this. According to the AIHW, for example, 50% of adults and 32% of children don't consume sufficient serves of fruit, and 93% of adults and 95% of children do not consume adequate vegetables. Other research shows that only around one out of five Australians consume enough omega-3. Surveys. Many more studies could be cited.

    A myriad of evidence supports this existence of nutrient-dietary challenges for Australians ranging from iron-deficiency anaemia to vitamin D and B12 plus many more. Deficiency can result from many reasons such as dietary restrictions, cultural practices, post-gut surgery, lifestyle factors, ageing, the use of certain pharmaceutical medicines and more.

    Health literacy

    Geraldine Moses says that people who take supplements are wasting their money. The seven out of ten Australians that take complementary medicines regularly would no doubt disagree. Her statement ignores the increasing health literacy of the Australian public who make an active choice.

    Research shows that the more highly educated a person is, the more likely to take complementary medicines. The 2011–2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey examined supplement use within the Australian population; results showed that supplement use was greater among those with higher levels of education.

    According to the researchers, supplement users are more likely to participate in healthier lifestyle behaviours, have underlying diets that are higher in many nutrients; they also have a more favourable health status when compared to supplement non-users. 

    The price of good health

    Industry critic Geraldine Moses says that people complementary medicines are expensive. Compared to many pharmaceutical, over-the-counter drugs, complementary medicines are relatively inexpensive. And, health benefits extend to more than just the individual.

    One of the most popular supplements in this country is calcium, a macro-mineral well known for its widespread benefits. Deficiency is associated with adverse health consequences, and severe shortage can result in osteoporosis. Treatments can be burdensome to the healthcare system, and of course, the condition is burdensome for the affected individual and their loved ones.

    It isn't so straightforward

    Complementary medicine is not as straightforward as traditional pharmacology of a single powerful drug effect on one pathway. Complementary medicines are made from either one ingredient or a combination selected to support numerous biochemical pathways. For example, magnesium is integral to more than 300 enzymes; deficiency is highly prevalent worldwide. Yet, in supplementary form, this simple mineral is a powerful, helpful adjunct to pharmaceutical medicine, diet, and lifestyle interventions according to clinical trials.

    Look at the label

    Geraldine Moses says that, unlike conventional medicines, manufacturers of vitamins and minerals are not required to provide warnings of potential side effects, drug interactions or overdose; another incorrect statement.

    In truth, manufacturers of complementary medicines must have strict upper limits on recommended daily doses for higher risk nutrients stated on the label. Appropriate label warning statements on important serious side effects are required; these are designed to inform the public, and they do. Damaging doses are not permitted on recommended directions. Overdosing is also clinically challenging to consume in most cases.


    Geraldine Moses warns about drug-nutrient interactions, which are similar to drugs and foods that interact with medications. The complementary medicines sector produces interaction checkers for healthcare practitioners; for example, one of these resources was created by Blackmores Institute. Academics at Sydney University review the interaction checker and provides pharmacists with a dedicated information portal.

    Decades of research have shown only a few clinically significant side effects for complementary medicines, and these usually relate to purposeful or accidental improper use. Where reactions for any use occur, they are reported in the Database of Adverse Event Notifications (DAEN), actively monitored and addressed. Further, Australia is the only country in the world to have a Pharmacovigilance inspection program in place for complementary medicine companies.

    Complementary medicines make a positive difference to the lives of Australians in a very gentle and low-risk way every day. And, the most severe and damaging adverse events consumers ask for help for are not related to complementary medicines.

    After the death of his son from taking a combination of prescribed medicines, Paul Reis and others affected by severe adverse and even fatal events related to pharmaceutical medicines are campaigning for better consumer warnings on prescription medicine labels to protect patients.

    The need for consumers to communicate with their doctor and pharmacist when taking any over the counter products, including complementary medicines, is important. Still, pharmacists and medical practitioners require a level of knowledge, respect for, and open-mindedness towards complementary medicines and patients' choices.

    Australia's world-leading regulation of quality

    Geraldine Moses says, "Most are unaware that complementary medicine labels may not be entirely trustworthy or that natural health products, especially those sourced from overseas, may contain undeclared adulterants." Complementary medicines displaying an AUST L or R number, i.e., Australian products, only contain pre-approved ingredients that must be positively identified and tested. Legal limits on contaminants such as heavy metals, solvents and certain herbal compounds.

    Made in Australia

    TGA auditors regularly inspect Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) manufacturing sites and laboratories. While herbal adulteration can be a problem in overseas complementary medicines, the sector uses world-leading laboratories for herbal identification in Australia. And, unlike many pharmaceutical medications, most complementary medicines are manufactured here on our shores, maintaining medical product manufacturing expertise and increasing Australia's national healthcare resilience.

    Australians' access to highly regulated listed medicines is not the case for similar supplements purchased from overseas, which have voluntary safety and quality requirements, if any at all. Suppose consumers believed the attack by anti-complementary medicine lobbyists for Australian listed products. In that case, the kinds of concerns stated by Dr Moses may become a reality for the Australian public buying overseas products online.

    Cost-effective public safety

    Australian consumers' access to high-quality, efficacious ingredients through the listed medicines path is important for public safety and cost-effective access. Regulating ingredients in listed medicines at an economically viable level for Australian businesses to produce such products is also vital – it allows for better health, wellness, and safety for the Australian population.

    Towards a better conversation

    Just as haematology, endocrinology and dietetics are forms of medicine, so is complementary medicine. There is usually a gentle and lower risk, and thus, importantly, it permits consumers a level of self-determination in their care. It is disappointing that specific well-respected individuals create unbalanced arguments to inflate fear over a valuable and helpful field of medicine. At the same time, other medical experts see countless patients whose health improves by using treatments including complementary medicines specific to the patient's individual needs.

    It is much more helpful to engage in respectful discussion with clinicians, patients, academia, and industry to understand the benefits and risks of recognising and advancing the use of complementary medicine through best practice. A positive, mutually respectful approach to engagement and ongoing education is what is needed. This way, all of us can  be helped to make the best decisions and deliver the most positive health outcomes for us all.


    Carl Gibson

    CEO Complementary Medicines Australia

  • 16 Aug 2021 11:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jason Hawrelak's passion for gastrointestinal health, the gut microbiota, and probiotics was sparked in his final year of undergraduate naturopathic training. His Honours (First Class) and PhD degrees focused on the gastrointestinal microbiota, the role of dysbiosis in irritable bowel syndrome, and the clinical applications of pre- and probiotics. Dr Hawrelak is a researcher, educator, naturopath, and nutritionist who has written extensively in the medical literature on these topics.

    "From reading books on naturopathy in the early 1990s, I learnt for the first time what it took to be truly healthy" Dr Jason Hawrelak

    "My initial interest in natural medicine was triggered by my personal health issues, such as longstanding asthma, hayfever and just an overall lack of wellness," Jason says. "From reading books on naturopathy in the early 1990s, I learnt for the first time what it took to be truly healthy. I started eating a predominantly plant-based, whole food diet and gave up junk food (which was a normal part of my childhood diet). I also learnt the importance of time spent in nature, daily meditation, and getting enough sunshine to make adequate vitamin D. Using these core naturopathic principles, my level of health changed dramatically at age 19," he says.

    A vibrant health scene

    The young backpacker from Canada, arrived in Australia in 1992 and immediately fell in love with the Byron Bay area. The vibrant health scene in Byron at the time had a significant impact on Jason. Soon after arriving on the North Coast, he quit drinking, began to eat healthily, practised mediation and deep breathing, and started to spend more time out in nature. At this time, when he was essentially living a naturopathic lifestyle, he had no idea that naturopathy was even a profession.

    A lifechanging course

    When a friend mentioned that a new course in naturopathy was about to be taught at Southern Cross University, Jason knew it was the perfect choice for him. Later, as part of his Honours and PhD, Jason was delighted to find himself working with Professor Steven Myers, researching all things leaky gut syndrome and dysbiosis. These topics resonated so strongly that they became part of his life's passion.

