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  • 05 Aug 2021 12:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In a recent article in Australian Prescriber: ‘The safety of commonly used vitamins and minerals’, dated 2 August 2021, Dr Geraldine Moses says that: "Dietary supplements have a range of potential risks and few benefits” and that “Consumers should be aware that there is no case for vitamin or other supplements in normal healthy people who are not pregnant or breastfeeding.” CMA respectfully disagrees.

    According to researchers writing in the American Journal of Nutrition, Enhancing iron absorption. 100 mg of vitamin C may improve iron absorption by 67%.

    Risks of dietary supplements - Interactions do exist, in a similar way that foods can also interact with drugs. Fortunately, decades of research have shown there are only a small handful that are clinically significant.  

    Dose is also important - just like every medicine when the dosage is too high, side effects my result. Geraldine Moses fails to mention that the very high doses required to result in side effects are clinically challenging to consume and unlikely to occur under normal supplemental intake.

    Manufacturers of Australian complementary medicines recommend appropriate dosages on the labels. The TGA requires at least 25% of the recommended daily intake to make statements about the role of vitamins and minerals in the body.

    Contrary to Dr Moses’ statement:Unlike conventional medicines, manufacturers of vitamins and minerals are not required to provide warnings of their potential side effects,” warnings ARE required on supplement labels or before point of purchase.

    More than 25 mandatory warnings apply to a variety of nutrients.

    Increasing health literacy

    Geraldine Moses does not acknowledge the health literacy of the Australian public either; CMA believes growing understanding is inspiring people to take increasing control of their health. Using individually-sought or shared research with the advice of health professionals (from pharmacists and integrative GPs to nutritionists, dentists and more) and by paying close attention to the individual effects that supplements are having, an increasing number of people are using nutritional supplements as an essential part of their therapeutic and preventive approaches to good health.

    Geraldine Moses says there a few benefits of dietary supplements. Again, CMA disagrees and we present a small number of examples.

    Vitamin D

    “Some people may not be able to spend enough time in the sun or may not be able to produce vitamin D easily. Health professionals may recommend vitamin D supplements after considering individual circumstances, including whether vitamin D deficiency is present and how severe it is.”

    According to NPS Medicine Wise

    Vitamin B12

    According to HealthDirect: “Vitamin B12 deficiency can be caused by not eating enough foods that contain Vitamin B12, especially meat and animal products. More often it is caused by the body not being able to absorb the Vitamin B12 properly.

    According to Harvard Health: “Older adults can have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12, and  have a lower threshold when checking this level; if someone is taking an acid-reducing medication, it is very likely that they will become deficient in B12, as well as iron, vitamin D, and calcium, among other things. This cohort may very well benefit from a quality multivitamin.”

    Iron deficiency anaemia

    According to Australian Prescriber: Correcting iron deficiency anaemia: “Oral iron replacement is the most appropriate first-line treatment in the majority of patients.” 

    Vitamin C

    According to researchers writing in the American Journal of Nutrition, Enhancing iron absorption. 100 mg of vitamin C may improve iron absorption by 67%. Thus, vitamin C may help reduce the risk of anaemia among people prone to iron deficiency.

    B vitamins

    According the researchers, “B complex deficiency in alcoholism primarily arises due to malnutrition or intake of a diet deficient in necessary vitamins and minerals. Additionally, alcohol consumption exacerbates the effect of a poor diet and reduces absorption of B vitamins.

    Consuming 24g alcohol (240ml red wine or 80ml vodka) per day for two weeks leads to a decrease in folate and B12 levels in healthy individuals.”

    Poor nutritional status

    The long-term consumption of poor dietary quantity (e.g., due to loss of appetite) or quality (e.g., restrictive, unbalanced, or low-nutrient dense diets increase the risk of poor nutritional status. In older age groups, many changes, including physical, physiological, and psychosocial factors make it more difficult for nutritional needs to be met, leading to shortfalls in nutrients.

    Contrary to Dr Moses’ comments, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that a number of Australians are not meeting vitamin and mineral requirements.



    Approximately one in twelve (9%) adult females (aged 19 and over) did not meet their requirements for folate (dietary folate equivalents) based on their intakes from foods.


    Approximately 7% of males and 16% of females had inadequate thiamine intakes.


    Approximately 17% of males and 14% of females had inadequate usual intakes of vitamin A (as retinol equivalents)..


    Three in every ten people aged two years and over had an inadequate intake of vitamin B6.


    The proportion of females aged 14 years and over with inadequate usual intakes of vitamin B12 ranged from 5 to 8% for different age groups.



    Three in four females aged two years and over (73%) did not meet their calcium requirements, compared with one in two males of the same age group (51%).


    One in eight people aged two years and over had inadequate usual intakes of iron. The prevalence of inadequate intakes was highest amongst females aged 14-50 years, with nearly two in five having inadequate iron intakes.


    One in three people aged two years and over (37% of males and 34% of females) did not meet their requirements for magnesium. Inadequate intakes of magnesium were more common in those aged nine years and over, with 61% of males aged 14 to 18 years consuming less than their requirements for magnesium, and 72% of females of the same age.


    More than one in three males (37%) and one in ten females (9%) had inadequate usual zinc intakes. The greatest prevalence of inadequacy was among males 71 years and over, where 66% had inadequate zinc intakes.

  • 03 Aug 2021 1:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Half of all Australians take expensive vitamin and mineral supplements, but they are not always harmless shout the headlines in today’s newspaper, but is this sweeping statement factually correct? Is the researcher applying this broad declaration to every supplement available in Australia?


    The audacious blanket statements made in the published article by Geraldine Moses are just untrue.

    Australia has the most highly regulated environment in the world for complementary medicines’ quality and safety. A manufacturer’s use of the AUST L or AUST R number on the label proudly displays the fact that the product has been regulated to minimise the possibility of side effects. Side effects are rare and all listed in the Database of Adverse Event Notifications (DAEN).


    Dr Geraldine Moses from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Queensland has flagged potential harms associated with using dietary supplements in the journal Australian Prescriber and subsequently reported in The Courier Mail and other news outlets. Here are ten questions that arise from her latest and well-worn attack on complementary medicines.

    1. “One reason for the persistent popularity of vitamins and minerals is the perception that they are harmless.”

    Is the author suggesting that people take supplements because they are harmless and not for their health benefits? Indeed, this is a blanket insult to the intelligence of the public.

    2. “Like all medicines, supplements can cause potential harm. Still, unlike conventional medicines, manufacturers of vitamins and minerals are not required to provide warnings of their potential side effects, drug interactions or risks from an overdose.” 


    Interactions exist in a similar way in which foods can also interact with drugs. Fortunately, decades of research have shown there is only a small handful that are clinically significant. The industry produces interaction checkers for healthcare Practitioners. For example, Blackmores Institute produces one that is reviewed by academics at Sydney University and offer practical training for pharmacists via their training portal.


    Dose matters - like every medicine, too high, and you get side effects. Geraldine Moses fails to mention that the high doses required to result in side effects are clinically challenging to consume. Manufacturers of Australian complementary medicines recommend dosages on the labels.


