Five things you need to know about Natural Medicines
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Five things you need to know about Natural Medicines

Natural medicines are playing a more integral part in the pharmacy, hospital and clinical decision-making process, but what are they and how are they relevant to today’s healthcare ecosystem?

In this article, we take a look at five fundamental things you need to know about natural medicines.

1. Natural medicines are regulated in Australia

According to the Therapeutics Goods Administration, in Australia, medicinal products containing such ingredients as herbs, vitamins, minerals, nutritional supplements, homeopathic and certain aromatherapy preparations are referred to as ‘complementary medicines’ and are regulated as medicines under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act).

A complementary medicine is defined in the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990 as a therapeutic good consisting principally of one or more designated active ingredients mentioned in Schedule 14 of the Regulations, each of which has a clearly established identity and traditional use.

2. The demand for natural medicines is growing

The rise of patient demand for natural and alternative approaches to medicine means that our healthcare system has become more agile to adapt and meet patient expectations. In fact, as early as 2000, the increased demand was recognised as something public health needed to take more seriously. Research from the University of Western Sydney revealed that in 2000 alone an estimated $2.3 billion was spent by Australians on complementary medicine (CM) products and therapists. Half to three quarters of Australians used a CM product each year and between 15-30% visited a practitioner.

Fast-track to today, and Australian industry has now been estimated to be worth $3.5 billion in 2015, and expecting to grow to $4.6 billion in 2017-2018.

This growing utilisation of products and therapists has now led to an increased focus by Government, conventional medical and complementary medicine practitioners and the public on the evidence base for the efficacy and safety of products and therapies.

3. Patients understand where natural medicines fit into healthcare

According to Complementary Medicines Australia, Australian consumers understand that complementary medicines such as natural medicines are not a replacement for conventional medicines or prescription medicines. Rather, patients understand they can be used to enhance overall wellbeing and for maintenance of health.

This means doctors are regularly faced with patients who are using or who ask for natural medicines, complementary or alternative treatments, and the physician needs to have the right decision tools to respond.

4. There are more natural medicine options than you may think

While there are some common natural medicines that are a part of daily clinical and pharmaceutical decision-making, there are in fact, around 100,000 natural medicines available on the market.

In fact, the Natural MedicinesTM database from TRC® Healthcare,  author of the most comprehensive commercial products database in the world, holds information for over 100,000 natural medicine brands. And with natural medicines evolving and growing rapidly, the database is updated daily to keep healthcare professionals on top of the latest changes and additions to dietary supplements, natural medicines, and integrative therapies.

5. Technology is making it easier for health to understand natural medicines

As healthcare becomes more digitally empowered, there are now a number of innovations that are facilitating better clinical, hospital and pharmaceutical decision-making when it comes to natural medicines. For instance, TRC’s Natural Medicines easily searchable tool gives clinicians the tools they need to make informed, evidence-based decisions about dietary supplements, natural medicines, and integrative therapies. With features such as a drug interactions checker, comparative effectiveness tool, adverse effects checker and nutrient depletion checker, the web-based solution offers access to resources, information and monographs about natural medicines in real-time.

And with technology becoming an enabler for easier and wider access to these tools in healthcare, MedicalDirector’s medicines information team has partnered with TRC to offer the platform’s capabilities to AusDI customers, enabling healthcare professionals to get a clearer picture of both conventional and natural medicines, in order to make more informed and accurate choices for patients.

To learn more about Natural Medicines database from TRC Healthcare, contact Hai Nguyen at

TRC, Natural Medicines, Therapeutic Research Center and associated TRC product marks included in this document are trademarks of Therapeutic Research Center®.