    Jason continues to pursue his academic career and research in probiotics and gastrointestinal health while contributing to many professional development events. He is also a practising clinician and the proud co-owner of Hobart's landmark pharmacy, Gould's Natural Medicine, which has served the people of Tasmania and its surroundings since 1881.

    As well as naturopathy, the centre offers nutritional advice, herbal medicine, osteopathy, acupuncture and more. The centre is a family affair with both Jason’s partner (Dawn Whitten – also a naturopath) and father-in-law (Greg Whitten) involved, the latter growing medicinal herbs on the Goulds Organic Farm, which are used to meet the busy practice needs of the apothecary and clinic.


    "It’s brilliant to be involved with every stage in a herb’s lifecycle, from planting, harvesting and drying," says Jason. "Not many clinicians get to see the whole lifecycle of the herbs they’re using in practice and get to know and appreciate a medicinal herb on a deeper level."

    Regarding patient education, Jason now feels he spends considerable time correcting misinformation. "Twenty years ago, when I first commenced clinical practice, we would spend most of our time educating our patients. We did not have to spend very much time refuting incorrect ideas, but now, there is a lot of myth-busting to do, and more of our time is spent on re-education," says Jason.

    "For example, before seeing me some of my patients have diagnosed themselves with conditions that they don't have, and I have seen some of these patients who have inadvertently caused themselves harm by implementing restrictive dietary approaches or taking microbiota-harming interventions that they did not need based on information they read online."

    Carnivores and ketogenesis

    Correcting misinformation surrounding the microbiome is one of Jason's passions. Dietary practices – such as the carnivore diet and ketogenic diets – can severely damage the microbiome, something that he has seen firsthand in his patients. The longer patients have followed such diets, generally the more of a challenge it is returning the ecosystem to a more healthy, diverse, balanced state. He also observes substantial alterations to his patients ecosystems after antibiotic and proton pump inhibitor use. Antibiotic combinations are particularly potent in their capacity to induce long-term detrimental shifts in the gut ecosystem. Proton pump inhibitor use is perhaps more surprising, given this class of medicines is used mostly to treat gastroesophageal reflux, but research conducted over the past 5 years has shown PPIs to have a substantive negative impact on GI ecosystem diversity and cause a loss of species richness.

    Reinoculating the human ecosystem

    "As research builds, I hope that novel interventions will come to the fore. Interventions better able to reinoculate and repopulate the human ecosystem. These are sorely needed, as each generation of Westerners have ecosystems that are lacking in diversity and species richness compared to the one before. Research is now suggesting that even a single course of antibiotics can result in dramatic changes to the gastrointestinal ecosystem and permanent species extinction. This is worrying in that we know so little about the species we have already lost and the potential repercussions of their loss."

    Faecal matter from Amazonian peoples and hunter-gatherers in Africa may well have the potential to reinoculate Westerners with species that have been lost over the last century, explains Jason. "We are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of global warming and climate change on the loss of animal and plant diversity in the Earth’s ecosystems, but we are also experiencing a massive loss in our internal ecosystems," Jason says.

    “I think we’re seeing the consequences of this internal diversity loss now, with substantial increases in rates of chronic mental health conditions, allergies, autoimmune diseases and metabolic disorders in Western nations. Restoring and optimising the gastrointestinal ecosystem holds great promise in turning the tide of these conditions,” ends Jason. 

  • 11 Jun 2021 1:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month 

    Bowel Cancer is Australia's second deadliest cancer, but it is one of the most treatable types of cancer if found early.

    Although it is more common with advancing age, it affects everyone, young and old, and nearly 300 Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer this week.

    Here are nine ways to protect your health.

    1.       Get screened

    Bowel cancer is treatable and beatable if detected early. Get screened – people who do reduce their risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16% compared to those who don't.

    2.       Watch your alcohol

    Drinking two or more alcoholic drinks per day significantly increases bowel cancer risk.

    3.       Stay in a healthy weight

    Limit fat around the middle. Bowel cancer risk rises with increased body fat, particularly waist-hip ratio.

    4.       Enjoy calcium

    Dairy products and calcium supplements are linked with a decreased risk of bowel cancer. Consuming 200 grams of milk or 200mg of dietary calcium per day was associated with a 6% reduced bowel cancer risk.

    5.       Get moving

    Physical activity can reduce colon (not rectal) cancer by 16%. Try to be physically active (where the heart rate is elevated) every day in any way for 30 minutes or more. As your fitness improves, increase the length of time, you are active to 60 minutes or choose in more vigorous activity. 

    6.       Get treated

    If you have bowel polyps, getting them may lower the risk of bowel cancer.

    7.       Stub it out

    Smoking 40 cigarettes per day increases the risk of bowel cancer by around 40% and nearly doubles the risk of bowel cancer death.

    8. Watch your intake of red meat

    Eating too much red and processed meat has been linked with an increased risk of bowel cancer. If you eat red meat, do not eat more than three portions per week. Three portions are equivalent to about 350-500 grams cooked weight. Eat very little, if any, processed meat.

    9.       Enjoy whole grains

    Three servings (a total of 90 grams) of whole grains daily; choose brown rice or wholemeal bread; it can reduce the risk of bowel cancer by 17%. Pile two-thirds or more of your plate with whole grains, veggies, fruits, beans, and nuts; limit animal protein to just a third of your plate.

  • 22 Apr 2021 11:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Congratulations to Dr Lesley Braun and the Blackmores Institute team for winning the Contribution to Research, Education and Training award.

    Many congratulations to the Blackmores Insitute team

    Drawing on her broad experience in research and academia, the Director of Blackmores Institute, Dr Lesley Braun, is proud of her team's commitment to providing comprehensive education programs for healthcare professionals and retail assistants.

    Improving health literacy and knowledge

    The academic and professional arm of the Blackmores Group, Blackmores Institute, was founded by the board in 2012 to improve health literacy and knowledge through education and develop evidence-based solutions through research and innovation. A key objective is to turn science-expertise and knowledge into practical communications and useful and useable knowledge.

    "The education team went through a major transformation around four years ago," says Lesley. "The learning and development, design and subject matter expert teams combined to produce and perfect clear digital and online education for a high quality and effective adult learning experience. New skills were brought into the team alongside some of the best practitioners around. The transformation and team are headed by Gill McEwen, who blended the learning and development experts' skills with subject matter professionals to build the magic," Lesley says.

    Blackmores Institute draws knowledge from 19 universities; it supports 13 current PhD students as part of its commitment to investing in current and future leaders in the industry.

    CMEd Certification

    Although proud of all the education offerings, Lesley is particularly proud of the CMEd Certification program. This clinically significant, specialised, and interactive program is designed to help pharmacists deliver personalised healthcare integrating natural medicine solutions. CMEd is also Group 2 CPD accredited and focuses on evidence-based complementary medicine ingredients, common health conditions, and integrative care delivery.

    "Pharmacists in retail are surrounded by supplements, but we know that very little is taught in universities apart from drug-herb interactions. They may not be clear about how supplements can work in a complementary fashion and the use of supplements for preventive health."

    Lesley's passion for this program follows a national survey conducted by the Alfred Hospital several years in conjunction with Monash and Griffiths Universities led by herself and funded by the Pharmacy Guild and the government's Department of Health and Ageing. It examined what customers wanted from pharmacies. "The results showed that people expect more informed information and recommendations about products. It also showed that pharmacists recognised that not they were not well equipped," Lesley says.

    Comprehensive educational offerings

    Recognising this gap, Blackmores Institute created a tailored and engaging curriculum that was first launched in Malaysia as a test case that was very well received. Thus, it was brought back to Australia with a high level of uptake and engagement. The comprehensive course offers a blend of online modules and live virtual classrooms. It is delivered in two streams: the first focusing on CM ingredients including vitamins, minerals, and herbals and the second stream covering common conditions that present in pharmacy. There is an externally marked final assessment which enables full certification for successful completion.  