    Geraldine Moses does not acknowledge the health literacy of the Australian public, which CMA believes is inspiring people to take increasing control of their health. Using individually-sought or shared research with the advice of health professionals (from pharmacists and integrative GPs to nutritionists, dentists and more), more and more people are using nutritional supplements as an essential part of their therapeutic and preventive approaches to good health. The industry takes the training of health care practitioners and pharmacy assistants seriously, with a significant focus on these areas.

    3. “Vitamins and mineral supplements are not all they are cracked up to be and can bring false hope and disappointment.”

    We are not sure which supplements the researchers believe: “not all they are cracked up to be.” Nor which supplements bring false hope. The author comments on a diverse range of the supplements available in Australia, from fish oils to probiotics, iron supplements to vitamin D, turmeric to CoQ10; it is unclear just what Geraldine Moses is referring to.


    Australians choose different supplements for many reasons, and a myriad of evidence supports their nutritional health benefits. Making blanket statements is not just inaccurate; it is unworthy.

    4. “Vitamin supplements may be a waste of money.”

    Another broad-ranging and vague statement, which is much less helpful than a definitive statement, might have been.

    5. “Eating too much of certain antioxidants may increase mortality rate.”

    It would be interesting to know which ones are being referred to and for which group of society.

    6.“The expensive products are big sellers and used by almost half of all Australians.”

    Over seven out of 10 Australians use complementary medicines. Just as any products that have been researched and formulated, regulated and distributed, costs are incurred. CMA does not and cannot put a price on a person’s preventive and therapeutic health choices.

    7. “Manufacturers are not required to provide warnings of potential side effects, drug interactions or risks from overdose.”

    The label warnings on Australian complementary medicines clearly state dosage instructions and consult a health professional if symptoms persist. Certain complementary medicines can only be purchased via health professionals, including pharmacists, naturopaths and dentists. Discussing the use of medicines – including complementary medicines – is an essential part of effective health literacy.

    As already mentioned, the industry holds training sessions for pharmacy staff and health professionals. It encourages free-flowing and ongoing communication to protect and support customers’ health while promoting the education of healthcare professionals and staff.

    8. “What many people don’t realise is that high doses of some supplements can be dangerous.”

    Again, improving health literacy and the encouragement of dynamic and robust communication with health professionals is vital. Consumers are also strongly advised to read and abide by the warning statements on the labels. The complementary medicines industry is in the business of health protection. It will do everything possible to ensure customers understand the medicines that they are using and that they obtain the advice of a health professional to guard their wellbeing at every stage.

    9. “Another thing to remember is that the same vitamin or mineral can be in multiple different products, so a person can accidentally overdose if those products are all taken together.”


    Once more, transparent and honest dialogue with health professionals and individuals is vital. The risk of overdose is small; however, taking numerous supplements with the same ingredients can be dangerous.

    Labels on Australian complementary medicines have clear guidelines on dosage and instruction. These labels provide relevant consumer warnings for well-established information. Consumers should read and adhere to the dosage directions and warnings on the label and talk to a healthcare professional should they feel overdosing on supplements or prescription medicines, or over-the-counter medicines.


    10.“Vitamin and mineral supplements can be important to treat certain illnesses or nutritional deficiencies. For example, vitamin B3 can be used for high cholesterol, and folic acid can be used in pregnancy to prevent birth defects. When used for general wellness, however, their risks may outweigh their benefits.”

    CMA must question this incredibly bold statement that the use of vitamin and mineral supplements for general wellness that the risks may outweigh the benefit. Do the authors disagree with the use of iron supplements to treat anaemia? Or vitamin D supplements for up to 40% of Australians with diagnosed deficiency? Or B12  for the increasing number of people choosing a plant-based diet? Or fibre supplements for the easing of constipation and more? This audacious blanket statement is incorrect.


    CMA reiterates the need for consumers to communicate with their doctor and pharmacist when choosing complementary medicines. Whether the consumer has a medical condition or risk factor or is taking specific prescription or over-the-counter medications are important factors that should be considered.


    CMA is justly proud of the Australian complementary medicines industry. Increasing knowledge and understanding of customers, growing education on complementary medicines and pharmaceutical medicines for healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, pharmacy assistants and more; this, teamed with the increasing demand for high-quality Australian supplements, has resulted in an Australian success story. Ours is the most highly regulated environment for complementary medicines globally, and it means that consumers can be confident about the quality and safety of Australian complementary medicines.

  • 28 Jul 2021 1:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Australian public is more educated about health than ever before and more than seven out of ten of us now use some form of complementary medicine to support our health. This diverse range of treatments include:

    • herbal medicines

    • vitamin, mineral and nutritional supplements

    • probiotics

    • Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicines and more.

    “Australian complementary medicines are among the safest in the world, manufactured to the highest pharmaceutical standards."

    A recent newspaper story reports that as well as liver toxic pharmaceutical drugs such as paracetamol and antibiotics, other pharmaceutical drugs and supplements may be involved in liver damage in a small number of cases.

    Where referring to complementary medicines, the researchers do not reveal the ingredients in the products or whether these products are single- or multigradient formulations. Further, we are not told whether these products are from Australia or bought from overseas; all of these factors make accurate commentary and response difficult.

    What researchers do reveal, is that the products fall into the categories of muscle growth in males and weight-loss in women.

    With regards to bodybuilding supplements in males, it is mere speculation as to whether the products examined contained anabolic steroids. There are no Australian complementary supplements listed on the Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA’s) Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods that contain such ingredients. For females, the story cites weight-loss supplements. Again, the affected products, their source and the ingredients investigated are not provided, making accurate commentary difficult.

    It is known that both bodybuilding supplements and weight-loss supplements are more likely to be imported for personal use and when tested are more likely to include ingredients that are not declared on the label.

    Look at the label
    Complementary medicines including herbal medicines that are supplied to consumers in Australia (with an AUST L or AUST R number on the label) are regulated to minimise the possibility of liver associated side effects including the absence of herbs with well-known
    effects. In those where reactions are very rare and without known cause, they come with consumer safety information or warnings, similar to pharmaceutical medicines that pose a similar rare risk of liver effects.

    CMA reiterates the following factors to support health when choosing complementary medicines.

    1. Beware of products purchased from overseas that may contain unlabelled and potentially harmful ingredients.
    Some overseas-based products may be adulterated and non-compliant with Australian
    regulations. The ingredients are may either not be listed or their concentrations inaccurately reported.

    2. Trust in Australian made
    Australia has the most highly regulated environment in the world for complementary medicines quality and safety. Manufacturing is required to adhere to pharmaceutical standards under principles of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and products meet specific guidelines set by the TGA.

    In the Australian regulatory system, all complementary medicines (bearing an AUST L or AUST R number) that contain herbs must undergo identification tests to ensure each herb is what it says it is. This stringent
    governing has resulted in discerning consumers choosing Australian-made products and has made the Australians' complementary medicines industry a national and worldwide success story.

    3. Follow the instructions on the label
    Labels on Australian complementary medicines have clear guidelines on dosage and instruction. These labels provide relevant consumer warnings for well-established information. If unsure of suitability or if other health concerns exist, consumers should seek the help of a healthcare professional before use.

