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  • 01 Mar 2022 3:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Australian complementary medicines industry's most prestigious Award, the Lady Cilento Award, honours an individual's lifetime achievement and outstanding contribution to our sector and community. This important accolade was awarded to the incredibly deserving Dr Lesley Braun; Researcher, Academic and Author. Lesley has tirelessly committed herself to educating health professionals about the myriad benefits of nutritional supplements and herbs. She is also passionate about equipping consumers with the accurate, practical and applied knowledge they need to make insightful choices about their health.


    Dr Lesley Braun accepts the CMA Lady Cilento award


    Prompting reflection

    Asked whether she might have had a slight inkling about being awarded this top accolade, Lesley says: "Absolutely not. I've been working in the industry in various ways for over three decades. Still, you get on with it, there's always more to be done, so I've never really reflected on the body of work done so far. Being awarded this prize was a surprise and forced me to reflect – which was nice too!"

     

    Lesley's health challenges as a teenager inspired her interest in natural medicine. "I had severe asthma, and then my father studied to become a naturopath whilst having a successful pharmacy business. The stories he told after seeing patients in the clinic were inspirational," Lesley remembers.

     

    A three-year gestation 

    It might be difficult to name just two major career highlights with such a long, varied career. "I think that the first career highlight for me was when the first book on Herbs and Natural Supplements launched. Publishing this book felt like birthing another baby, and it was a very proud and happy moment." Yet it took this particular baby nearly three years to incubate!

     

    Lesley started writing the book when her children were small, often finding herself balancing notes in one hand and baby on the other.

     

    Another major highlight for Lesley was participation in multiple government committees which she is happy to say provided a vital opportunity to shape the future and opportunities for our industry.

     

    Working with government

    "The last government committee that I was involved with was being a part of the BKL group. it was great to work with an amazing team and share the importance of the VDS industry in helping people improve their health across Australasia."

     

    Detractors – you’re out of touch!

    Of course, there are detractors despite the incredible advances made via evidence-based research and strict regulations ensuring the highest quality complementary medicines in the world. What would Lesley say to these small but energetic critics?


    "I'd say you're out of touch," laughs Lesley. "New clinical evidence is being published in peer-reviewed literature regularly. We also publish some of the news in our Blackmores Institute newsletter because there is a lack of awareness. Also, I'd recommend that this group takes a reality check. After all, 90% of Aussies don't meet the minimum fruit and vegetable intake standards. Our industry is committed to improving this. But it is obvious that supplements also play an important role."

     

    Encouraging and celebrating women

    "I am truly honoured to have received this award. It means a lot coming from peers in the industry and CMA. Whilst this accolade reflects a lifetime achievement; there's certainly more I'd like to achieve. I'm conscious that I am one of the few women awarded the Lady Cilento accolade. I hope this prompts us all to recognise more women that are doing fabulous things in the industry," ends Lesley.

    Big congratulations, Lesley – we can't wait for your upcoming and undoubtedly extraordinary achievements!


  • 14 Feb 2022 4:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Complementary Medicines Australia has called on the Federal Government to recognise the role of complementary medicines in preventive health with the implementation of four key measures in its 2022-23 Budget Submission.

     

    There is robust evidence in a number of areas that complementary medicines are a cost-effective option to improve health outcomes.


    Supporting the use of complementary medicines and natural therapies for cost-effectively contributing to good health and easing the burden on the health system, CMA recommends that Government expedite restoring private health rebates for natural therapies, while allowing autonomy for private health funds to once again offer these services to Australians.


    Effective and cost-effective

    Chronic health conditions are the leading cause of poor health and mortality in Australia and significantly impact other parts of people’s lives. Individuals use complementary medicines ancillary to conventional medicine to help manage chronic disease, prevent the exacerbation of illness, and to optimise nutrition and wellbeing. There is robust evidence in a number of areas that complementary medicines are a cost-effective option to improve health outcomes.

     

    Carl Gibson, Complementary Medicine Australia’s Chief Executive commentating on a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on chronic conditions, said; “There is ample evidence supporting the use of complementary medicines in achieving greater health and wellbeing at reduced public cost; facilitating disease prevention and addressing the burden of chronic disease. For example, the National Heart Foundation supports fish, fish oils and polyunsaturated acids and their role in cardiovascular health. Other interventions have shown strong evidence of safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness.”

     

    The most recent AIHW report, ‘Life and work experience Australians with chronic conditions’, looked at people aged 15-64 before 2020 and took an in-depth look at factors associated with poor health among mature working-age Australians (aged 45-64) living with chronic conditions. According to AIHW about 47% of Australians are estimated to have at least one chronic health condition, such as arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and mental and behavioural conditions.