    A suite of educational offering caters for different professionals, including dietitians, chiropractors, dentists, and medical doctors, via the popular BioCeuticals educational programs, BioCeuticals Research Symposium and FX Medicine podcasts. Universities pass on only basic education, yet people want to know more.

    Another significant educational offering meets the needs of retail assistants. Blackmores Institute created the first certification program for pharmacy staff, offering continuing education and professional development via their BeCertified program which was rated number 1 in last year’s pharmacy Advantage survey The BeCertified program provides education focussed on building the knowledge and confidence of pharmacy assistants to answer customer questions and recommend suitable vitamin supplementation solutions their customers.  It is made up of seven pathways. Each pathway is a health category that contains four levels of learning.  Pharmacy assistants hone their knowledge and skills as they navigate through a pathway.  By the time they complete the final level of learning their skills have been refined from beginner to expert level.  On successful achievement of each health category they receive a digital badge.  Once they have completed all seven health categories, they earn their Certification badge.

    "We know many people could benefit from complementary medicine products, but they may not be aware of all of their options. A big part of the kind of education offered by Blackmores Institute is to improve natural health literacy at many levels," Lesley says.

    Ahead of the curve

    A great deal of online education was already prepared and being delivered when the global Covid 19 pandemic began last year. This forced people to engage more with online education since fewer face-to-face events were going ahead. In this respect, Blackmores Institute was ahead of the curve and well prepared for this transition to online learning.

    Lesley is incredibly proud of the team, saying that they keep learning. The culture of continuous improvement is constantly measured internally.

    "Thank you, CMA, for this important category recognising that a very significant part of building the industry is enhancing accurate awareness via greater understanding. Myths must be dispelled, and the correct and appropriate information is shared with health professionals and the public. I hope that winning the award helps to stimulate further improvement and understand of the importance of education. I hope it inspires others to move forward on their education journey," ends Lesley.

  • 12 Apr 2021 9:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The CMA Wholesaler or Distributor Award celebrates the company that has made the most significant contribution to the complementary medicines industry in the past 12 months. This year, the winner of this important accolade is a third-generation producer of pharmaceutical medicines, Craig Fallshaw and his company, the Complementary Medicines Group (CMG).

    CMG CEO, Craig Fallshaw accepts the CMA Wholesaler/Distributor Award

    CMG received the most significant number of nominations – more than any other category – for exceptionally high standards of service and product delivery. Judges were impressed with the deep knowledge that supports CMG customers bring their ideas to life, launch, and distribute their products.

    A family legacy

    Craig's family manufactured vitamins for Blackmores in Manly Vale on Sydney's northern beaches since 1968.  After school and during school holidays, Alongside his parents, cousins, and siblings, Craig worked in his grandfather’s company manufacturing for the Blackmore family who then lived opposite his own family.

    After finishing school, Craig studied and became a chef, later touring and working in Queensland and traveling overseas. When he returned to the family business, Craig studied for a naturopathy diploma deepening his product knowledge. The family busines grew and was re-launched as Sphere Healthcare which was later sold in 2009. The following year, Craig launched CMG working from a laptop on a desk in a friend's warehouse.

    Meeting the needs of the 30 per cent

    “I realised that the existing three big manufacturers serviced about seventy per cent of the industry; larger manufacturers are geared to providing substantial, long runs of product. But what if you need a hundred thousand products and not five million?  What about the remaining thirty per cent or so? Plus, small companies and start-ups may not get the most tailored service?”

    Rather than tackle the big companies head-on, Craig realised there was a gap in the market where smaller operators' needs were not being met. Thus, small, or medium-sized start-ups became the core business for CMG providing those clients with the same level of service the same as larger companies expect and are getting. “It's a nice niche that is not exposed to China or export; some do sell via Amazon, but most are domestic," Craig says.

    Turning ideas into listable products

    CMG provides a full-service model which starts with a client meeting to define the idea around the product; CMG’s technical and Innovation team, led by Dr Brad McEwen, helps turn the client’s idea into a listable product complete with evidence tables. Then, the finished product is supplied via CMG’s TGA-Licenced facility in Warriewood, New South Wales.

    The business works hard to help with the entire and sometimes complex process, putting customer service at the core of everything they do. "Quality in our industry is mandated by law, but the level of service we aim to provide to our customers is something we can control."

    Excellence in customer service

    Proudly, Craig puts part of his company's success down to the delivery of excellent goods and service as well as constant communication plus problem-solving. “We love our customer service people and we love our customers,” Craig says.

    Today, Craig's career has turned full circle. Learning the ropes of the complementary medicines industry as a child, studying, travelling, and then returning to his roots and passion has seen great success. And we are sure that there is much more to come.

    Celebrating a decade

    It was CMG's 10th birthday last year and the company now has 64 staff and runs seven days a week. Around 12 months ago, the flourishing company had outgrown its previous site.

    “We are very excited to be starting work on our new 4000sqm manufacturing plant in the heart of the Warriewood Valley. The new site will feature four solid dose packing lines and solid dose and powder sachet lines, as well as Australia's only effervescent tablet production capabilities,” Craig says.

    Innovation, ideas, and technology

    “I love the industry, the people the products and the creatives so I decided to purchase the new site. manufacturing facility. My vision for the future is for CMG to be a stage for innovation bringing new ideas and technology to Australian champions of complementary medicine.”

    Craig ends by saying: "We are a niche business, we don't want to be the biggest, we just want to do the products and processes that others don't and do it to the highest standards possible as we look after our niche customers in SME land.”

    Many congratulations to Craig and the team!

  • 29 Mar 2021 9:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The CMA Judges Choice award is presented at the discretion of the panel. It is awarded to an individual or company that has introduced a new standard in quality or innovation, which will transform the industry, but which falls out of the category of other CMA awards.

    This year, the CMA Judges Choice award goes to SFI Health, home of Flordis, acknowledging the achievement of their ground-breaking work throughout its 20-year history. Their aim has always been to create a place in the integrative medicine industry that is dedicated to leveraging clinically trialled finished products, and elevating the science, research, and credibility behind these medicines.

    Congratulations to SFI Health, home of Flordis for taking the 2021 CMA Judges Choice award

    From its initial launch in 2000 with a portfolio comprising solely of clinically trailed integrative medicines the Flordis standard was set. In 2006, the company was successful in the registration of Iberogast®, one of the first herbal complementary medicines on the Australian market.  In 2020, their product Femular®, a non-hormonal containing herbal formulation clinically proven to relieve a range of menopause symptoms, was submitted for assessment into the Listed Assessed pathway.

    Efficacy, safety and clinical evidence

    "A listed assessed outcome will benefit all – consumers, healthcare professionals and the industry," says Robert Hendriks, CEO of SFI Health. "When people walk into a pharmacy or healthcare practice, the label would display a clear mark of efficacy and evidence that they can trust," explains Robert.

    "Clinically evidenced products are what we are consciously focusing on with the industry to voice just why our products are so important – because not all-natural products are created equal in that respect" adds Robert.

    Robert and the SFI team strongly believe in the importance of integrative medicine backed by clinical evidence. SFI Health began with four products around 20 years ago and now proudly offers more than a dozen clinically researched finished products.

    A personal story

    A trained medical doctor, Robert has a personal story at the heart of his natural health passion. One of Robert's four daughters had a health challenge that was not being resolved.

    "My partner found an integrative healthcare doctor, and eventually, the diagnosis of Lyme disease was made."

    As well as being treated with antibiotics, the family used natural products to complement allopathic medicines with positive outcomes.

    Responsible use of integrative medicines

    Today, the global organisation that is SFI Health is home to brands such as Flordis, Klaire Labs, Potter's and Ginsana; they also offer business to business solutions worldwide via state-of-the-art facilities in Switzerland, the USA and UK. This innovative organisation is evolving into one known for its expertise in microbiome, cognitive health, and wellbeing, working with a vision of enabling people to make informed health choices confidently and responsibly.

