SFI Health
Navigating the World of Natural Medicines

Navigating the World of Natural Medicines

Up to 24 percent of Australian adults with a chronic health condition regularly use complementary medicines so it's important to make sure you find one that's right for you.

Lifestyle insight
Reading time: 3 minutes

How to choose a reliable natural medicine product

In Australia, the natural health market is largely driven by consumer advertisements and endorsements, making it difficult to know if a product is high quality, trustworthy, or right for you.

Looking beyond labels, here are some tips to help you choose a reliable natural medicine.

Understand your health concern

It’s very important to speak to a healthcare professional if you’re considering taking a natural medicine. Qualified healthcare professionals can help you understand your health concern and identify whether a product may be right for you.

Speak to someone who understands your personal medical history, and discuss your signs, symptoms, any other medications you may be taking, any allergies you have and any other relevant issues.

Search for scientific evidence

Not all complementary medicines are created equal, so if you are interested in using natural medicines, SFI Health believes it is important that you choose one that is backed by clinical evidence.

Natural medicines that have been tested in clinical trials have demonstrated the highest level of evidence to support their claims. This means you can be more confident in their ability to produce reliable health outcomes

When you’re reviewing the evidence to support a plant-based natural medicine, you should look for clinical research that is specific to the product – and not just the generic plant name.

For example, if you find a study suggesting Black cohosh is effective at relieving the symptoms of menopause, this finding shouldn’t necessarily be applied to all Black cohosh products –it should be most relevant to the specific product tested in the study.

This is because there are many factors that can contribute to a natural medicine’s overall efficacy – including where the plant is grown, the specific extraction process, the solvents used and the manufacturing process, among others.

While these differences may sound small, they may actually have a significant impact on the active ingredient and properties of the finished product.

Look for specific standardised extracts

There are many plant-based natural products to choose from and many use ingredients sourced from the same plant or herb, but there can be great variation in natural medicines. 

A natural medicine that contains a specific standardised extract can help reduce this variability because the extraction process can significantly impact product quality and reliability of potency.

If a product isn’t standardised, you can’t be as sure that it will produce consistent results. Also, each product’s standardisation process is unique – meaning two different products that contain the same generic plant species won’t necessarily contain the same consistent profile of compounds.

For example, there are many cognitive health products on the market labelled as containing brahmi, bacopa, or Bacopa monnieri  and it can be difficult to understand how these products may differ.  Only KeenMind® contains the exclusive extract of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08), the specific medicine used in clinical trials and scientific studies.

When choosing a natural medicine that uses a specific standardised extract, you can be more confident that the product can produce the same reliable health outcomes.

Choose a trustworthy brand

In healthcare, quality and trust are essential. Choose products belonging to brands that have a long history in the natural health industry and are renowned for producing quality, scientifically-validated products.

Trustworthy brands should have passed rigorous quality controls, and they should continually conduct research on their products. You can also speak to your healthcare professional about their recommendations.

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