     

    A thoughtful and rigorous addition

    Carl Gibson said, “Preventive health is an essential move towards improving the cost-effectiveness of the health care system, by enhancing Australians’ health and quality of life, and reducing preventable chronic diseases. In the case of complementary medicines, a thoughtful and rigorous addition to the preventive health strategy, would further demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and health benefits of complementary medicines contributing to improved public health.”

     

    To further support preventive health, greater investment into complementary medicines research and translation of evidence into practice is required. Australia holds a unique opportunity to build capacity in a world-leading complementary medicine research sector and to contribute to informed healthcare choices around the globe.

     

    Targeted additional support

    Beyond the general need for increased funding support for public health research in Australia, CMA recommends that particular areas of research priority include targeted additional support for complementary medicine research groups.

     

    A healthier Australia can be achieved with consumers, clinicians and government gaining clarity of the clinical benefits of many complementary medicine interventions, their comparative cost effectiveness and the quality controls associated with their development and use for the health benefits of Australians.

     

    CMA thanks the Government for the opportunity to provide a submission for the 2022-23 Commonwealth Budget consultation process.

     

    To view CMA’s 2022-23 Federal Budget Submission, please visit: https://www.cmaustralia.org.au/resources/Documents/CMA%20Pre-Budget%20Submission%202022-23.pdf 


  • 07 Feb 2022 2:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Judges Choice Award highlights an outstanding nomination that showcases the very best in our industry, but the criteria of which does not fit the remit of other awards. The winners of this year's Judges Choice Award, SFI Health, the Home of Flordis, were congratulated for their innovative Menopause Hub. Featuring practical advice and insights from real women, the hub provides easy-to-navigate holistic and useable material focusing on the important yet often overlooked subject of menopause.


    The team celebrates winning the Judge's Choice award at the CMA conference


    "Menopause is a natural stage of life," says Jocelyn Carswell, Head of Marketing ANZ, "yet the topic is still so taboo. Our consumer research conducted in August 2021 found that a staggering four out of five Australians don't know what menopause is. Plus, the majority of people don't understand how it can impact a woman's life nor how it can affect wellbeing," she says.


    Brand pillars

    With the firm belief that knowledge is power, Jocelyn and the team focused on one of the company’s core brand pillars which is to help people make informed choices about their health. The team planned content that could improve and empower the lives of women (and their partners). The result was practical, educational, credible information about managing this stage of life in the most optimum way for every individual. Enter the Menopause Hub.


    Women (and men) can access this online information destination to for sound, science-based information and share women's first-hand experiences of peri-menopause, menopause and beyond. The wide variety of content includes articles, videos, an eBook and an interactive discussion guide checklist. The scope is broad and ranges from explaining body changes, how these can affect mood and stress and how dietary and lifestyle choices may help during the transition.


    Raw, honest and open

    "I particularly love the first-hand experience videos; they are raw and honest and provide hope and reassurance to women. This may be especially important for women who may be going through a tough time in their menopause journey," says Jocelyn.


    Menopause affects the whole body, so it makes sense to take a holistic approach to customer care.


    "At SFI Health, we believe we have the responsibility to bring natural health solutions to people's healthcare needs. Our holistic healthcare approach involves using multiple, proven, evidence-based natural health solutions that treat the whole person. The Menopause Hub includes health professional articles on nutrition, the important role of exercise and how to seek help from a trusted health professional confidently," Jocelyn explains.


    The Menopause Discussion Guide

    "My team and I are especially proud of The Menopause Discussion Guide," says Jocelyn. "This digital tool was specifically developed for the Menopause Hub with team working hard alongside a health professional to create the content and platform. In essence, the Discussion Guide is a phased checklist that prompts the user to note the body and mind symptoms they may be experiencing. By highlighting the most troublesome symptoms, the user can discuss concerns with a trusted health professional. This tool is beneficial because the user may not be aware of some of the lesser-known symptoms of menopause (it's not just about hot flushes!). It is a great prompt for useful conversations with the health professional," Jocelyn explains.


    With 10,000 unique views since its launch in September 2021, users access all content on the Menopause Hub but understanding hot flushes and the E-book has been particularly popular.


    Smashing the stigma

    "Menopause gets such a bad rap, and there is still so much stigma surrounding what is a very normal stage of life," says Jocelyn. "There are many ways to manage menopausal symptoms which are different for every woman. And it can be a time of empowerment – an exciting new chapter for many women, too.


    I encourage readers to embrace this stage of life, to understand it and talk openly about menopause to not feel alone but empowered. After all, the more we talk about it, the more we normalise this natural life process, and the more the stigma will fade," ends Jocelyn.


  • 03 Feb 2022 4:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Australian multivitamins don’t disappoint Mr Mannix – and that tells us something important about science. https://bit.ly/3HrdxtQ

    #compmedsaus #madeinaustralia

    Essentially, this article by Liam Mannix suggests that multivitamins cannot replace a healthy diet – a foundational concept and an ideology that the complementary medicines industry agrees with and states consistently. However, as the Australian data shows, most people do not consume the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for many macro- and micronutrients.