    "The world needs to know about the benefits of using integrative medicine products. Being dismissive is not good enough or acceptable anymore. We all need to have an open mind and read the evidence, and where appropriate, consider complementary products as part of the treatment regimen. Of course, sometimes, it is appropriate not to use the products – we strongly advocate the responsible use of integrative medicine products," emphasises Robert.

    Special recognition

    Robert and the team are delighted to be presented with this important award. They have already been making some noise about it on their own social media pages. "Actually, I am flabbergasted at the power of digital – I personally had some 4000 views in just two- or three days. People see it, take notice, and respond to it.

    This special recognition reward helps us tremendously to keep the journey. My sincere thanks to the jury and CMA on behalf of all of those, past and present, at SFI Health who have made today possible!" Robert says.

    This award is important because we see that what we are doing is being seen, and it is being applauded. Our company is so proud and happy to be presented with this award. We will keep on focusing on our agenda. SFI Health may be a close kept secret, but not for long. Our focus is on efficacy and safety, undisputable clinical evidence, and the responsible use of integrative medicines.

  • 25 Mar 2021 10:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For the second time in a row and the fifth time in the last six years, Herbalife Nutrition has won the CMA Social Selling award.*

    The team at Herbalife Nutrition celebrate their latest accolade.

    Presented at the 21st Annual Industry Awards and accepted by Peter Hurley, General Manager/Director of Herbalife Nutrition Australia and New Zealand, this award recognises excellence by an organisation that provides high-quality complementary medicines to consumers via the vibrant and growing direct selling channel.Peter Hurley said, "We are honoured to be recognised as a premier global nutrition company that continues to provide high-quality products”.
    The Social Selling Award highlights key Herbalife Nutrition initiatives including:

    • The Body Transformation Challenge – a forum for Members to share the Herbalife Nutrition Philosophy and provide personalised coaching to help people live healthier happier lives.
    • Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board: Experts share knowledge with Members and the public to improve recognition of the importance of balanced nutrition and a healthy, active lifestyle.
    • Entrepreneurial Opportunity and Support offered to Herbalife Nutrition Independent Members.
    • Acknowledgment for exceptional standards and quality assurance:  All Herbalife Nutrition Independent Members and their customers are provided with Gold Standard Guarantees in quality assurance and consumer protection.
    • Product Innovation and New Product Launches: New innovations include TriBlend Select, High Protein Iced Coffee and Vitamin Skin Masks in response to dynamic market demands and consumer needs.
    • Official Nutrition Partner and Senior Partner to the A-League's Western Sydney Wanderers FC and the women's team through the W-League.
    • Enhanced online presence: the launch of Instagram and a improved, mobile-friendly website allowing for more user-friendly and engaging information.
    •  Media and Advertising Campaigns to raise awareness of Herbalife Nutrition's flagship product Formula 1 Nutritional Shake Mix, and their status as number one in the world in meal replacements and protein supplements combined** and weight management and wellbeing.***
    • The Herbalife Nutrition Foundation Bike Ride: Members raise funds to give back to the community and support our six charity partners in Australia and New Zealand.
    • Active involvement working with industry associations, including the Build It Better Initiative, ensures continuous product improvements aligned to industry requirements.
    Peter Hurley ends by acknowledging the dedicated work and passion of the Herbalife Nutrition team saying: "This achievement would not be possible without the great work of our Members and employees who are all aligned with our mission to help people live healthier and happier lives."
    *Complementary Medicines Australia did not hold awards in 2020
    **Source Euromonitor International Limited; per Consumer Health 2021ed, meal replacement and protein supplements definitions; combined % RSP share GBO, 2020 data."
    *** Source Euromonitor International Limited; per Consumer Health 2021ed, weight management and wellbeing category definition; % RSP share GBO, 2020 data."

  • 24 Mar 2021 12:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The worthy but surprised winner of the CMA Contributor Awards is Michael Micallef.

    Michael Micallef accepts the 2021 CMA Contributor Award from CMA CEO Carl Gibson 

    Director of Regulatory Affairs and Technical at Metagenics Australia, Michael, says that to say that he felt shocked when he heard that he had been honoured with the award was an understatement.

    Away at an off-site meeting at the time of the awards ceremony, Michael heard the news via a text message from CMA’s Lucy Lang – he saw his photo on the screen in front of the 2021 CMA Contributor Award.

    “Honoured, astonished and surprised all at the same time” is how Michael describes how he felt at the time.

    Health fundamentals

    The past 20 years of Michael’s professional life has been spent at Metagenics; he built upon his experience in the regulation of cosmetics, food and beverage both in Australia and overseas, with the focus on people’s health and wellbeing as fundamental to life.

    “When I began my career in complementary medicines, I knew that it was an exciting industry. A large sector of the Australian community – 65 per cent – used complementary medicines then. That number continues to grow for good reason. I see many testimonials from people about the positive health benefits of using our own products. Of course, this is replicated throughout our industry everyday. I am passionate about playing my part in these positive health outcomes from a regulatory and quality perspective,” Michael says.

    Michael is passionate about working in complementary medicines because he intimately understands how beneficial their use can be. As with his colleagues in the industry, he is dedicated to working towards complementary medicines being recognised and integrated into everyday healthcare.

    Educating and influencing

    Michael explains: “I believe that our health system will improve significantly when this happens, and working with CMA, I am committed to playing a role in the process by educating and influencing government and educational institutions.”

    Excited about many of the emerging fields in complementary medicines, Michael is particularly enthused about the ever-increasing health benefits being found in probiotics and CBD.

    “Probiotic research has exploded as a new area of exploration,” says Michael, “one that is certain to play a significant role in medicine as our understanding continues to grow. Then there is the frontier of medicinal Cannabis.  It’s great to see how peoples opinions on medicinal cannabis has placed  pressure and driven politicians and legislators around the world to review how medicinal cannabis could be legalised to allow the use of its health benefits. Appreciation and acceptance by the medical profession is growing as well – as there are 5800 applications to the TGA each month to prescribe medicinal CBD for their patients,” Michael says.

    Collaboration and enthusiasm

    Michael’s dedicated approach to complementary medicines has seen his work acknowledged with the 2021 CMA Contributor Award, which he says is the culmination of collaboration and enthusiasm with working with several committees over the years as well as the cooperation, participation and information sharing by professionals who represent companies, regulatory agents, consultants, and CMA.

    Michael says: “Harnessing the energy and knowledge of all these individuals and professional groups is helping to shape and influence government to examine regulation so that complementary medicines can have a better and worthy footing in our health system.”

    Of course, there are industry detractors that disagree: “But these exist in every industry,” Michael says. “Ours are small, well-funded and pretty vocal. But I feel that our most effective approach is to continue to release formulations that have a profound beneficial impact on peoples’ lives.”

    And that is exactly what Michael and his team are committed to producing – the most efficacious, science-backed innovative formulations.

    “I want to give a special shout out to CMA’s Lucy Lang,” says Michael. “Lucy does an absolutely awesome job in assisting the CM industry in fighting the good fight. Lucy is the conduit between industry and the regulator.  Her insights in the workings of the TGA provides industry an understanding into how to approach and resolve regulatory issues.   

    “It has been an absolute honour to have been selected to receive this award. I see it as another one of those attributes to proudly accept on my way to personal growth. I haven’t had the time for it to sink in yet, though!”

    “The future of our industry is very healthy, however, challenges will always be there and the best way to overcome these will be to have a united industry with a strong vocal and well connected industry association that can work with the regulator and government ministry’s to advocate for government policy that benefit CM’s within the local and export markets.

  • 22 Mar 2021 9:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Caruso's Natural Health is the honoured winner of the 2021 Innovator Award.

    Frank Caruso of Caruso's Natural Health accepts the CMA 2021 Innovator of the Year award.