    4. Better health literacy for all
    The researchers in the above story note that almost half the patients with supplement-induced liver damage were of non-European ethnic backgrounds. They called for more culturally appropriate community education about the risks of supplements. CMA agrees that more education is necessary regarding health literacy among the population including the use of all medicines
    particularly in regards to purposeful overconsumption or potentially higher risks of imported products not regulated under the therapeutic goods scheme in Australia.

    CMA welcomes greater investment in improving heath literacy. Recent data tells us that only
    39% of the population find it always easy to understand health information well enough to know what to do1.It is well known that people with low health literacy are more likely to have worse health outcomes overall and adverse health behaviours, including ability to self-manage care.

    Further, targeting health literacy programs at diverse population groups has the potential to reduce health inequalities.

    Why it is difficult to agree with Dr Harvey

    Self-professed and very vocal critic of complementary medicines and the TGA, Dr Ken Harvey, commented that the study only examined severe cases of supplement-induced liver harm saying that the actual rate of damage was likely to be much higher. This is also difficult to agree with since the studies ingredients are not stated and because all recorded events to complementary medicines are reported and available to the public on the TGA’s Database of Adverse Event Notifications (DAEN).

    The published article cited 115 cases of paracetamol induced liver injury in the same time period, and it is not clear whether Dr Harvey also believes that the rate of damage of this substance is also much higher than stated in the study, or which information warrants these types of claims.

    Australia takes each report extremely seriously

    “Australian complementary medicines are among the safest in the world, manufactured to the highest pharmaceutical standards. We lead the world in adverse reporting process and take each and every single report extremely seriously to ensure consumer safety. CMA welcomes detailed investigation and examination by the research community to inform and strengthen our high-quality standards,” ends Carl Gibson.

  • 21 Jun 2021 11:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear editor, AJP

    I was very disappointed to see that a respectable publication such as MJA would run a biased one-sided story by Dr Ken Harvey, without commentary from the TGA or CMA, the industry Association.


    "Dr Harvey is incorrect and biased": Carl Gibson.

    If you had reached out to me, I would have told you that Dr Harvey is incorrect and biased before you ran a story that is wholly wrong.


    The latest Aust-Listed (Assessed) product has been through two years of rigorous review by the TGA. The highly respected and world class medicines regulator that is the TGA which assesses evidence not Dr Harvey and his merry band of naysayers.

    Dr Harvey does not have all the facts, or the latest evidence and you should know by now that he is clearly biased against our industry. However, you ran the one-sided piece without any thought on the damage this does to the reputation of the Regulator or the new Registration Pathway, which is designed to encourage investment in the evidence base for complementary medicines.


    Yours sincerely

    Carl Gibson, Chief Executive Officer, Complementary Medicines Australia

    That was the letter sent by our CEO to the editor. Here is some more background reading ...

    Why now more than ever, consumers of Australian complementary medicines can feel more confident about the science than ever before

    Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA) and the Australian complementary medicines industry promote appropriate regulation of our industry and advancement for this world-class industry supporting jobs nationally and internationally. We work to ensure that consumers have access to complementary medicines of the highest quality and the strict regulations within which Australian complementary medicines are manufactured in Australia means that consumers can be assured of the highest quality, efficacy, and safety. The extremely high standard to which Australian complementary medicines are manufactured also means that they are prized around the world for these reasons.


    Whether natural medicines are registered or listed on the Australian Register or Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), Australian complementary medicines, are manufactured in licensed or approved facilities that follow the principles of good manufacturing practice (GMP).


    AUST L (A) are assessed for efficacy

    The TGA recently introduced the Aust L (A) system; it gives sponsors of

    complementary medicines a new pathway. Medicines that carry the new AUST L (A) on

    their label is 'assessed listed' medicines; they have had their health claims extensively

    assessed for efficacy. The TGA examines and assesses the presented evidence

    in detail, and it is this due diligence that means that consumers can be assured that extensive evidence supports the indications made on the label.

    For more information, please see the TGA website:

  • 14 May 2021 2:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CMA supports the evidence-based research that underpins Australian weight loss supplements. Weight gain is multifactorial in nature, and so is weight loss. 

    An onoing healthy diet and regular exericise are vital losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight - there is no silver bullet 

    Complementing a healthy lifestyle

    It is essential to acknowledge that complementary medicines for weight loss are just that – complementary to a healthy lifestyle. Where it comes to losing weight, there is no magic bullet. A determined mindset and a real commitment to adopting and maintaining a more nutritious reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise are essential. Advertisements for any therapeutic goods, including complementary medicines that contain any claim relating to weight management, must balance the claims with the need for a healthy energy‑controlled diet and regular physical activity.


    Complementary and traditional medicines are wide-ranging and have been used globally to complement a healthy lifestyle for thousands of years and are backed by traditional and medical research. They play many beneficial roles when used to address specific deficiencies or health requirements when taken as recommended. An integrative approach to taking medicines, including complementary medicines, speaks to the fundamentals of the principles of quality use. 

    Obesity – a growing health challenge

    Most Australians – around two thirds  are overweight, and people are keen to explore ways to aid weight loss. One such method may be complementary medicines.


    The complementary nature of these ingredients, which carry mild or low-level weight-loss claims, also speaks to their low level of side effects. When complementing physical activity and a healthy energy-controlled diet, these are substances whose ongoing safety profile permits them to be offered self-selection by consumers. Sometimes these ingredients offer additional positive effects to health and wellbeing, such as enhancing blood flow or feelings of energy and wellbeing. 


    Ongoing care from a healthcare professional

    Informed consumers will inevitably have questions; complementary medicines manufacturers are committed to responding with detailed, professional advice backed by sturdy evidence used to support formulations. For ongoing health and healthy weight, it is important to obtain regular care from a healthcare professional. Offering consumers a choice in a range of potential options is an important factor as a part of self-determined care.


    Regulated to standards considered to be the global benchmark, manufacturers of natural health care products in Australia have a justified, respected reputation for quality and purity and do not promote them to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, including weight loss. The marketing and advertising of complementary medicines encourage the quality of products; it is socially responsible and does not mislead or deceive consumers.


    Evidence-based research

    Academics worldwide and the industry here in Australia are heavily involved in the practical application of evidence-based research to support the rational and effective use of ingredients. Robust evidence supports the use of single and multiple ingredients used in proprietary products. One of these is green tea; it contains caffeine found to aid fat burning and improve exercise performance.


    Before exercise, men who consumed caffeine consumption burned 17% more fat than men who didn’t take the supplement, which suggest that it can boost the fat-burning effects of exercise. Again, this benefit is complementary to a healthy lifestyle – it does not claim to replace it. Labels may state that ingredients increase satiety, promote healthy weight, and more – these are not intended to be compared to or replaced by pharmaceutical, prescription weight loss medications, some of which directly affect the brain’s satiety centre.


    Again, it must be stressed that these products are promoted as complementary medicines, i.e. they complement a healthy mixed weight-loss diet which remains the first line of weight reduction. They are not intended to be used alone and do not promise miraculous results without adopting lifestyle choices.