    Mannix, in telling us “something important about science”, draws attention to an important graph called the Evidence Pyramid, the same pyramid provided in the Government guidelines applicable to  the evidence required  to  support  indications  for  listed  complementary  medicines in Australia.

    This article states that multivitamins don't work but provides no evidence to support the claim. It focuses on the importance of good research. Still, it says that multivitamins do not protect brain or heart health. However, multivitamin supplements are not formulated to target brain or heart health indications specifically – rather to primarily rectify nutritional deficiencies.

    Our industry advises that complementary medicines can play an important role in people's daily health and wellbeing when balanced with  regular exercise, a mixed diet, rest and a healthy lifestyle. It isalso recommend that people consult a health professional to diagnose and treat deficiency.

    The term multivitamin covers an extensive range of products. Some contain omega-3 and other ingredients that have been proven to assist heart and brain health. Consumers are encouraged to read medicine labels to ensure that the formulation is suitable for them.


    Article details

    "There is now a lot of high-quality evidence that multivitamins do not work for people who do not have a vitamin deficiency (and if you think you have a deficiency, you should see a GP and get tested)."

    Our health industry focuses on enhancing health and wellness – we encourage the consumption of a healthy diet.  However, based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017–18 National Health Survey (NHS), one in two people aged 18 and over (49%) did not eat the recommended two serves of fruit, while over nine in 10 (92%) did not eat the recommended five to six serves of vegetables (ABS 2018).

    "The trials that have been done of vitamins have not shown benefit in people who are not deficient. We're just seeing it time and time again," said Professor Rachel Neale of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

    Numerous studies have shown that just under one in four Australian adults (23%) are deficient in Vitamin D.

    Four out of five Australians are not getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diet.

    Seventy-three per cent of females and 51 per cent of males consume less calcium than recommended.

    Approximately 20% of the population meet the recommendations of omega-3s for optimal health. (Australians are not Meeting the Recommended Intakes for Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Results of an Analysis from the 2011–2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (nih.gov)).

    Most Australians don't eat enough fibre.

    And there are many more studies that concur.

    "In a study of 5947 male doctors over 12 years, a multivitamin did not improve brain health or function."

    Multivitamin supplements are carefully formulated to assist with vitamin deficiencies primarily – they are not indicated or even recommended to improve brain health or function. Indications for use are presented on the label.

    Listed complementary medicines may only use pre-approved ingredients with suitable safety and quality characteristics and require a high quality efficacy package to be submitted for pre-market assessment (new listing pathway); or post market review by the regulator.

    "In a four-year study of 1708 patients who had suffered a recent heart attack, multivitamins did not cut the risk of further cardiovascular events."

    Multivitamin supplements are formulated to correct nutritional deficiencies primarily ; they are not a multifunctional panacea for health and have never claimed to be.

    "There was no evidence that multivitamin or mineral supplements prevented the normal brain decline that comes with ageing."

    Multivitamin supplements are not developed to help prevent age-related decline. Again, they are a source of multiple vitamins to rectify nutritional needs. Australians purchase these products for the intended function.

    "Caring about evidence in science is important because there are many, many things that look like they really should work and just don't."

    This comment is baffling. The author has not supplied the so-called science-based evidence that shows that multivitamin supplements do not work. Multivitamin supplements release nutrients into the body to rectify the nutritional deficiency- that is what they were formulated to do.

    "Supplementing above and beyond your daily vitamin needs does not seem to provide any benefit, says Louis Roller, honorary associate professor in pharmacy practice at Monash University."

    Once again, Australia's complementary medicines industry agrees that supplementing an already replete individual does not benefit and individuals are encouraged to follow medicine label instructions

    "You can work out if you're going to be vitamin deficient: if you eat white bread and red meat and that's it, sure, take a multivitamin. My advice to people: just eat properly."

    Suppose an individual ate only white bread and red meat. In that case, numerous food groups are omitted, and this scenario will need professional guidance. However, clinical nutritional deficiencies can occur for many reasons and in people whose diets are far less restricted. For example, multivitamins and other supplements are essential for:

    Those on a restricted diet – for choice, cultural or religious means including plant-based eating.

    Those with problems absorbing vitamins and minerals – for example, vitamin B12 is challenging to absorb if intrinsic factor is deficient.

    Those with gut problems – i.e., difficulty absorbing nutrients

    Those with poor appetite or poor dentition

    Older people – who may have a poor appetite and changes related to ageing can affect the ability to absorb nutrients.

    The housebound – sun exposure is the primary source of vitamin D production.

    Those taking certain medications – which can affect the absorption of or may increase requirements for nutrients that are difficult to meet via diet alone

    Pre-pregnancy – to protect the unborn child but also to protect the mother's nutritional needs in some cases

    Post-pregnancy – to protect the nutrition of mother and child

    Iron-deficiency anaemia – due to diet or physiological factors.