    Industry veteran, Frank Caruso founder and CEO of the company says: "Our boardroom now proudly houses five CMA awards – as well as the Lady Cilento award. The Innovator Award joins CMA awards for training and marketing. “It’s an honour receiving the CMA Innovator Award. I am so proud of my team who have worked so hard to create something unique, and to be recognised for their creativity by the industry makes it extra special," says Frank.

    Having been involved in the industry for nearly 40 years, Frank believes that creativity is the key behind the team’s win. Frank said, “Creativity Takes Courage” because it means taking risks. There is always a really good chance of failure when you choose to be creative that’s what makes it exciting and so challenging." Frank says.

    To introduce an overhaul of the company’s labelling system and retail architecture, the team decided to use a combination of colour coding and easy-to-understand point-of-sale information for customers and for retailers.  “It is all about the presentation,” says Frank, emphasising that the message must be clear and simple. To explain the radically new concept, the team produced a video that was submitted with their nomination to showcase the innovation.   The video featured a new shelf management system which incorporated easy-to-follow colour coding on shelf talkers and labels. The shelf management system includes white plastic trays that support the company's shelf-talkers that clearly highlight each of the products' health benefits.

    System overhaul

    The new concept in product label design, category simplicity, and shelf management mostly stem from Frank’s 13-year experience as a health food retailer. "When I was a retailer in the 1980s, I saw that product ranges were classified in health categories, but it was confusing. One of the things that puzzled me was why there was a women's and men’s category – it didn't make sense to me because apart from a couple of items, all products within the range could be used by all customers. So, this inspired us to totally rethink our label designs and shelf management system. Our strategy was to simplify the categories, create a design that had mass appeal hence improving the customer experience when shopping across the range. Steve Job’s once said; “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication!”

    So, Caruso's design team went to work. After 9 months of hard work and presenting hundreds of new innovative concepts and designs the team finally achieved our ultimate goal. The result, three major categories across the Caruso’s range, each easily identified with a distinctive colour. These were Health Solutions in bright Red, Herbal Therapeutics in lime Green and Nutritional Support in vibrant Blue.

    The Health Solutions category features complex formulas that address specific health conditions in alphabetical order.  The Herbal Therapeutics category includes single, standardised herbal extracts also in alphabetical order and lastly our Nutritional Support category features a range of vitamins and nutrients from A to Z.

    Each product is easily identified with its own colour coded label and shelf strip displaying the listed indications.

    “We knew we had finally got it right when we unveiled the new look across all platforms, including digital. The reaction was welcoming and positive – our reps, pharmacy staff, and customers all embraced the coding for its ease of understanding. It has achieved what we set out to achieve – a straightforward and effective approach for customers and retail staff,' Frank says.

    Custom made Australian bottles

    Taking the product labelling and retail launch a step further, Frank decided that the products should be available in custom made products.

    "We designed our own custom bottles and worked with a local bottle manufacturer to help us with design for all the different sizes for the range. The new recyclable bottle design is unique; We could have easily used standard bottles, it certainly would have saved a lot of time and money, but attention to detail is very important to us so we had to tick every box.  So needless to say, our custom bottles are manufactured in Australia using a special high quality, premium material that is designed to protect the active ingredients plus seal in the freshness," Frank explains.

    Since launching the new shelf management system our sales have increased dramatically over the last two years. Caruso's is proud to have many number one best sellers in pharmacy; These include Veins Clear, Fluid Away, Astaxanthin, K2, Magnesium Cream and many others within the herbal category range.

    "This is quite an achievement when you consider that the Caruso’s brand was launched only 8 years ago. We brand was called ‘Totally Natural Products’ for 16 years before we decided to change the brand name to Caruso’s. It’s my family name, I’m the fonder so I thought it was appropriate to change the name to Caruso’s. Many of the other major supplement brands have been around for decades, some between 50 and 90 years. We have to remind ourselves on how far we have come in 8 short years!” says Frank.

    As well as providing high quality products, Frank and the team also emphasise the importance of a healthy diet and exercise in all their books and on their website as essential pillars of good health.

    "The team and I are so excited about being awarded the CMA Innovator Award – we are humbled because we know that it is a very competitive award. It’s a big deal for us and it inspires us to do better every year. I really don't know what other companies do or how they run their businesses, but we do things diffidently at Caruso’s particularly when it comes to new product development and marketing.”

    Frank finishes by saying; “Innovation takes courage, but it also takes one more important ingredient, it takes PASSION. Nothing great in this world has ever been created without it!”

  • 01 Mar 2021 6:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    One of the highlights of Australia’s world-class complementary medicines industry, the 21st annual CMA awards, were held last week. Over 300 people from the complementary medicines industry gathered on 25 February 2021, to celebrate the outstanding winners in a glittering awards ceremony at the Hyatt Hotel in Sydney.

    Celebrating Ausralia's world-class complementary medicines industry

    Judged by an independent panel, each coveted Award was hotly contested, warmly received, and greatly celebrated.

    And the awards go to …

    The Lady Cilento Award for Lifetime Achievement

    CMA’s most prestigious Award, the Lady Cilento Award, honours an individual’s lifetime achievement and outstanding contribution to the industry and our community.

    This year, this coveted Award went to a former president of CMA and long-time board member, the former Chief Executive Officer of Lipa Pharmaceuticals, Dusko Pejnovic. Dusko is recognised for his absolute commitment to promoting and growing the complementary medicines industry domestically and internationally and for his focus and passion for raising quality standards.

    The Vince Russell Retailer of the Year Award

    Honouring the most outstanding complementary healthcare industry retailer, the Vince Russell Retailer of the Year this year was won by the team at Go Vita Woden in Canberra.

    The team employs qualified naturopaths, herbalists and nutritionists and offer a high-quality service for the local community. As well as being respected by industry and suppliers, Go Vita Woden is also acclaimed by its suppliers, partners and its loyal customers.

    The Social Selling Award 

    Supported by Direct Selling Australia, this important CMA award recognises excellence by an organisation that provides quality complementary medicines to consumers via the exciting direct selling sales channel. For the second year in a row, the Social Selling award was won by the team at Herbalife Nutrition Australia and New Zealand. 

    The Exporter of the Year Award

    Many congratulations to the team at Swisse for winning the Exporter of the Year award for the second year in a row.  Sponsored by Transchem, this key award recognises excellence by a CMA Member engaged in international business, achieving sustainable growth through innovation and commitment to exportation.

    The largest exhibitor on the CMA’s Australia Pavilion at HNC Healthplex in Shanghai, China Swisse is building substantial export markets in Korea, Italy, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, and India and achieved great success for Singles Day Sales in China.

    The Sustainability Award  

    Now in its second year, this prestigious award recognises a business that focuses on initiatives that demonstrate leadership, commitment, and innovation in sustainability. Sponsored by Blackmores, the Sustainability Award was taken by William, Pradeep and the team at Ferngrove Pharmaceuticals, Australia.

    The award reflects Ferngrove’s commitment to sustainability, clean energy, net-zero carbon pledge, war on waste, climate action plan, sustainable packaging program and more.

    The Contribution to Research, Education or Training Award

    Congratulations to Dr Lesley Braun and the team at Blackmores Institute for winning the Contribution to Research, Education or Training.

    Blackmores Institute created the first certification program for pharmacy staff and are recognised for their Credential Certification of Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants’ initiative; a huge achievement that is driving knowledge and awareness of Complementary medicines in pharmacy.

    The Industry Contributor of the Year Award

    Honouring the consistent, dedicated contribution of an individual or team to the advancement and promotion of any aspect of the complementary medicines industry, this year’s award acknowledges Michael Micallef, who is celebrating 20 years at Metagenics.

    Michael’s contribution to the world of regulation has been astonishing – he has Chaired the CMA Regulatory Sub-Committee during the biggest reforms to our regulatory system; he is at the forefront of the development of new Probiotics guidelines and much more.

