What are Natural Health Products?
‘Natural health products’ (NHP) is a term used to describe products made from natural sources that are sold to prevent sickness or promote health. A NHP includes:
- vitamins and minerals;
- herbal remedies;
- homeopathic medicines;
- traditional medicines from different cultures
- amino acids and essential fatty acids.
You can buy NHPs in pharmacies and other stores without a prescription, or you can get them from a care provider.
Are Natural Health Products Safe?
The words “natural” or “holistic” do not always mean safe or effective. Some substances can be harmful if you take too much of them, while others can cause side effects or allergic reactions. Even if a product is safe for adults, it may not be safe for children. Children are still growing and developing, and their bodies may respond differently to a product or medicine than adults’ bodies.
Are some Natural Health Products Dangerous?
Yes. Even though herbal products claim to be “all natural,” they may be not be safe for everyone. The active ingredient in herbal medicines may interact with some health conditions. Also, some herbal supplements may cause damage to organs, or block the action of prescription drugs.
What else should I know before taking a Natural Health Product?
NHPs can interact with medications, nutrients and foods and can even have toxic (dangerous) effects.
Just because a product has a NPN does not mean it is necessarily safe if taken in a way that is not specified on the label. Vitamin & mineral supplements are one example – too much of what you think is a “good thing” may actually be harmful. Energy drinks are another example. Although they are a NHP approved for sale in Canada, they are still high in caffeine and sugar, and not good for our health.
Before you take any natural health product, always check with a medical doctor, pharmacist, or a dietitian first.
Are these Products Regulated?
Health Canada has a Natural Health Products Directorate that regulates products for sale in Canada. Check the label. If a product has a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or a Natural Product Number (NPN) or Drug Identification Number – Homeopathic Medicine (DIN-HM), it has been assessed by Health Canada.
The Natural Health Products Directorate of Health Canada regulates products that have a wide margin of safety.
Read more about Natural Health Product Regulations in Canada
This section contains natural health product information tailored to reach a wide-ranging audience, including consumers and industry. It includes an overview of NHP regulations in Canada, information sheets, a NHP database, information on safety, and the status of NHPs for the market in Canada.