    Plus, there are many more.

    Following the long-held advice to eat well, exercise, rest, and focus on a healthy lifestyle, "just eat properly" is ideal. Still, it is easier said than done for many people.

    The article repeatedly states that vitamin supplements are not required for people who consume a healthy diet. The fact is that while most of us don't consume the perfect diet, multivitamins and other supplements are vital to treating deficiency due to a myriad of different reasons. The complementary medicines industry provides accurate information regarding supplements for individual Australians to make informed decisions.

    As with any medicine, it is essential to take nutritional supplements according to the instructions on the label or as guided by a health professional. Precise dosage is detailed on the label for general use. If advice is required, consumers should consult a health practitioner.

    The Australian complementary medicines industry is committed to providing high-class supplements in the most highly regulated environment in the world. Indications are clearly presented on the label -we urge consumers to get clarity and practical information from a health professional or contact the Australian complementary medicine company for accurate, individual advice. 


  • 25 Jan 2022 10:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Insurance Made Easy Young Achiever of the Year accolade is a brand-new award that applauds young individuals in our industry. This award recognises the importance of ensuring that we acknowledge and celebrate exceptional people for today and our future.


    Huge congratulations to the inaugural winner, Managing Director of BioConcepts, Dr Michael Osiecki PhD, BE (Chemical), BBiotech (Hons). He received his doctorate for research in biological engineering, specialising in the isolation and expansion of stem cells in bioreactor systems in 2016 from QUT.



    Dr Michael Osiecki wins the inaugural Insurance Made Easy Young Achiever of the Year award.


    Passionate about driving education and awareness around the science of supplements, Michael is also a CMA Board Director and Chairs the Export and Industry Development Committee.


    Dr Michael's scientific prowess and passion for the industry has put him at the forefront of education in nutritional medicine. He draws insights from the latest relevant research in complementary medicine, applying these to the clinic and beyond. His diverse background gives him a unique perspective allowing him an innovative approach.


    "Some of my research experience includes mesenchymal stromal cell differentiation, tissue regeneration, wound healing, hematopoietic stem cell niche, redox signalling and behaviour of antioxidants such as ascorbic acid," says Michael.


    Asked what inspired him to focus on natural therapies, Michael says that the industry has heavily influenced my life.


    "My father, Henry Osiecki, has impacted the nutritional landscape of Australia through founding several businesses, having a clinical practice, and being so passionate about the education of practitioners. So, I have lived and breathed this industry all my life. The philosophy of complementary medicine and other aspects of the business, such as manufacturing, just fitted naturally," says Michael.


    Michael completed a national and international education series on the role of nutritional medicines in managing addictions. "Mental health is a big problem, and practitioners see an increasing number of patients coming to them looking for solutions. There has been a lot of education around many aspects of mental health, and BioConcepts has a leader in educating practitioners on nutrition in the treatment of mental health conditions."


    However, Michael understands that a significant gap in clinicians' understanding of addictions and few options for their treatment remain.


    "I was able to talk to psychiatric facilities about our more traditional market of practitioners around the importance of nutritional medicine in supporting recovery and preventing relapse. I was also able to draw attention to the co-morbid conditions of patients with substance abuse that we have been ignoring and the importance of treating these to prevent disease later on in these patients. Sharing knowledge was a great experience, as was months and years later, hearing how this education had changed their patients' lives. It has given me further confidence in these treatments, not just believing that they work from understanding the clinical literature. Still, the conviction of knowing that these treatments work," Michael says.


    A+B can result in C, D, E or A

    "I was always drawn to complex systems; my formal education has been a journey in understanding this. For example, chemical engineering is defined by thermodynamics and chemical kinetics with pure substances or well-defined systems. In these systems, A+B goes to C. However, in biology and biological engineering, A+B can go to C, D, E or A depending on multiple factors, some of which are still yet to be discovered," says Michael.


    Drugs are designed to work on a specific protein, enzyme or receptor with a few side reactions. A relatively simple response explains Michael. But a vitamin or herb works on hundreds of enzymes, proteins or receptor pathways that are dosage and co factor-dependent.


    "These powerful interventions can be easily misunderstood unless you have been educated in and have an understanding of how these nutrients and herbs work from a biochemical, cellular level to the whole body. I enjoy focusing on natural therapies, as understanding the science behind these treatments embraces the complex nature of biology and also treats people as an individual rather than a population," Michael says.  


    Career highlights 

    Two career highlights stand out for Michael. One demonstrates his business and leadership skills, and the other surrounds his drive for science education.


    Michael says: "Over the last three years, BioConcepts has enjoyed significant growth, and a massive culture change facilitated this, thriving during the COVID period. We deliver exciting new products and provide practitioners with industry-leading education; we provide products and education on the patient conditions they see by really understanding practitioners' needs.