    The Manufacturing Award  

    The High-Quality Manufacturing Award celebrates high standards and investment in manufacturing processes. It demonstrates a commitment to our environment; the Manufacturing Award went to Rob Tanna and the team at Lipa Pharmaceuticals.

    Judges were impressed with Lipa’s turnkey solutions to make the manufacturing of vitamin supplements a simple process whilst delivering the highest quality, shelf-ready products.

    The Raw Material Supplier Award     

    BJP Laboratories have sponsored this award which recognises the complementary medicines industry’s quality raw material supplier of the year. Many congratulations to Eric, George and the Pharamko team, who were recently awarded full TGA manufacturing licence and are also the first to hold a manufacturing license for clinical trials

    The Award recognises the fact that the winners are highly respected by industry partners – and this is backed by the number of and high-quality nominations made by industry partners.

    The Wholesaler or Distributor Award    

    Celebrating the wholesaler or distributor that has made the most significant contribution to the complementary medicines industry throughout the past 12 months, this award was taken by the Complementary Medicines Group (CMG).

    CMG received the greatest number of nominations – more than any other category – for maintaining exceptionally high standards of service and product delivery, especially in these challenging times. Judges were impressed with their deep knowledge and helping their customers launch and distribute products. Even as a small team, CMG is at the forefront of their arena.

    The Marketing Campaign Award      

    Based on the strength and relevance of the message for the stated target audience, the Marketing Campaign Award recognises the complementary medicines industry’s best marketing campaign, the credible image of the product or service reflected by the campaign, its duration and the campaign’s commercial success.

    Congratulations to Paula Hann and the Metagenics team for the Evolution of Inner Health. Inner Health pioneered the probiotic category in Australia in the last 25 years. The award-winning campaign launched an extensive, shelf-stable range and extended the Inner Health franchise.

    The Innovator of the Year Award

    Sponsored by TSI, the Innovator of the Year Award recognises excellence and the successful application by a CMA Member to the application of new ideas within their business to create value and drive performance.

    Congratulations to Frank and the team at Caruso’s Natural Health, who also won the judges praise for an innovative video nomination.

    The award celebrates Caruso’s shelf categorisation system – which has revolutionised point of sale – is a very complex category and makes it easier for consumers to locate products that suit their needs.

    Factors Group also received a highly commended accolade from the Judging Panel this year.

    The Judge’s Choice Award

    Awarded to an outstanding nomination that showcases the best of our industry, embraces a new standard in quality or an innovation that will transform our sector, the Judges Choice Award was taken by Robert Hendricks and the team at SFI Heath: House of Flordis.

    The Award acknowledges the achievement of Iberogast® oral liquid achieving AUST-Registered status; and  Femular® as  the first to have an integrative medicine product accepted by the TGA for AUST-Assessed registration.”

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Nourishing your dental health

A healthy diet nourishes your whole body, including your teeth and gums. Preventing gum disease and tooth decay can make a significant contribution to your wellbeing and overall health and several nutrients directly impact your oral health.  

Always brush gently but carefully twice daily, floss regularly, and see your dentist twice a year or as requested and use a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Fluoride hardens tooth enamel and is added to water supplies across Australia.

Here are seven essential nutrients for teeth and gum health.

1. Calcium

Calcium compounds give enamel and teeth their strength. Although it is the hardest substance in the human body, there is only a thin layer of enamel of your teeth. Over time, enamel and calcium can be stripped from the teeth by acids from foods and drinks. Calcium in the diet helps to form and maintain healthy teeth and strengthen your jawbone.

Over half of all Australians aged two years and over do not consume enough calcium from foods.

Find calcium in dairy and plant-based milk products, canned salmon and sardines, tofu, seaweed, leafy vegetables, nuts, and fortified foods. If you do not get enough calcium in your diet, you may be deficient, talk to your healthcare professional.

2. Magnesium

Magnesium and other nutrients are needed for optimum bone and tooth health. Magnesium is responsible for over 700 functions in your body, including maintaining strong tooth enamel. More than six in 10 men and seven in 10 women do not get enough magnesium daily.

People who are especially at risk of not getting enough magnesium are those with diseases such as Crohn's disease and coeliac disease, people with type 2 diabetes, older people and people who have alcoholism.

Find magnesium in dark green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, bananas, dried fruit and dark chocolate cereals and coffee.

3. Vitamin A

This fat-soluble vitamin helps to keep mucous membranes healthy so getting enough vitamin A is vital for healthy gums and to prevent dry mouth. Vitamin A is also essential for wound healing.

Vitamin A deficiency is rare in Australia, but it can result from inadequate intake, fat malabsorption, or liver disorders. Deficiency in vitamin A lack leads in weak enamel, enamel with pits or enamel that is less dense. Consuming too much vitamin A can be harmful; always consult a healthcare professional before taking a vitamin A supplement.

Vitamin A is derived from animal sources such as liver, organ meats, salmon and dairy foods. Orange-coloured veggies and fruits contain beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Find beta-carotene in carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, apricots, mangos and more.

4. Vitamin C

This water-soluble vitamin is vital for the formation of blood vessels and other key tissues that support your teeth; vitamin C is also crucial for wound healing. Keeping your skin and connective tissue healthy, aiding wound healing, and preventing infections. Vitamin C can protect against gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, and can prevent your teeth from loosening. Severe vitamin C deficiency can trigger bleeding gums.

Vitamin C deficiency may occur including those who don't consume enough veggies and fruit, including older adults, low-income households, people with an eating or digestive disorder such as coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. It may also occur in heavy smokers and those who are dependent on alcohol or drugs.

Vegetables and fruits contain vitamin C. Brussels sprouts, spinach, citrus fruit, and berries are exceptionally rich, so eat raw or just cooked in a small amount of water to retain this delicate water-soluble vitamin.

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D signals your intestines to absorb calcium, giving enamel and teeth their strength. Without enough vitamin D, calcium will leach out of your bones.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found 23% or one in four Australian adults has some form of Vitamin D deficiency.

The most significant source of vitamin D is the action of sunlight on a cholesterol-like substance in the skin. Food sources include Vitamin D fortified foods such as milk, orange juice and cereal plus fatty fish and egg, canned tuna, and UV-exposed mushrooms.

6. Probiotics

Many different types of bacteria live in your mouth. One of these is Streptococcus mutans. S. mutans turns sugar into lactic acid, and this acidic environment leads to cavities and plaque. One study showed that another type of bacteria which is a part of saliva, Lactobacillus Salivarius can help fight cavity-causing bacteria. L. salivarius metabolises carbohydrates producing organic acids such as lactic acid and acetic acid, which help to inhibit the growth of pathogens and other microorganisms that can cause infection and disease.  

To treat bad breath and other oral problems, you might use an antimicrobial mouthwash. But good bacteria are necessary for a healthy oral microbiome. Using an antimicrobial mouthwash will kill the cavity-causing bacteria as well as the beneficial ones.

L. salivarius has also been shown to reduce the level of plaque-forming bacteria in the mouth while freshening breath and reducing gum sensitivity.  

Dairy products such as yogurt and kefir naturally contain L. salivarius. But due to modern pasteurisation and manufacturing, the beneficial bacterial cultures do not always survive. Fermented vegetables are a source of L. salivarius, particularly if they are made using a brine base (water and a higher concentration of salt). Other sources include tomatoes, bananas, chicory root, artichokes, garlic, and asparagus.

7. CoQ10

Antioxidant CoQ10 battles free radical damage to your cells and synthesise energy at the cell level, making it vital for all tissues and organs, including the gingiva (gums). The effects of taking additional CoQ10 isn't yet known, biopsies have shown subnormal levels of CoQ10 in 60% – 96% of the muscles in patients with periodontal disease. Natural CoQ10 production reaches a peak in your early 20s after which time, the natural capacity to synthesise this coenzyme from foods is reduced. 

Find CoQ10 in organ meats, poultry mackerel and sardines, soy and canola oils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and dairy products.

