Read the label: natural health products

Transcript - Read the Label - Natural Health Products

Transcript - Read the Label - Natural Health Products

There are thousands of natural health products on the market in Canada - everything from vitamin and mineral supplements to herbal remedies.

Do you ever wonder whether anyone is checking the safety of these products?

"Natural health products sold in Canada are regulated by the Natural Health Product Regulations. The Regulations provide assurances to consumers that what is on the label is in the bottle. So it's important to look at the label, and to look for the Natural Product Number or the Homeopathic Medicine Number. That's an 8-digit number that indicates to consumers that the product has been reviewed and assessed for safety and health claim by Health Canada. So again, the label is a very important part of the bottle, and it's important to read it. It contains information such as a complete list of medicinal ingredients, and non-medicinal ingredients, the dosage, how to take the product, and any kinds of warning or risk statements. For example, if that product happens to have reactions to prescription drugs, it's important to know that, and that will be on the label. And similarily, the product might be something that's not recommended for people that have certain conditions like diabetes."

What about the claims on the label? How do you know if the product works?

"Here at the Natural Health Products Directorate, we review products for three things: safety, efficacy and quality. We do this by looking at information provided to us by the manufacturers. Depending on the type of product we're assessing, the health claim authorized by Health Canada is based on the traditional use of the product, published studies, established product standards and small-scale patient trials. It is important to note that there is a difference between a well-known product that has been used safely for generations, and a new formulation or a new proposed use for a product."

"So from the consumers perspective, it's really important to look at the label. If there is no number on the label, it means that Health Canada has not reviewed that product for safety and efficacy. So look for the NPN or DIN-HM on the label."

More natural health products are being licensed by Health Canada every day. So far, over 20,000 products have been licensed. Remember, you have to read the label.

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