    The Australian complementary medicine industry is thriving because of increasing demand from consumers at home and internationally. This growth is backed by a global reputation for quality and safety and supported by a robust regulatory system that benefits.

    Committed to enhancing rigorous research

    Australia’s complementary medicines industry is committed to increasing and enhancing more rigorous research translating into practical benefits for consumers looking for traditional and scientific evidence-based preventive health choices.  

  • 06 May 2021 1:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What does sustainability mean to you and your company? That is one of the questions we asked Raffaele D'Alisa from the Blackmores group. Here’s what he shared with us.

    "When my children are my age, we will need three planets to meet our collective resource requirements."

    What is sustainability to you and your company?

    Blackmores was founded by a naturopath who understood that you could not have healthy people without a healthy planet. We continue to have a vision for a world where people and nature thrive together. We know that to have a legitimate and purpose-driven role in our community, sustainability and corporate citizenship needs to be ingrained into how we do business.

    There’s a traditional view of sustainability as energy, waste and water management and recyclable packaging. But being genuinely sustainable extends to the partnerships with our suppliers, our customers, our consumers, and our employees and truly understanding our impact on people and our natural world.

    For me personally, I’m driven by the knowledge that when my children are my age, we will need three planets to meet our collective resource requirements, so we need to start changing now if we’re going to secure their future.

    What actions are you taking to ensure ethical and sustainable practices?

    Blackmores Group has committed to net zero emissions by 2030. We have started by transitioning to renewable sources of energy and deploying a series of efficiency projects. We have a current focus on deepening our understanding of our supply chains and partnering with suppliers to measure and manage the elements that matter to our sustainable development; this started with assessing and addressing human rights risks in our supply chain. We’re working to understand the resilience of our ingredients and our operations to the impacts of climate change. We have started to scope what biodiversity loss could mean to future access to natural medicines. These issues focus on our engagement with our suppliers, where we are building awareness, diagnosing risks, and identifying short and longer-term solutions that provide win-win outcomes. Our view is that we need to have an evidence-based understanding of our precious natural ingredients and to take a solid position to ensure they are protected for future generations.

    What has the public asked for in this regard?

    Consumers are very focused on companies taking responsibility for their impact. Giving greater transparency about our products and their packaging will become increasingly important. What have been the challenges along the way? Progressing truly sustainable packaging is a fundamental challenge for us to address. We are aware that there is an intention for brands and manufacturers to take greater responsibility for the materials they use and expect regulation to evolve in the coming years. We are supportive of the focus on the delivery of the national packaging targets. We are working towards our own complementary sustainable packaging targets. But as therapeutic goods, it’s important not to lose focus on the protection of shelf life and product quality. We know that addressing packaging challenges means solving the right problem, not moving the issue to a different part of the value chain.

    It’s essential to do better now and be part of the systemic change that all consumer products will need to consider as we push towards a circular economy. Our packaging footprint is not limited to our bottles and containers, and B2B is about 40% of the total packaging mass put on the market. Hence, it is all aspects of the packaging ecosystem that we need to be mindful of. In support of both Modern Slavery mitigation, climate resilience and ethical sourcing, the lack of transparency in the extended supply chain remains a challenge faced not only by Blackmores but our industry as a whole.

    Our approach includes both contract-driven engagements and building these issues into the supplier relationship over the medium term to encourage the sharing of information and partnering in response.

    What has been relatively easy?

    We have been inspired by the support we’ve had from our team, our suppliers and from other companies who share our commitment to sustainability. We were concerned that the global pandemic would harm our sustainability progress. Still, interestingly there is a growing understanding of the importance of addressing our most significant global challenges. We’ve seen the benefits of being guided by science and taking responsibility for our impact through the COVID crisis, so mitigating our climate impacts seems more achievable than ever before.

    Will being sustainable cost more for the consumer?

    It’s misguided to believe that being sustainable costs more when it drives value through more efficient operations and more substantial corporate credibility and trust. There will be a higher cost in not addressing sustainability in the long term than investing in the right programs in the short term.

    What advances do you see in the future?

    We’re excited to see an intention to transform recycling systems and supporting markets for developing recycled content for packaging. We expect to see a convergence of consumer trends and sustainability solutions for carbon sequestration – for example, plant-based diets. We see rapid transformation in energy markets which is supporting our transition to renewables. There is going to be a stronger dialogue about climate change resilience and biodiversity impacts, and that will lead to change

  • 15 Mar 2021 3:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The marketing campaign that brought Australia's most trusted probiotic brand back to its number one position is CMA's 2021 Marketing award winner.

    The campaign supported Inner Health's evolution with the launch of 11 new shelf-stable, live, full-strength probiotics.

    Paula and the team accept the 2021 award for the best marketing campaign for the evolution of Inner Health

    Introducing probiotics to Australia 

    Paula Hann, Managing Director or Metagenics ANZ, says: "Inner Health introduced probiotics to Australia 30 years ago. Probiotics were refrigerated to protect the beneficial bacteria since they are sensitive to and destroyed by moisture and heat.

    As the market leader and pioneer of probiotics in Australia, Inner Health was proud to innovate and conduct in-depth education for consumers and health professionals, supporting the understanding of probiotics' many health benefits and the importance of gut health. Inner Health also pioneered the innovation of strain-specific probiotics to alleviate symptoms of certain health conditions.

    A few years ago, competitors began to enter the market with shelf-stable probiotics. Of course, convenience is important, and fridge-stored probiotics' sales began to decline in 2016-19, resulting in the brand losing its leadership position. Research showed, though, that brand recognition remained incredibly high at 84 per cent signally both public recognition and trust.

    From fridge to shelf

    "We were already considering whether the products could be moved from the fridge to the shelf," says Paula, "We were not happy with the results of our shelf stability trials for many of our strains. We launched a small range of shelf-stable probiotics that we had completed real-time stability on, and we're confident in the product integrity, but that was still a small part of our portfolio," Paula says.

    The catalyst to the now hugely successful product range was finding a suitable packaging solution. Harnessing Activ-Vial technology was the answer; the whole bottle acts as a desiccant, actively removing moisture from the inside of the bottle until the expiry of the product.

    Rigorous testing 

    Inner Health probiotics are blended and packaged in a temperature and humidity controlled environment at Metagenics' purpose-built manufacturing facility in Northgate, Brisbane; raw materials and finished products undergo rigorous testing by the Metagenics team of highly qualified microbiologist who tests, validate and enumerate Inner Health probiotics to ensure an efficacious live probiotic product.

    A business-wide approach

    "The whole business got behind this project. The range was launched in September 2019; the market was very receptive," says Paula. "People were welcoming as they trust and know the brand so well. The campaign was so well received that Inner Health has now regained the number one position in Australian pharmacies. It is really wonderful to see how our pharmacy partners and consumers have welcomed this transformed new range, and we will continue to innovate with our aim to help people live healthier, happier lives," Paula says.

    Paula and the Metagenics team know that the category will continue to grow as the science behind probiotics and the microbiome explodes. "The importance of gut health and the microbiome is still not broadly understood. In the not-too-distant future, the impact of the microbiome on whole-body health will become a critical factor in overall healthcare," Paula says.