What about supplements?

Certain supplements may be suggested by a healthcare professional – such as vitamin D if you do not get adequate safe sun exposure or calcium and vitamin D supplements if you do not consume enough calcium in your diet.

Remember, before changing your diet or taking supplements or medicines, talk to your healthcare professional. And as always, follow the directions and dosage on the label.






For consumers considering buying complementary medicines overseas, four reasons why buyers should beware

Where it comes to quality standards, Australian complementary medicines lead the way. Consumers can be sure that Australian products meet the high standard of good manufacturing practice, but that can’t be said for products manufactured overseas. And, when complementary medicines are purchased online from unknown overseas websites that aren’t subject to the same regulations as those enforced in Australia, buyers should beware.

Consumers around the world can buy Australian complementary medicines with confidence.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) receives many reports about overseas-based websites offering 'herbal' or 'drug free' weight-loss products. Far from being 'natural,' though, many products contain ingredients that may be harmful and may not be disclosed on the product label.

Here are four reasons to buy Australian:  

1. Australian complementary medicine products are made according to Good Manufacturing Practice

Australian complementary medicines are included on the TGA’s Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) and can readily be identified with an AUSTL (listed) or AUSTR (registered) number on the label. Products not listed on the ARTG may not have been made under Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) principles and may not meet the quality and safety standards expected by consumers. In Australia, there are 92[i] TGA licensed medicine manufacturing sites across the country, all of which operate to GMP standards for therapeutic goods. Consumers of Australian made complementary medicines can be confident that products contain what they say they do. Again, this may not be the case for products purchased from unknown overseas websites.

2. Traceability of ingredients

Outside Australia, independently authenticated reference materials for the testing of medicinal herbs is not guaranteed. Thus, there may be instances where there are lower levels of stated herbal active ingredients, the wrong herb entirely, or adulteration with other unknown ingredients. In comparison, Australian made complementary medicines are verified and screened for the absence of both elemental impurities and microbial contaminants.

The complementary medicine manufacturing industry in Australia must demonstrate traceability back to authenticated reference materials for all botanicals used. Identification tests are specific for the herbal material and are usually a combination of three or more of:

Macroscopic characters

Microscopic characters

Chromatographic procedures

Chemical reactions.

In short, consumers who choose Australian-made complementary medicine products can be assured of high standards.

3. Australia has a worldwide reputation for quality

Manufacturers of natural healthcare products in Australia have a respected reputation for quality and purity. Carl Gibson, CMA CEO says: “Globally, discerning consumers are choosing Australian products as their number one choice for health and wellbeing with demand for Australian complementary medicines continuing to grow. Australian complementary medicines are a true Australian success story."

4. Buying Australian supports local jobs, manufacturing and exports

Nearly 30,000 Australian jobs are supported by Australia’s complementary medicines industry which is growing annually at a rate of 6.0%. This $5.2 billion industry employs more than 2600[ii] Australians in manufacturing alone.

Regarding exports, Australia’s complementary medicines industry is a $1.1 billion[iii] success story. “With international and local demand continuing to grow, and local manufacturing holding its own, exports have risen 15% in the last year alone.

“As an industry, we can be proud of our world-class quality leading to healthy growth story right here in Australia,” says Carl.

Finding a trusted Australian website

Websites that use the term "au" may lead the consumer to believe they are buying from an Australian website or products that are allowed in Australia, but this may not be the case.

To be sure, it is important to look for products that are marked 'Registered Aust R' or 'Listed Aust R'. This  means the product was manufactured in a laboratory licensed by the TGA which ensures medicines available in Australia are of an acceptable standard.


Regulated in Australia as medicines under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, complementary medicines include vitamins, mineral and nutritional supplements, homeopathic, products and herbal medicines. The term ‘complementary medicines’ also comprises traditional medicines, which includes traditional Chinese medicines, Ayurvedic, Australian Indigenous and Western herbal medicines.

For more information, access to further case studies, or to interview the CEO of Complementary Medicines Australia, Carl Gibson, contact Ravinder Lilly on: Ravinder.Lilly@cmaustralia.org.au or 0418 928 756.

[i] Therapeutic Goods Administration, 2020. TGA Complementary Medicines manufacturing licence registry, Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health.

[ii] IbisWorld, 2020. Vitamin and Supplement Manufacturing in Australia: Market Research Report., Sydney.

[iii] Austrade, 2020. Australian Complementary Medicines Export Statistics 2016-2019, Canberra.

Diabetes and the emotional health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people

This week,13-17 July, is Diabetes Australia’s National Diabetes Week. The focus this year is on the mental and emotional health issues faced by people with diabetes. 


More research into evidence about diabetes-specific emotional and mental health problems in ATSI people is needed.


Greater risk

Type 2 diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease in Australia, and people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) origin are at even greater risk. ATSI people are almost four times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Because of this, the risk of developing complications from diabetes (including kidney and eye diseases, heart attack and stroke) also occur at a younger age. The successful prevention and management of diabetes in these communities encompasses a broader picture involving economic and social factors plus political intervention.


Mental and emotional health issues

As well as the physical challenges of diabetes, mental challenges exist. Almost 500,000 people with diabetes will experience mental or emotional health issues this year[i]. The prevalence of mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety, appears to be more common in people with diabetes compared to the general population, including ATSI communities. But more research is vital since evidence about diabetes-specific emotional and mental health problems in ATSI people is scant.


Evaluation methods

Among the type of evaluation methods regarding anxiety and depression available, a clinical interview is preferred. But language or cultural barriers may provide a challenge. Cultural sensitivities also play a part. For example, the appropriateness of written ‘pen and paper’ questionnaires or a ‘one-on-one’ questioning style may not be acceptable, especially if the health professional is a stranger to the Indigenous person.


Where possible, and with permission, health professionals are working with Indigenous health workers to help distinguish the cultural elements of the person’s clinical presentation. Identifying various aspects that may indicate a mental health problem all the while bearing in mind language barriers and culturally appropriate practice.

Mental health screening

The development of culturally appropriate mental health screening for ATSI people is an important and growing area of work. A number of guidelines currently exist regarding mental health assessment in ATSI communities exist[ii]. Plus, culturally targeted information is being disseminated via audio-visual touchscreens around Australia including to some of Australia’s most remote communities. These provide vital health information and may be a way to determine emotional health. There were over 50 hubs in 2016[iii]These and more vital services are set to grow as improving the lives of people affected by all types of diabetes and those at risk among ATSI communities is a priority for Diabetes Australia[iv].



Mental health support for people with diabetes and their families is vital for all. Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Beyond Blue (1300 224 636), Lifeline (13 11 14) or Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).

For more information about the Heads Up on Diabetes campaign, please visit www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/national-diabetes-week. 


[i] https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/national-diabetes-week-2020-heads-up-on-diabetes 

[ii] https://www.telethonkids.org.au/globalassets/media/documents/aboriginal-health/working-together-second-edition/working-together-aboriginal-and-wellbeing-2014.pdf

[iii] https://www.naccho.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Diabetes-Story-presentation.pdf 

[iv] https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islanders

Australian Complementary Medicines: the highest standards in the world  

Because consumers want to take control of their health, interest in natural and complementary medicines continues to grow. Consumers of Australian complementary medicines can be confident that they are manufactured according to the highest standards in the world. Operated under the auspices of the government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, medicinal requirements establish and maintain the highest quality, safety and efficacy standards. 


The herb Andrographis has been used traditionally for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, western herbal medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Recently, there has been some media coverage of reported increases in the side effects relating to the use of one of Australia’s most popular immune health herbs - Andrographis. These side effects may include some loss of taste and appetite, which are similar to some of the symptoms of infection with COVID 19. The increase in Australians taking immune-supporting supplements during the COVID-19 pandemic may be behind the small rise in reports of taste sensation side effects.

