Today more and more people are turning to natural health products (NHPs) to prevent health problems, treat minor ailments, or find a supplement or alternative to prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
Natural health products include vitamins, minerals, medicinal plants, homeopathic remedies, and probiotics. Many people perceive NHPs as pure and safe, with no risks of undesirable side effects. The truth is, like all health products, NHPs must be treated with care.
While NHPs are generally safe, some may mix poorly with prescription drugs or other NHPs. Manufacturing defects present other risks (incorrect dosages, contamination). Be on the watch for NHPs that make unproven claims or have undesirable side effects. A few years ago Canada instituted a licensing system designed to better regulate NHP sales and protect the health of all Canadians. Before using an NHP you should exercise the same care as with any other medication: talk to your health professional, research licensed products (with a natural product number or homeopathic remedy number), get informed about interactions and potential undesirable side effects, carefully read the label, and make sure to follow recommended dosages.