    Efficacious and convenient

    The whole team is really humbled to win the award for the best marketing campaign and very proud. "This award will encourage us to continue providing the most efficacious products to our consumers in convenient forms and dosages. As always, the team is working very hard to continue to produce evidence-based products for the Australian market," ends Paula.

  • 18 Feb 2021 4:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Your heart is constantly working. The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute equivalent to 100,000 times a day, 3,600,000 times a year, and 2.5 billion times during a lifetime. Every day, your heart creates enough energy to drive a truck over 20km – over a lifetime, that is equivalent to going to the moon and back!

    Staggeringly, one in three women die of heart disease and it is still the number one killer in Australia with an estimated 1.2 million Australians being affected by some form of heart, stroke or vascular disease.

    Some of the most basic strategies to protect your heart include lifestyle changes to reduce heart disease risk. Staying within a healthy weight range, exercising regularly, enjoying a healthy, balanced diet as well as not smoking are just a few.

    Love your heart with these 11 nutrients for heart health.

    1. Soluble fibre

    Peas, beans, and lentils (as well as grains such as oats and barley) contain soluble fibre, which can reduce low-density lipoprotein or "bad cholesterol." Apples, pears, and avocados are also rich in soluble fibre.

    Experts recommend women consume 25g of dietary fibre per day and men 30g. Find practical ways to increase your fibre intake here. Choose porridge oats, wholegrains, peas, baked beans, lentils, baked potatoes, vegetables, and fruits.

    2. Omega-3 fats

    Omega-3 fats are essential fatty acids that help to maintain good cardiovascular health. The Heart Foundation recommends all Australians try to put fish on their dish 2–3 times a week (including oily fish) as part of a heart-healthy diet; this provides around 250–500 mg of marine-sourced omega-3s (eicosapentaenoic acid - EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid - DHA) per day. Studies show that consuming two or more salmon servings per week is associated with a 30% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease.

    Omega-3 fats reduce blood cholesterol, blood triglycerides and inflammation which are underlying causes of cardiovascular disease. Choose salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring at least twice a week.

    If you do not eat fish, the Heart Foundation recommends at least 500mg DHA + EPA per day for children and adults.

    Other important sources of omega-3 fats can be flaxseed and hemp seeds. Flaxseeds contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) only. The body converts ALA to EPA and DHA, but conversion is only around 5-15%

    3. Unsaturated fats

    Olive oil and nuts, including pecans, walnuts, and almonds, provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fats as do avocadoes.

    Research has shown eating one avocado every day for a week reduced LDL ('bad cholesterol') and triglyceride levels associated with heart disease, by an average of 17% while HDL ('good cholesterol') levels increased.

    4. Flavonoids

    Delicious dark chocolate is rich in heart-healthy flavonoids; eating it regularly may help reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease. Flavanols in dark chocolate affect two major risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This helps reduce inflammation and lower heart disease risk. Aim for around 20–30 g of dark, fair trade chocolate per day.

    5. Quercetin 

    Apples are a natural source of quercetin, a plant-derived flavonoid that contains natural anti-inflammatory properties. Other good sources are onions, broccoli, capers, citrus fruits, cherries, green tea, coffee, and red wine.

    6. Folate

    Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard contain large amounts of a B-group vitamin called folate. Folate helps maintain healthy levels of the amino acid (a type of protein) called homocysteine. People with raised homocysteine levels may be at higher risk of heart attacks, blood vessel diseases and stroke.

    7. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

    Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a naturally occurring antioxidant that exists in almost every cell of the human body (the active form is ubiquinol because it is ubiquitous throughout the body). The body makes CoQ10, but produces less with age. While CoQ10 provides energy for every cell in your body, heart muscles contain the highest amounts. Some cholesterol lowering medications affect CoQ10 production. Beef, organ meats such as liver and kidney, soy oil, sardines and mackerel contain CoQ10.

    8. Lycopene

    Lycopene is the plant antioxidant that gives tomatoes, watermelons, and pink grapefruit their red/pink colour and consumption is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

    Lycopene may help to lower the risk of developing or prematurely dying from heart disease.

    9. Magnesium

    Each body organ, including your heart, needs magnesium for normal functioning.

    Changes in the amounts of different minerals in your blood can affect many tissues, including your heart. Although your body only contains small amounts of magnesium, having too much or too little can affect the rhythm of the heart.

    Studies show that magnesium reduces blood pressure. Find magnesium in walnuts, spinach, and dark chocolate.

    10. Polyphenols

    Polyphenols help increase nitric oxide production in our body, which causes blood vessels to relax and dilate, thereby lowering blood pressure.

    A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed eating about a cup of mixed berries daily for eight weeks increased levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and lowered blood pressure and increasing levels of ‘good’ cholesterol.

    Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, bilberries plus beetroot are polyphenol packed.

    11. Resveratrol

    Resveratrol helps to reduce blood clotting and enhances antioxidant and nitric oxide production leading to lower blood pressure.

    Dark chocolate, red wine and grape juice contain resveratrol although processing and pasteurisation reduce grape juice content. You cannot get enough resveratrol from the diet (you would need to eat and drink unhealthy amounts) so you may want to consider a supplement.

    Lifestyle habits

    As well as a healthy diet full of healthy macro and micronutrients, it is important that your live a healthy lifestyle.

    Stub it out

    Avoiding tobacco is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart and blood vessels.

    Blast belly fat

    Belly fat is different from other fat types. Called visceral fat, belly fat coats your internal organs, triggering inflammation and raising blood pressure and unhealthy blood fats. Exercise, healthy diet and cutting down on excess alcohol can help.

    Get your heart rate pumping

    Vigorous exercise helps to work your heart and lungs. Choose something you love, and it will not be a chore.

    Experts recommend 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity; or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week.

    If you have not exercised for a while or are on medication, check with your health professional first.


    Try yoga to help bust stress while improving balance strength and flexibility. It may also help to reduce heart disease risk. And get adequate sleep – try setting a sleep and wake time and stick to it if you can.

    Enjoy alcohol in moderation

    Moderate consumption can be heart-healthy but can damage the heart when overconsumed. But stick to the recommended guidelines. Find out more here.

    Watch your salt intake

    Processed and takeaway foods are overloaded with salt. Try cooking from fresh when you can and flavour foods with herbs and spices or a salt substitute. Talk to your health professional for tailored advice.

    Get your health checked

    Being aware of your risk is the most empowering thing you can do for your heart health. Be sure to see your GP regularly and have your blood pressure checked.

    Get your dental health checked

    See your dentist for regular check-ups since bacteria that cause gum disease can enter the blood if unchecked, which has been linked with heart disease.


    Australian Dietary Guidelines:

  • 16 Feb 2021 4:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    People power has been victorious after a massive response to proposed changes aiming to specifically regulate medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments. 


    Under the significant weight of 13,000 public submissions, proposed MBA changes have been withdrawn.