    Even in a time when it might be easy to be conservative due to uncertainty, we decided to push through with our strategic plan, fortified by confidence in our ability to deliver innovative products and educate practitioners around these."


    Michael and his team knew that patients would still need to consult with their practitioners for mental health, gut and other issues and still require solutions. The group recognised how the supply chain would be disrupted in the pandemic and focused on their top-selling and immunity products expecting demand to increase. No more than three products were out of stock long-term throughout the pandemic.


    Flexible working

    The company had introduced flexible work arrangements back in 2019, so the company was ready for staff to work from home.


    "We made the office an environment people wanted to be in when we could go back to work post lockdowns. Giving people the flexibility in how they worked and empowering them to take responsibility and use their creativity to deliver new products, educational materials, and marketing campaigns contributed to the financial growth the business is experiencing," says Michael.  


    Industry progression 

    "I think it's the most exciting time to be in this industry. We are on the precipice of massive change in medical science and public health. Look at the number of publications and clinical trials in complementary medicine, thanks to help from the industry as standard funding bodies don't bother to fund such research.


    The COVID pandemic has meant that the public, scientists and medical doctors are looking at natural medicines as adjuncts for the population. They realise that these can help improve immunity and even improve outcomes for hospitalised patients. I see a significant change of tone in major medical journals on how they talk about vitamin or herbal interventions for this current health crisis. It is vital to understand that complementary medicines are essential adjuncts to treatment, to reducing side effects or simply rectifying critical nutrient deficiencies can be seen in certain diseases," Michael says.


    Michael believes that we are now experiencing a generational change as people in his age group take more senior roles in different parts of the health industry.


    "We have gone from doctors with no interest to learning about complementary medicines claiming that there is "no evidence and it's all snake oil", to many who are now interested in investigating and researching the use of vitamins, nutrients and herbs," he says.


    "Younger people want to use these treatments and be educated on how to use them so they better and more confidently use supplements and lifestyle interventions. Younger people want to work with complementary medicine practitioners as they don't know it all or have the time to fully support the patient to implement lifestyle and supplemental interventions fully.


    The new era is exciting; younger doctors want help in their patients' programs to prevent diseases by collaborating with other modalities. Patients wish to help and support using these interventions. The resulting shift will have a positive effect on public health, and all sides of our industry will benefit from this change," Michael explains.  


    For those considering a career in natural health 

    The complementary medicines industry is profoundly complex but rewarding as it can change people's lives.


    Michael explains: "The complexity lies in product formulation and manufacturing, ingredients must be homogeneously mixed, delivered in the correct dosage and form and components must be stable for the entire shelf life.


    The complexity of understanding the root cause of disease, how nutrients or herbs work together and how different dosages have different and sometimes opposite effects. To be a natural leader in the industry, Michael believes it is essential to understand these intricacies.  


    "Overcoming these complexities brings the ultimate reward; you change someone's life for the better, not just one person but millions of people. Working in the practitioner side of the industry, you see the power of nutritional medicine and how it changes people's lives. Practitioners are the last point of call; patients may bounce from doctor to doctor, not finding a solution to their problem and getting sicker. They see an integrative, complementary medicine practitioner. After a month, they are feeling well and functioning better for the first time. Hearing case studies and stories through my clinical support team every week is enriching," ends Michael.


    Huge congratulations, Michael!


  • 24 Jan 2022 12:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Ultralabels Manufacturer of the Year award celebrates the company that has made the most significant contribution to the manufacture of complementary medicines throughout the past year. Many congratulations to Factors Group; this family-owned Canadian company specialises in researching, developing, and producing high-quality nutritional supplements.

     

    "Sustainability is imperative to our industry's principles," Evan Hayes,  Managing Director of Factors Group ANZ & Senior Advisor to Factors Group Global.


    One of North America's largest manufacturers and distributors of natural supplements, Factors Group has operated for over 65 years. It creates a wide range of tested, trusted and effective vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies, and other supplements.

       

    Partnering with many of Australia's leading brands

    Factors Group Australia is a sustainable, vertically integrated, Certified B Corporation®. We manufacture premium brands such as Bioclinic Naturals®, Whole Earth & Sea®, Webber Naturals® and SlimStyles®. We are also the preferred manufacturing partner for many of Australia's leading brands, providing extensive manufacturing, testing and raw material supply capabilities.


    Evan Hayes, the Managing Director of Factors Group ANZ & Senior Advisor to Factors Group Global, says: "Our company has a genuine and industry-leading commitment to sustainable and traceable raw material sourcing and manufacturing," explains  "We have over 600 acres of certified organic farmland in Canada's Okanagan Valley, and wherever possible,  grow our plant-based ingredients. Any raw material we do not produce ourselves is subject to the highest level of scrutiny to ensure quality and purity. All raw materials undergo extensive independent analytical testing and certification by ISURA® who can identify and quantify over 700 contaminants."


