Why is independent product accreditation needed?
Reliable natural health products are difficult to make!
Natural health products are, by definition, natural and therefore variable and complex. For example, products made from grapes (wine of different colors/qualities, vinegar and table grapes) are not the same products. This is even more the case for natural health products which have thousands of different sources and a much more complex manufacturing process.
One of the great potential advantages of natural health products is their complexity. Human bodies are complex and one advantage of natural health products is that they can act on many different body systems at once. This means, like with wine, we need to preserve this complexity from year to year and batch to batch to realize this potential advantage of natural health products.
Therefore, to produce a reliable product, that is the same over years, we need to control all of the steps in making them. We need the same raw materials, the same processing and the same manufacturing over time. This is even more difficult than for wine as there are many more steps to control. The makers of the most reliable natural health products control all of these steps. The “product” is often called the “process”.
When we have a product that is reliable from batch to batch then research on that finished product is reproducible over time. This specific evidence is then the “Benefit” of the product.
Many people call this best practice, “Source to Benefit” control of the product.
We are in an “Anti-evidence” environment
As soon as we recognize that the evidence for natural health products is product specific, a big challenge faces us. Unfortunately, in most countries, there are limited ways to find products with specific evidence.
Difficulty finding specific evidence products is a problem. It means there are no incentives for the industry to do serious research on their products. In fact, it is worse than that. The researching companies in effect fund the innovation of everyone else, who can “borrow” the evidence to support their, different products.
Confusion and lack of empowerment of consumers and health professionals
The difficulty of finding specific evidence products creates confusion. It has led to an explosion of commodity copy products and thousands of apparently similar products on the shelves. Inevitably this leads to a price war with reduction in quality of the products. Also, More confusion results from competing stories about the value of new combination products and many myths and misunderstandings about natural health products. This leaves almost everyone basing product choices on insecure ground.
Myths and misunderstandings about natural health products
Public and health professional perceptions are influenced by some common myths and misunderstandings. These myths and misunderstandings confuse the linkages between “substances” and finished products. A “substance” is a variable natural ingredient like a herb, probiotic or fish oil. This is completely different from a finished product that you can buy.
Some myths and misunderstandings are below:
1. Evidence myth – “substance is scientifically proven” not specific products
2. Essential substance myth – the “substance is required for human health” so supplementing it in your healthy diet is good
3. Potency myth – the “more substance” the better
4. Combination myth – adding “more substances” creates more benefits
5. Placebo myth – it worked for me so it must be good
Why is scientific research of natural health products important?
Billions of people around the world rely on natural health products for their health. The enormous potential benefit to human health is shown by the fact that Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew have documented 33,443 plants with medicinal actions, most of which are yet to be fully researched. It is not that research is lacking but the reproducibility of the products and the health outcomes they deliver in the real world need urgent improvement to unlock this enormous potential benefit.
Robust, independent and transparent
Until EBE’s product accreditation, a non-commercial, thought-leader led and transparent mechanism has not been available to global consumers. The EBE product accreditation answers the 2 crucial questions we need to answer to identify specific evidence products:
Which product can I buy today, in my country, that
- has shown benefits in specific clinical trials on the finished product?
- is the same as the one used in this clinical evidence?
What is the responsibility of the natural health industry?
Those in the industry who are attempting to do serious research of their finished products need to be supported. These companies are taking all the risks and funding the marketing stories of their larger, better distributed competitors. Innovation can, and should, start with building the evidence for the reproducibility of the products. Irrespective of the type of evidence, that this evidence is product specific is a key truth for the future of a healthy industry and better acceptance and credibility of the sector in mainstream healthcare.
EBE is dedicated to supporting brand owners who are building the evidence for natural health products. EBE believes that companies who are prepared to have an independent assessment of their reproducible products and clinical trials are to be celebrated. Even more, if these products pass the EBE standards and become accredited, more people will be empowered to choose them, people will get better health outcomes, and this will encourage more research for the benefit of humankind.