    MBA withdraws 

    Medical Board of Australia (MBA), which oversees all doctors' regulation, proposed clearer rules around complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments calling for tighter regulations in 2019. "Additional safeguards to protect patients," were called for by the MBA who stated that "while some treatments may be beneficial, others may be unnecessary or expose patients to serious side effects." 


    But health professionals and the public disagreed strongly. Consumers were encouraged to respond to the MBA, and under the significant weight of 13,000 submissions over the six-month consultation period, the proposed changes have been withdrawn. 


    Both health professionals and the public were alarmed at the proposed guidelines. Health professionals feared that they would be banned from prescribing vitamins, nutritional supplements, and other therapies and that complementary medicines would be amalgamated with unconventional and emerging treatments, which are not the basis of the vast majority of integrative doctors' practise. The public reacted strongly to the potential of having their autonomy of choice in healthcare removed.  


    Australians trust complementary medicines 

    Carl Gibson is CEO of Complementary Medicines Australia, the peak body representing Australia's world-class complementary medicines industry. He said: "Over 70 per cent of Australians favour a more holistic approach to health and wellbeing – they trust and use complementary medicines in both prevention and treatment strategies to safeguard wellbeing." 


    Food, exercise, and other lifestyle factors are the mainstay of good health but so are micro- and macronutrients, attention to gut health, the microbiome and more: these contribute to the majority of Australians' chosen holistic wellness approaches. 


    "I am delighted that common sense wins out in this decision to withdraw these flawed proposals, and that people power has made an enormous difference,” said Gibson.  


    High-risk practice is not confined to one area of medicine 

    Medical Board Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin, said the consultation was robust and the submissions shed light on both the issues and the possible solutions. 


    "It is clear from the consultation that there is no simple equation linking areas of practice with risk to patients, and that high-risk practice is not confined to one area of medicine," Dr Tonkin said. 


    The proposed solution did not match the problem

    "In effect, the solution we had proposed did not match the problem we were trying to solve and the labels we used – complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments – were not helpful in defining the level of risk posed to patients," ended Dr Tonkin. 


    For more information,

    Complementary Medicines Australia, Ravinder Lilly, 0418928756,email:  

    Australasian Integrative Medicine Association, Cressida Hall,  0414 607 079, email:


    Medical Board of Australia - Board responds to consultation on complementary medicine 

  • 10 Feb 2021 3:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Cutting down or cutting out alcohol can bring significant health benefits. Here are just a three.


    It may feel like alcohol lifts your mood, but that's only short-term. Alcohol is a depressant that can aggravate low mood. Research shows that heavy drinking interferes with the neurotransmitters, including mood-boosting serotonin levels. Five or more drinks in one night can affect cognitive function for up to three days.

    And, because too much alcohol affects your energy levels, it may be that you're less likely to exercise, which can boost mood and may mean that situations feel worse than they are.

    After drinking too much alcohol, you may find it challenging to piece together what happened the night before. But the effects of alcohol on memory go much more profound. Studies show that alcohol inhibits the hippocampus's functioning – the part of the brain responsible for creating and saving memories. Frustrating!

    Giving up for a few weeks may mean that you will have more clarity and deal with issues more positively.


    One of the fastest and most easily identifiable post-heavy drinking symptoms is dehydration – headache and dry-as-a-desert mouth plus dry skin and cracked lips. Alcohol is a diuretic; it affects the kidneys and makes you lose more fluid as urine than you take in. Alcohol also inhibits the production of the hormone vasopressin, which encourages your body to re-absorb water instead of sending it straight to the bladder. Alcohol's dehydrating effects can trigger patches of dry skin.

    The sugar in alcoholic drinks can also affect your skin – it can damage collagen, causing premature skin ageing. Plus, depletion of vitamins slows cell renewal dulling and greying the skin.

    Alcohol dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the skin, causing a flushed, red and blotchy complexion. As fluid leaks from your blood vessel, the result can be puffy, discoloured skin. 

    Stop drinking alcohol and your fluid levels should return to normal, and the result will be plumper skin, fewer under-eye bags.


    Drinking too much alcohol may mean that your body will not absorb as many vital nutrients. Alcohol damages the cells that line the stomach and intestines, cells involved in transporting nutrients into the bloodstream, including thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B12, folic acid, and zinc. A severe lack of B vitamins can trigger anaemia and neurological problems.

    When alcohol compromises healthy liver function, it can interfere with the way that vitamin D is converted into its active forms. So, heavy drinkers have low blood levels of activated vitamin D which has many vital roles.

    Because alcohol does not provide vitamins and minerals, heavy drinking depletes the body's store of vitamins and minerals to process it such as B vitamins, iron, or calcium, leading to many other complications.

    Are you drinking too much alcohol?

    The first step to getting help for addiction is recognising the problem. Talk to your GP to talk about a referral to a psychologist or other specialist service.

    For more information:


Six herbs and nutrients that support immunity

Herbs and nutrition have been harnessed for their health benefits by people around the world since time began. With the Australian winter nearly upon us, and given the current pandemic, here are some herbs and nutrients that have been widely used to support the immune system, reduce risk of infection and minimise symptoms should an infection occur.

A healthy, varied diet, enough sleep, managing stress, adequate physical activity and not smoking support immunity.


The basics

The cornerstone to good health and to supporting your immune system is enjoying a healthy, varied diet, getting enough sleep, managing stress, getting enough physical activity and not smoking. In addition, several herbs and supplements may also be used to support immunity. Check with your healthcare practitioner before taking supplements and if any symptoms persist.

Because COVID-19 is a novel virus, there are no proven treatments or preventative therapies including supplements, medicines or foods that are known to protect us. Until the virus is better understood, limiting community exposure through social distancing or isolation where appropriate, and practicing good hygiene are vital to limit the spread.

Your immune system

Like other body systems, your immune system is complex. Many cells and tissues make up your defence system from your skin to your gut and even eyelashes and white blood cells. Every area of the body is supported – so you could consider your body as your castle and your immune system as the soldiers that patrol and defend every part of your body. 

Keeping your immune system in balance is important at every age and every stage of life. And, traditionally, a number of herbs and nutrients have been used to support the immune system – feeding and supporting your internal soldiers.

1.        Astragalus

Native to China, Korea, Mongolia and Russia, the herb Astragalus has been used since the second century AD to support the immune system, and recent study has shown it supports immunity at the cellular level. This herb is an adaptogen which means that it helps to support the body's reaction to stress. Astragalus root extract is traditionally used to promote a healthy immune system, increase resistance to infection and relieve fatigue.

2.        Andrographis

Used widely in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties, Andrographis contains andrographolide, a terpenoid compound shown to have antiviral effects, including against those that cause respiratory infections. When taken at the first sign of cold symptoms, Andrographis may help to prevent a cold from developing with full force. Andrographis may help to ease the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. It might also prevent influenza viruses from binding to cells in the body, although more research is needed to understand its effectiveness in treating the flu. It can be used to relieve symptoms of treat mild fever, the common cold and sore throat.

This herb is not recommended for use in pregnancy and breast feeding.  There is a small possibility of developing taste disturbances when using Andrographis products so follow the label instructions. 