    Factors Group's state-of-the-art facilities include research and development centres, laboratories, processing, manufacturing and packaging plants. These allow production from seed to shelf, ensuring superior transparency throughout the supply chain.

     

    Sustainability in manufacturing

    The judging panel was impressed with the farm to finished product approach – and the company's focus on sustainability in manufacturing.

     

    Evan explains: "Factors Farms™ consists of over 600 acres of organic farmland in Canada's Okanagan Valley. A variety of medicinal crops are grown, giving us access to superior raw materials and allowing us to supply high-quality products while supporting environmental sustainability."

     

    All seeds planted are non-GMO, and crops are fertilised with compost (including leftover plant matter from the manufacturing process) to reduce wastage.

     

    "These methods allow us access to the best quality raw materials that nature has to offer. Crops are harvested at their peak and processed at our manufacturing facility, located less than an hour's drive from the farms, to maximise potency. We also create pollinator habitats, as bees are an essential part of our farm ecosystem," says Evan.

     

    An industry-leading commitment to environmental best practices

    Sustainability is more than just a corporate value at Factors Group Australia – they are proud to be a certified B Corporation® and 100% carbon neutral (Bullfrog certified). This certification proves the company's industry-leading commitment to measurable environmental best practices.

     

    Factors Group is also actively involved in anti-modern slavery practices. The company performs DNA testing and mass spectrometry to protect against plant adulteration. Rare plants are protected within a CITES review. Their partnership with like-minded companies demonstrates their commitment not to invest in companies that negatively impact the environment.

     

    Leading sustainability and innovation

    "Sustainability is imperative to our industry's principles," Evan emphasises. "The complementary medicine industry has been leaders in innovation, healing through natural medicine and educating people about the benefits of homeostasis and harmony. Sustainability is very much an extension of this. Suppose our patients sometimes get sick because of toxins in nature. In that case, treating the condition also means we have to eliminate those toxins from the environment and our supply chain. We are proud to lead in this area. It is something we have always done and something that we encourage others to follow.

     

    Companies may feel that they are too small to make changes. Still, partnering with a company of our scale, we can work together to use our size to support their sustainability strategies," explains Evan.

     

    The NPD partnership

    Factors Group formulates and manufactures 100% of listed medicines for two of Australia's leading grocery chains home brands. They are IP holders and manufacturers for some of the top ten products in Australia for Australia's leading brands.

     

    "We consider our NPD process a partnership. We develop many innovations that we feel are more suitable for other high-quality brands. At Factors, we are fully collaborative with the complementary medicine community. Our goal is to utilise our extensive resources globally to offer the best patient solution for Australia's healthcare needs. The Australian consumer has excellent choices in high-quality brands, which often means we provide our innovative products to other like-minded brands. It allows us to develop highly specialised, unique products that we can design with specific brands in mind based on their DNA and customer demographics.

     

    End-to-end ancillary services

    Given our expertise and desire to collaborate, it makes sense that we offer complete end-to-end ancillary services such as formulation and claims to our customers if needed. Our customers love this - it allows them to focus on the parts of their business they excel at while remaining confident they are getting best-in-class products. We love this approach as these products and brands may differ from our own. So, it allows us to be creative in our product development and to reach a wider audience," ends Evan.

     

    Many congratulations to Factors Group!


  • 20 Jan 2022 9:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Congratulations to Fusion Health who have been awarded CMA’s Highly Commended Award for the Most Outstanding Marketing Campaign.


    Fusion Health's Sarah Culverhouse (centre) accepts the CMA award for their Wintering Well marketing campaign.


    The CMA Judging Panel acknowledged Fusion Health’s fantastic Wintering Well Campaign which focused on bolstering immune health in the colder months. Consumers could find well written, practical ideas on self-care in the Wintering Well Health Hub.

     

    Head of Marketing at Fusion Health, Anita Wolf, says: "The Wintering Well Campaign was designed to highlight traditional holistic medicine's contribution to an individual's health. We wanted to champion community spirit, emotional wellbeing, the importance of nutrition, being active and spending time in nature," says Anita. We feel that all of these are core attributes required to living a balanced and fulfilled life."

     

    The campaign captured some healthy activities typical of an Australian winter with relatable, brand-building content on how to stay well during winter, or 'winter well'. The kind of key brand advocates who would resonate with Fusion Health's target audience were selected. No stick-thin models or influencers with millions of followers on Instagram were featured. The Fusion team set out to use storytelling to reach their audience in a way that made them feel part of the Fusion community.

     

    Practical tips

    Wintering Well encouraged people to take time to slow down, rest and sleep. Practising activities such as journaling and meditation were highlighted. Contemplative activities and choosing gentle forms of exercise such as yoga or walking during winter were featured as was the importance of warming and nourishing foods to help balance yin yang during the cooler months.

     

    "Overall, the focus was the importance of supporting the immune system during winter via nutritious and delicious eating and healthy lifestyle factors,” Anita says.