Andrographis explained

Used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine, western herbal medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties, Andrographis paniculatacontains andrographolide, a terpenoid compound shown to have antiviral effects, including against viruses that cause respiratory infections. When taken at the first sign of cold symptoms – i.e. used acutely rather than long-term – Andrographis may help to prevent a cold from developing with full force and may help to ease the symptoms of mild upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). Andrographis can be used to relieve symptoms of mild fever, the common cold and sore throat. It is strongly recommended that consumers always follow the directions on the label and for a pharmacy-only product, follow the advice of a healthcare professional. 

Andrographis is indicated for the relief of symptoms of mild URTIs: May reduce the severity of symptoms associated with uncomplicated URTIs e.g. cough, expectoration, nasal discharge, headache, fever, sore throat, earache, fatigue and sleep disturbance.

Potential causes of taste disturbance 

Many factors can affect the sense of taste (and smell, which are very closely related). These include the ageing process, particularly after the age of 60. 
Some other factors that may contribute include: 

- Nasal and sinus problems, such as allergies, sinusitis or nasal polyps

- Certain medications, including beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

- Dental problems

- Cigarette smoking

- Head or facial injury

- Alzheimer's disease

- Parkinson's disease.

Colds and flu can cause temporary loss of smell and taste, which usually comes back within a week or two. However, the return of these senses can be unpredictable and, in some cases, can be permanent. 

Zinc deficiency

Zinc is an essential trace element for all forms of life. Situations of stress, acute trauma and infection can lead to lower zinc levels. Mild deficiency in zinc may also lead to impaired taste sensation. A 2011-2012 ABS survey found more than one in three males (37%) and one in ten females (9%) had inadequate usual zinc intakes.

The importance of healthcare professional advice

Andrographis is available widely including in practitioner-only products dispensed by a healthcare professional.   Consumers should always follow the directions on the label. 

If any adverse symptoms develop, it is important to stop taking the product as soon as possible and seek medical advice.


Anyone who suspects they have COVID-19 should be tested. Furthermore, in discussing their health with a GP, it is important to talk about all the medicines being taken, including supplements. 

Well researched, responsibly formulated, evidence-based, high-quality products

Consumers can be assured that Australian complementary medicines companies regularly monitor product use and report trends; this is standard pharmacovigilance procedure in Australia. As such, pharmacies and the government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration have already been contacted to inform them of increased trends.

Australian complementary medicines are tested regularly and comprehensively to ensure that the ingredients on the label are those in the bottle and the many strict processes put in place ensure that consumers have access to well researched, responsibly formulated, evidence-based, high-quality products.


1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4002847 

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK71143/

3. Bensky D. Chinese herbal medicine materia medica. 3rd Ed. 2015

4. Saxena RC, Singh R, Kumar P, et al. A randomized double blind placebo controlled clinical evaluation of extract of Andrographis paniculate (KalmCold) in patients with uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection. Phytomedicine: international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology 2010;17(3-4):178-85.

5. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/expert-answers/loss-of-taste-and-smell/faq-20058455#:~:text=However%2C%20other%20factors%20can%20contribute,%2Dconverting%20enzyme%20(ACE)%20inhibitorsaccessed 07/07/2020

6. Healthdirect. Anosmia.https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/anosmia-loss-of-smellaccessed 07/07/2020

7. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University.https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/zinc

8. ABS Australian Health Survey: usual nutrient intakes 201112

https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.008~2011-12~Main%20Features~Zinc~408accessed 07/07/2020

Probiotics: the evidence and the standards you can expect from Australian  supplements

Probiotics are living microorganisms that boost health when consumed in adequate amounts. There are many different types, and they can be obtained from foods and supplements.

Mounting evidence supports the role of specific probiotic strains in several conditions.

There are ten times more microbial cells living in and on the body1 than body cells. Hundreds of different types of microorganisms and strains interact differently with the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system. More and more research is examining the complex functioning of the human gut flora or microbiome and its effects on mind and body. In fact, the metabolic activities of the gut microbiome are so complex that they have been likened to an organ and some scientists refer to the microbiome as the forgotten organ2.

Widely researched

Probiotics are widely researched for their effects on digestive health and mounting evidence supports the role of specific probiotic strains in several conditions.  These include3:

  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD)

The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) Board of Directors state: “All hospital formularies should stock at least one appropriately tested probiotic. Further, all physicians should consider recommending appropriately tested probiotics for their patients for whom they prescribe antibiotics”4.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Many studies show probiotics may help to ease symptoms such as occasional diarrhoea, gas, bloating or distension. The benefits can be meaningful and very helpful to people with such symptoms that severely impact the quality of life5 6.

  • Allergy

The World Allergy Organisation recommends probiotic use for the primary prevention of eczema7.

  • Infant health

Potential benefits of probiotics have been seen for infants with pre-term infant NEC, colic, diarrhoea, and the reduction of antibiotic use8. Of these probiotics, Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG is one of the most well studied and effective probiotics in children9.

Individual variation

As with any supplement or medicine, diet, lifestyle, health status, genetics and microbiome differences contribute to variations in an individual’s response. Peer-reviewed literature used by reputable academic boards such as ISAPP, and placebo-controlled trials demonstrate clear, clinical benefits for the use of probiotics.

Understanding how the microbiome influences the response to any therapy and how to personalise treatment are exciting areas of research. But this kind of precision medicine does not negate the value of therapies based on randomised, placebo-controlled trials that can show the overall benefit for the group of individuals studied.

Antibiotics and probiotics

There is a significant body of research demonstrating that certain strains of probiotics can assist with the prevention and treatment of antibiotic associated gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as microbiome-related outcomes. However one 2018 study caused some confusion10.

Israel’s Dr Eran Segal found that one probiotic might delay the restoration of gut bacteria in individuals taking antibiotics compared to individuals who took antibiotics alone. Yet a number of challenges may have been identified including that the probiotic was not administered until seven days after treatment, after the damage by the antibiotics had been done.

The study did not track clinical outcomes, and there were potential methodological issues with the microbiome data leading the researchers to these conclusions. Further, the particular probiotic used in the study has no clinical evidence that it assists with antibiotic-associated gastrointestinal symptoms. However, several probiotic strains have been well-studied for clinical benefits alongside antibiotic use11.  

Dozens of human studies with specific probiotics have documented that probiotics help against AAD or C. difficile infection. And in most clinical trials, the probiotic is administered together with the antibiotics.

Safety of probiotics

There are no recognised long term consequences of taking probiotics but it is important to be cautious regarding probiotic use in immunocompromised individuals; it is important to seek the advice of a healthcare practitioner.

Australian standards differentiate Australian products

In Australia, probiotics are regulated as medicines. Claims must comply with the TGA Levels of Evidence Guidelines, evidence likely to be based on strains. The identification and enumeration of the probiotics as per the clinical trial/s is stated.

These pharmaceutical standards differentiate Probiotics in the Australian market versus those in the US Dietary Supplements market for example.

The TGA classifies probiotics as therapeutic goods and Commonwealth legislation applies to all states and territories. The legislation stipulates various Regulations, Therapeutic Goods Orders and Guidelines which companies and manufacturers are obliged to conform to. Probiotics in Australia are produced under the Pharmaceutical model which follows the Pharmaceutical Inspection Conventions Scheme (PICs), an international-based pharmaceutical code of GMP. Dietary Supplements in the USA need to conform to a code of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) considered the highest standard of GMP.


1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1500832

2 https://www.sciencealert.com/how-many-bacteria-cells-outnumber-human-cells-microbiome-science

3 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32289131/

4 https://isappscience.org/isapp-take-home-points-from-american-gastroenterological-association-guidelines-on-probiotic-use-for-gastrointestinal-disorders/

5 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19622191/

6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19236549/

7 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25628773/

8 https://academic.oup.com/eurpub/article/29/3/494/5094938).

9 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/apt.15267

10 https://www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(18)31108-5.pdf

11 https://isappscience.org/clinical-evidence-not-microbiota-outcomes-drive-value-probiotics/


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