3.        Echinacea

Echinacea is a daisy-like plant and has been used by Native Americans for centuries.  There are 2 main species used - Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia. Various parts of these different Echinacea species are active in different ways; which is why they are frequently used together.

Echinacea supports a healthy immune response when taken at the onset of symptoms. Studies have suggested that certain species improve immune health and may have antiviral effects against several respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus and rhinoviruses. The antiviral action may be due to the presence of certain polysaccharides that increase the production of infection-fighting white blood cells.

When taken at the first sign of symptoms, Echinacea can relieve symptoms of colds and mild upper respiratory infections and may reduce the duration of cold-related symptoms such as fatigue, body aches and headache.


4. Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, is unusual because the major source is sunshine rather than food sources (it is made when the sunlight interacts with a cholesterol-like substance in your skin). Certain groups, particularly those with restricted access to sunlight may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency, which can be medically diagnosed with a simple blood test. Vitamin D is essential to support the health and functioning of your immune system. 

This vitamin works by enhancing the pathogen (disease) fighting effects of white blood cells that are part of your immune defence and decreases inflammation, helping to support the immune response.

Being deficient in vitamin D may be associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections.

Food sources of vitamin D include some mushrooms, oily fish, fortified foods and egg yolks.

5. Zinc 

Zinc deficiency affects around 2 billion people worldwide and is very common in older adults. About 30% of older adults may be deficient in zinc. Low levels can increase the risk of infection because this mineral helps support healthy immune system function.

It's important not to overdo it though – too much zinc can interfere with copper absorption. Find zinc in whole grains, oysters, baked beans, chickpeas, and nuts.

6. Vitamin C 

The best know nutrient when it comes to your immune system is perhaps Vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for immune health and may reduce the severity and duration of colds. It encourages the production of white blood cells (lymphocytes and phagocytes), which help protect against infection. It also helps these white blood cells function more effectively while protecting them from damage by potentially harmful molecules, such as free radicals. Free radical damage can negatively affect immune health and is linked to numerous diseases.

Because it is water-soluble, you can't store large amounts so it's important to consume some every day. Good food sources include vegetables and fruits; however if you cook veggies, cook them until just tender in a small amount of water as vitamin C is destroyed by heat and can leach out into the cooking water.

Last word

Remember that although supplements can make a difference to your immune health, they can't replace a healthy lifestyle. If you are unwell, stay at home and following Department guidelines about COVID-19 – see


Soluble Fibre, Insoluble Fibre, Functions And Where to Find It

June 2020

June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month which claims the lives of 103 Australians every week (5,375 people a year) - but it's one of the most treatable types of cancer if found early[i]. As well as regular testing, diet is an important factor where it comes to prevention.

Many studies have shown a diet high in fibre can help reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer. This features focuses on fibre – which four out of five Australians don’t consume enough of – and the many benefits of fibre for all-round good health.

Dietary fibre refers to the parts of plant foods that aren’t digested. Although you can’t absorb it – it never leaves your gastrointestinal tract – fibre is vital for good health. Experts recommend around 30g of fibre recommended daily for adults.

Here are six reasons your body needs fibre and easy ways to add more fibre into your diet.

1.      It gives your large intestine a workout

Insoluble fibre (the outer shells of seeds, grains, fruits, and vegetables) can be stringy or coarse. The large intestine is a long muscular tube and, like all muscles, it needs exercise. Insoluble fibre draws water to it and softens the stool making waste more comfortable to pass. Keeping things moving helps to prevent conditions such as constipation, haemorrhoids and diverticular disease.


2.      It feeds your probiotic bacteria

Resistant starch, although not traditionally thought of as fibre, acts in a similar way. It resists digestion in the small intestine (where most food is digested) and when it enters the large intestine, provides food for gut bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria play a key role in controlling inflammation; too much chronic (long-term) inflammation may predispose people to type 2 diabetes.


Find resistant starch in legumes (peas, beans and lentils), seeds, grains, green bananas and certain cooked-and-cooled starchy foods including potatoes and rice.


3.      It helps you feel fuller for longer

Soluble fibre is usually soft and moist and is found in fruit (but not the skins), vegetables and pulses, oats and ground flax seeds. This type of fibre mixes with water in the gut forming a gel-like substance, helping to slow down digestion which, in turn, helps you feel fuller for longer. It also feeds your beneficial gut bacteria. Plus, the physical bulk helps you feel fuller so you may be less likely to consume excess calories.  


4.      It reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes

Research suggests that if every Australian adult added just 4–5g of fibre to their diet each day, it could help prevent 126,000 cases of type 2 diabetes and 64,000 cases of heart disease saving our economy $3.3 billion[ii].

Eating a diet that is rich in fibre can help to flatten the rise in blood glucose (sugar) after eating. And, because it can help to delay the absorption of glucose from the gut and into the bloodstream, your body does not have to release as much insulin to return blood glucose levels to normal.


Again, fibre provides food for your probiotic bacteria, and good gut bacteria can play a part in weight regulation since obesity is a significant risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.


Soluble fibre is especially important if you have insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Find it in psyllium husk, legumes, oats and ground flax seeds. Ripe fruit and vegetables naturally contain more soluble fibre.


5.      It protects your heart

A high-fibre diet may help protect your heart by reducing cholesterol levels in the blood – the gel-like substance may reduce glucose and cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream. Again, it can also help to control weight. High cholesterol levels, high blood glucose levels and being overweight are all risk factors for heart disease.


Fibre also increases the production of short-chain fatty acids by probiotic bacteria which have also been shown to help to reduce inflammation and cholesterol production.


6.      It’s linked with gut health

Higher intakes of fibre are associated with lower rates of bowel cancer. Probiotic bacteria the short-chain fatty acids produced help to keep the lining of the intestine healthy. They also help the body absorb minerals, enhance fat and glucose metabolism in the liver, and have anti-diarrhoeal and anti-inflammatory properties. Butyrate, one of the short-chain fatty acids that is produced by the fermentation of fibre in the large intestine, may reduce the risk of tumour growth.


What about supplements?

Fibre supplements may help people to enjoy the many health benefits of fibre, relieve constipation and maintain regularity. Plus, by choosing a diet that is low in saturated fat and by adding soluble fibre, such as psyllium husk, may help to lower blood cholesterol levels; this may help to reduce the of heart disease. It is important to obtain the advice of a healthcare practitioner especially if you have certain health conditions.


Be cautious

In some medical conditions, it may be important to restrict insoluble fibre. These include acute or subacute diverticulitis, acute phases of certain inflammatory bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, and after some types of intestinal surgery.


Some types of fibre can exacerbate underlying irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you have IBS and you’re following a low-FODMAP diet, you may find some high-fibre foods make your symptoms worse. Talk to your healthcare practitioner for individual advice.


Go slow and drink plenty of fluids

If you’d like to consume more fibre, go slowly over a few weeks. Too much too soon can trigger discomfort and leave you feeling bloated and constipated. And make sure you drink plenty of fluids as fibre draws water into the bowel and needs fluid to work properly.