     

    Feedback

    Part of the uplifting Wintering Well campaign was a competition – consumers who purchased a Fusion product could enter to win $500 to spend at their local health food store. The delighted winners stocked up on their favourite products while supporting their health and their favourite health food stores during a challenging year for bricks and mortar retail.

     

    "We also ran an in-store merchandising competition for our stockists," says Anita. "They appreciated the $1000 cash prize plus $500 donation to a charity of their choice," Anita explains. 

     

    The team's next major campaign will focus on the subjects of immunity and mental health.

     

    Immunity and stress

    "We're excited to be launching a new product soon: 'Immunity and Stress' is a product that features ashwagandha and astragalus, a match made in heaven!" Anita says.

     

    Anita says: “We will be promoting this new product together with a range of brand, educational and lifestyle content to help our customers cultivate and develop emotional and mental wellbeing. We also want to celebrate nature and its ability to replenish the soul in stressful times. We feel relaxed just thinking about it!"

     

    Holistic health journeys

    "Our customers are becoming more active in their health journeys. As a brand, we have always advocated for traditional medicines and a holistic approach to health, and it's exciting to see consumers engaging with these concepts in a way we haven't seen before.”

     

    "Simplicity is key to a successful marketing campaign - there is always so much that could be done, so it's important to focus on key tactics and build upwards from there. We had great fun building this brand content – you can expect to see more of this kind of approach from us in the future, too!" ends Anita.


  • 17 Jan 2022 10:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Honouring the most outstanding complementary healthcare industry retailer, the Vince Russel Retailer of the Year Award celebrates creativity and innovation in a retail setting. This award also celebrates positive contributions to both the community and to our industry. This year, our huge congratulations go to Chemist Warehouse winners of this important award. This extensive chain of pharmacies rose to some of the challenges impacting consumers due to Covid 19.



    Huge congratulations to Jack and the amazing team at Chemist Warehouse


    Recognising that the preference for click and deliver options for their pharmacy products as well as other goods was growing exponentially, the team zapped delivery times from three weeks to three hours for nearly 200,000 orders.


    Jack explains: “Many people were and still are working from home or isolating, and couldn’t go out, so we wanted to provide service to customers.


    “We did this by making an agreement with DoorDash® waiving delivery fees for the first week nationally. Deliveries were fast-tracked for on-demand delivery,” explains Jack.


    The group chose this option because they felt that Australia Post was taking too long. The service was free for a number of weeks and now has a flat rate of $15 which covers the DoorDash fees.


    Clicking on the deliver option, the customer’s inventory is packed in store nearest to their postcode and delivered within three hours if not sooner.


    Jack tested the service for himself – he found that the delivery arrived within one hour but took two weeks via Australia Post.


    A commitment to education

    Jack and the team recognise that people will only benefit from Australian natural medicines if they understand how they may beneficially impact their own health. Thus, the group regularly produces television advertisements and their House of Wellness website and publications detail areas including areas such as weight-loss, health conditions, fitness, recipes nutrition and tips in easy-to-understand formats.


    The What’s New in the Warehouse television and broadcast segments use trusted spokespeople including the well-established and respected pharmacist, Gerald Quigley.


    “We are proud to offer the best range and variety in over 450 stores and over 20,000 staff. But to offer accurate information, our people must have access to educational information,” Jack says. 


    Staff are well trained – they are offered online education in natural health via training programs and classes in every state.


    “Our team is cognisant of the responsibility to give back to community and we are active in supporting areas such as prostate cancer, women’s health and save our sons and more.


    It begins with purchasing

    And the process of stocking shelves with the kind of products people really want starts with the buying process.


    “Our team is very clear about the need to give the customer what they want. So, our buyers come from customer-facing retail backgrounds – after all, if they don’t know retail, they don’t know what the customer really wants.


    “We hire dynamic buyers who understand this and they are empowered. Examining trends at tradeshows, visiting manufacturers and studying overseas trends means that we can introduce goods as soon as possible to maintain our leading edge. Examining trends is important and plagiarism saves a lot of time!” laughs Jack.


    And talking of trends, Jack and the group are currently working with the TGA to understand what can be done to bring CBD oil to their customers as is the case overseas.


    “Successful retail isn’t rocket science – it’s about basic, practical, relatable and understandable processes done well and consistently. And it’s about providing people with what they want,” ends Jack.


    Many congratulations Jack and the team at Chemist Warehouse!


  • 12 Jan 2022 11:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Congratulations to Metagenics for once again taking the CMA Most Outstanding marketing Campaign for the Ethical Nutrients’ Live Life Resilient Campaign.


    Metagenics takes the CMA Most Outstanding marketing Campaign for their Live Life Resilient Campaign. 

    Recognising the complementary medicines industry's best marketing campaign, this award is based on the strength and relevance of the message for the stated target audience. It considers credible imaging of the product or service reflected by the campaign, its duration and the campaign's commercial success.


