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Why I won't prescribe illegal products

1 May 2015 4:41 PM - and why you should think carefully about buying them online...

Here in my naturopathic clinic, I am frequently asked for advice around what nutritional or herbal supplements to take. And often I am asked about products or ingredients that are not available in Australia.

The internet is a wonderful thing but sometimes looking at overseas blogs, websites and online stores can lead you to believe that a certain nutrient or herb will be the answer to your health prayers, only to find out that it’s not available here in Australia. It can be very frustrating. I read those blogs and I attend many conferences and seminars where the overseas speakers are talking about the wonderful results they have achieved with a particular form of nutrient. If only we could get it here. The temptation is to import it from one of those online suppliers.

Why I won’t recommend non-TGA approved products

  • It would be unethical of me as a naturopath (and against the ethical code of my professional association) to prescribe something that is not approved by the TGA.

  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration is the government body responsible for approving all medicines and medical devices sold in Australia with a view to protecting the health of the consumer and safeguarding us from possibly dangerous products.

  • Now, while they can be frustratingly slow in their approval processes at times, their intentions are sound and they err on the side of safety. In fact, they have some of the highest standards for quality, safety and efficacy in the world. You can have a high degree of confidence in a product that has the TGA approval as shown by an AUST R or AUST L number.

The same cannot necessarily be said for products or ingredients brought in from overseas which have not been through the TGA approval process.

What could be wrong with an imported product?

You can’t be confident that the ingredient stated on the label is what is actually in the bottle. Raw material substitution is not uncommon in certain parts of the world…especially in herbal products.

There is no guarantee of compliance with Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP). This means they may not be tested for substitution, bacteria, heavy metals or other contaminants which could be detrimental to your health.  GMP means there are controls in place to reduce risk of cross-contamination or damage of products through the manufacturing process.

You do not know the extent to which the product has been tested and studied for efficacy and safety.

How do I choose your nutritional and herbal supplements?

All of the medicines dispensed in my clinic are for dispensing by a qualified health practitioner following a consultation. 

They are generally not available over the counter. They are often more potent and, I believe, better quality in terms of the forms* of

ingredients, the formulation or combination of ingredients and the purity. I spend a considerable amount of time selecting the supplements I use with my clients. 

I regularly review the various products available to ensure you are receiving what I consider to be the best supplement for the purpose intended.

There are a small handful of Australian suppliers making TGA approved products for use by naturopaths and herbalists. I have now worked with these suppliers for many years. In most cases, I have gotten to know the owners, senior staff and the technical people on their team. I can ring their tech support people. I can check something if needs be. I can be confident that the products contain what they say on the label and the formulations have been created in response to clinical studies. And therefore, so can you.


So, don’t be tempted to jump in and order something online from some overseas website. 


Rest assured, there is so much that you and I can do to achieve your health objectives using high quality TGA-approved products and incorporating changes to your diet and lifestyle.


If you are thinking of importing a product for your own use, consider how much you know about it, where the raw materials are sourced, how it is manufactured and whether it has sufficient research to justify the claims made about it.


If you would like some help working out what nutritional or herbal support would be best for you, call the clinic on 03 9620 9503 and make a naturopathic appointment.


In good health



Melbourne CBD

* different ingredients (nutrients especially) come in different forms (that is they may be attached to another molecule to have a slightly different chemical structure). This can affect how they are absorbed in the gut and how they are utilised in the body, resulting in different outcomes. As an example, this explains why some iron supplements will make you constipated while others don’t, or why some vitamin C formulations can irritate the stomach and others are ok.

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