How to do it

Boost your fibre intake by choosing wholegrain foods most of the time, add legumes (beans, chickpeas and lentils) to salads, soups and stews at least two-to-three times a week, and try to choose high fibre cereals instead of fibre-stripped refined foods.


Aim for around 30g of fibre a day. Here are some good food sources of fibre.


Cereals and breads

Wholegrain barley wrap 1 wrap = 10g

Wholemeal pasta (cooked) 1 cup = 10g  

Soy-linseed bread 2 slices = 6g

Rolled oats 1/4 cup = 4g

Weet-Bix 2 biscuits = 3.5g                          

Brown rice (cooked) 1 cup = 3g   

Quinoa (cooked) 1/2 cup = 2.5g


Beans and pulses            

Baked beans 130g can = 6g

Four-bean mix 125g can = 6g

Chickpeas (cooked) 1/2 cup = 5g

Lentils (cooked) 1/2 cup = 3.5g

Hummus 2 tbs = 2.5g     


Veggies and fruits

Vegetables (cooked) 1 cup = 8g  

Carrot/celery sticks 1 cup = 4g

Banana 1 medium = 3g

Apple 1 medium = 3g     

Sweet potato 1/2 small = 3g

Avocado 1/4 medium = 2g

Potatoes 2 small = 1.5g

Dried fruit 2 tbs = 1.5g


Nuts and seeds

Chia seeds 1 tbs = 5.5g

Plain popcorn 2 cup = 4g              

Almonds 20 nuts = 3g

Peanut butter 1 tbs = 3g               

Seed mix 2tbs = 2.5g










Gerald Quigley talks pharmacy and immune support

Community pharmacist, master herbalist, media health commentator and author, Gerald Quigley, has been passionate about integrative medicine since his early career, which spans nearly 50 years.

Gerald is passionate about empowering people to take control of their own health via greater understanding.

Right from their beginning in their shopping strip pharmacy, Gerald and his now-retired pharmacist wife, Philippa, noticed that the same people with the same health issues returned to the pharmacy over and over again. The couple made a conscious decision to become better involved with their customers and their chronic diseases, determined to help people understand their illness better and, most of all, to ensure that their illness did not define them.

“Philippa became the dispensary manager, and my role was to spend as little dispensing time as possible. I focused on mixing with customers and those whose health we felt we could make a difference to,” says Gerald.  

The couple’s aim was to empower people to take control of their own health via greater understanding.

“This is important because, of course, pharmacists are health professionals. But if you ask anyone the name of their GP or their dentist, they will know. But what about their pharmacist, the person in charge of their health,” asks Gerald?

So, the team made a point of getting to know customers by their name and be a part of their wellness. Every staff member carried a business card, and all sought feedback on nutritional medicines and how patients were progressing.

Empowering with information

The couple often saw the same people with the same conditions, including diabetes, asthma, hypertension, raised cholesterol and psoriasis. Soon, people would line up and talk about their issues, and Gerald and the team would discuss medicines and the role that complementary medicines could play.

“We aimed to help people understand that they didn’t need to be dominated by their condition. Our message might be to consume more omega-3s, exercise regularly and not smoke – we were people-centric, and people responded to that,” Gerald says.

Better understanding, greater responsibilities

Gerald strongly believes that helping people understand more about their own health comes with responsibilities. Any food a person consumes has a physiological action, and every medicine has a pharmacological action.

“Pharmacists have a responsibility to ensure the patient understands their medicines and their health plus that they provide feedback to the pharmacist so that individual and mutual understanding can grow.”

For example, when a patient is prescribed a statin, it is important to explain how Ubiquinol and CoEnzymeQ10 production is affected. And, for people taking Metformin, explaining how vitamin B12 levels can be affected. I feel that it is professionally reprehensible not to do this, and it is a fundamental nutritional requirement.”

Supporting immunity

Gerald notes that immune support is as important as ever given the current pandemic. “Many factors contribute to immune support. And there is evidence-based research to back the use of certain nutrients. Given that so many people consume takeaway foods so often, and 94% of people don’t consume enough vegetables and fruits, clearly, there is a need for better nutrition. I recently read about the role of music in immune function – anything you can do to support healthy immune function is worthwhile,” he says.

Speaking about one of the most widely used analgesics, paracetamol, Gerald notes that according to the Australian Medicines Handbook, the mode of action is not known. “Plus a study published two years ago found that paracetamol was no better than placebo for arthritic pain,” Gerald says.

Reinventing the business of pharmacy

Now amid the current coronavirus pandemic, it may be the perfect time to reinvent the business of pharmacy suggests Gerald. “Listen to the information people can share and take the opportunities to upskill everybody who works in a pharmacy.” From a complementary medicines perspective, Gerald believes that now it is more important than ever.

“The best advice I could give pharmacy staff is to research and be confident about a topic – be it pharmaceutical or herbal. You don’t have to be an expert on everything. Choose an area and specialise in it. Currently, perhaps consider immune-supporting herbs or vitamins, to offset insomnia or anxiety? For example, understanding the role of vitamin D3, Echinacea and Astragalus to name just a few and how their antiviral actions apply.”

Pharmacists’ professionalism needs to develop faster than their commercialism,” he adds, “pharmacy graduates need to shift their thinking from illness to wellness. Teaching needs a fundamental overhaul because it can make a real and positive difference to people,” he says.

Herbal and complementary medicine training 

If asked to choose between a pharmaceutical topic or herbal topic, Gerald says he would probably choose to learn about a herbal topic or one with a base in complementary medicines.

“A lot of pharmaceutical education is company-sponsored while complementary medicine presentations tend to be headed by practitioners who can also supply a patient history. And this is practical knowledge that can be used in practical situations,” he says.

Petty controversies

“CMA does great work with the TGA and responds to the petty controversies touted by FSM, e.g. focussing on imported supplements with their sometimes outrageous claims. They should be thinking more about the many ways we could reduce the risk to patients, from overseas products. Australia’s complementary medicines industry is more responsible now than ever and needs pharmacies and medicines to support them.”

The sniping in news media about complementary medicine disturbs Gerald. “There is little publicity about the dangers of prescription medicines – take Lyrica, for example. Lyrica is now the most prescribed pain medication on PBS, but there are calls for nationwide monitoring after reports that it may cause depression and anxiety. Other side effects can include coma, but you won’t read about them in tabloids. Yet if a milk thistle supplement imported from overseas causes a side effect in one person in the outback, that would make front-page news,” Gerald says.

Ethical, not monetary 

Gerald underlines the needs for a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare for patients. Developing strong relationships with dietitians and nutritionists, naturopaths and more will forge stronger professional relationships.  The basis should be ethical, not monetary.

Finding a trusted practitioner who puts your welfare before his requires trial and error stresses Gerald. “Like finding a good GP or plumber, the professional needs to understand and respect the individual and request and respond to feedback – and that includes the pharmacist. What an opportunity for pharmacists to be involved! If patients don’t have the confidence to ask their pharmacist, then it’s a sad indictment on our profession.”

We should all aspire to unite our industry to become more ethical urges Gerald. “And pharmacists and their teams understand that we can make a difference and help to make the world a healthier place,” ends Gerald.  

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