    Resonating with audiences

    Using real women was imperative to ensure the campaign resonated with the audience, regardless of age, ethnicity or life stage. These real women expressed raw emotions throughout, helping to build a human connection between them and the audience. The campaign addressed several fundamental consumer health needs - muscle, immune, and energy, across five creative variations.


    The Ethical Nutrients Live Life Resilient campaign encourages women to own their health and take action ('I did it my way'), so they can live a life well-lived ('live life resilient'). Centred around the brand's health credentials ('Evidence-based and meticulously crafted for real results'), it provides a fresh twist on the empowering 'My Way' ballad paired with distinctive black and white creative that elevates the brand. Bringing together real women across different life stages, who expressed raw emotion and human connection, Ethical Nutrients is positioned as a partner in their health journey.


    Inclusivity and empowerment

    The feedback from the Live Life Resilient campaign has been resoundingly positive. Pharmacists, pharmacy staff and consumers are impressed with the inclusivity and empowerment that the message brings. One consumer emailed, "As a long-term Ethical Nutrients customer, it makes me smile every time I see it. It's inclusive (especially of age), gritty and fun. Congrats." Another rang to say, "I saw the Ethical Nutrients ad today … it is great; it's so catchy and stands out. It grabbed my attention and was stuck in my head then; I thought it was very well done, and I liked it." The campaign feedback from retailers was also overwhelmingly positive, with several accounts requesting copies of the creative for in-store and online use.


    The Live Life Resilient campaign will be further built upon in 2022. There will be a renewed focus on muscle and immune health, also addressing new key consumer health areas, including sleep.


    "We're incredibly proud to have created a campaign that empowers women to take charge of their health. It celebrates inclusivity and educates people about the importance of complementary medicines in their health journey," ends Sarah Sparks, Brand Manager at Ethical Nutrients.


  • 10 Jan 2022 2:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Celebrating the very best in excellence, the Digital Commerce Award recognises innovation, creativity, enjoyment, and success.



    Anil Mustafa and Claudia Franceschini accept the inaugural CMA Digital Commerce award for My Appointments.


    The inaugural honour was recently presented to Anil Mustafa and Claudia Franceschini from Eclaire & Co for their unique practice management platform, My  Appointments.

    Launched in 2021, after several years in development, My Appointments is built for practitioners by practitioners. The genuinely innovative practice management solution is set to revolutionise practice management, saving practitioners time and money while stimulating practice growth.

    Anil and Claudia discussed concepts for a viable launch around six months, and it took almost two years to build and launch My Appointments.

    Anil says: “Our goal was to reduce the administrative burdens of running a practice so that practitioners could focus on what they do best, treating their clients.”

    The idea for the platform resulted from work that the duo was conducting on the advocacy platform, Your Health Your Choice (YHYC), which aims to safeguard the future of natural therapies. Following the axing of rebates by the government, the pair examined ways to support practitioners and the growth of funds to enable this work to continue.

    Research and development

    Both Anil and Claudia are experienced in building businesses from the ground up. Anil started her Myotherapy practice at age 19 which quickly evolved into a multidisciplinary clinic, including a Pilates studio and a gym. Claudia is an avid user of natural therapies for herself and her children and has a marketing, business development and design background.

    “We combined our experiences and brainstormed ideas that could automate as much as possible for practitioners. We also looked at ways we could connect more clients with their ideal practitioners and build in marketing protocols to help practitioners grow their business,” says Anil.

    “Following further research with practitioners, we proceeded to build the wireframes before passing it on to developers who specialised in building practice management systems,” Anil explains.

    The feedback has been fantastic so far, reports Claudia, who adds: “The biggest compliments focus on how innovative and user-friendly our platform is. Everyone especially loves the clean, visually appealing design.”

    A big surprise

    Winning the new Digital Commerce Award came as a big surprise to the thrilled Anil and Claudia; they didn’t even know they had been nominated! The duo is humbled by the recognition they have received so early on in developing the platform by some of the most influential names in the complementary medicines sector.

    The next steps for Anil and Claudia involve the development of additional features and the continued evolution of the platform to meet the needs of practitioners.

    “It is an incredible pleasure to be involved in a project that has so much support in an industry that we are so very passionate about. We are excited by what the future holds. We are loving watching our vision come to life,” ends Claudia.


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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.


References

https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.008~2011-12~Main%20Features~Calcium~401

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/foods-high-in-magnesium#:~:text=Most%20young%20children%20in%20Australia%20get%20enough%20magnesium%2C,diabetes%2C%20older%20people%20and%20people%20who%20have%20alcoholism

https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4364.0.55.006Chapter2002011-12

https://aem.asm.org/content/82/7/2187.full



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.

Ends

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.


References
[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].

 

Support

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. 


References

[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.


References

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.

References

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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