Why you need to look for the science behind your natural health products
More and more people are realizing the benefits and power of nature when it comes to taking care of one’s health. It’s no wonder that interest in natural health products, including supplements and personal care products made with naturally occurring substances, has been growing around the world. This can be attributed to the increasing awareness of various diseases and preference for a healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyle. There has been similar growth in products that are labeled organic in the past few years. Made or grown without toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers or GMOs, organic products are perceived to be safer and gentler on our bodies.
This has led to a proliferation of consumer products labeled with “natural” and “organic,” both globally and here in the Philippines. Unfortunately, with so many products, it has become difficult for consumers to identify which ones are true to these labels. Natural means made with 100% naturally occurring ingredients, while organic is the most heavily regulated food system.
Unlike natural or other eco-label claims, organic offers government-backed assurance that the ingredients are grown with no toxic synthetic pesticides, toxic synthetic herbicides, or chemical NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) fertilizers. In terms of processing, organic should have no artificial colors or flavors, no artificial preservatives, no irradiated products or ingredients, and no GMOs. There are also specific requirements that must be verified by a certifying body such as the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for any product to earn the organic label.
However, some companies simply use these terms to attract a more premium price from health- and environment-conscious individuals. Several reports even warn consumers from manufacturers that fortify “herbal health products” with additives or drugs, negatively impacting the safety and authenticity of the products’ claims.
While many Filipinos are aware that natural health products (NHPs) can help in achieving optimal health, not many know that they vary in quality and that there are standards to be met to ensure safety and efficacy. In fact, in a study done in the Eastern Visayas region, participants claimed to know organic products and their benefits without being aware of what an organic product was and its standardization requirements.
That’s why it’s important for all consumers to look for science in the natural products they use and consume. It is through these scientific processes and studies that NHPs get their safety and efficacy to help ensure one’s health.
Before herbs or plants become the NHPs that we can ingest, it is best that they go through stringent scientific tests to properly identify the different chemicals active within them, as well as to better understand their effects in the body. Aside from important nutrients found in nature, there are also toxic chemicals that occur naturally, like mercury and arsenic. Tests like soil analyses ensure that these harmful elements are not found in the ingredients for natural health products. Similar tests can identify which specific part or species of the plant is optimal and safe to use in supplements. Believe it or not, there are life-threatening risks that could arise from products made from the wrong species of plant, or contaminated with or containing toxic substances.
Science also helps us determine the ideal dose and daily intake of our natural health products. That’s why properly processed supplements will have complete information, from its ingredients to the amount of nutrients they contain per serving, according to a recommended daily limit. Without proper guidance and scientifically recommended dosage, consumers can actually overdose from a natural supplement and cause health problems instead of alleviating them.
Herbal medicine in the Philippines may have had a long history, but without the exacting measures of science, natural health products may be ineffective and even dangerous. It is important for people to look for and learn how to understand the information on NHPs and personal care; it’s not enough to have the words “natural” and “organic” on the labels. That’s why a big part of Sekaya’s mission is to help consumers get the most out of the natural health products they use by recognizing the science behind them.
As an emerging player in the industry, Sekaya, produced by Unilab’s natural products company Synnovate Pharma Corporation, has been providing high-quality natural products such as Botanic Infusions, Raw Actives, Food Supplements, and Botanicare that go through rigorous testing in pharma-grade facilities to ensure their efficacy, safety, and purity.
To help educate consumers and further explain the importance of science in creating high-quality natural solutions, Sekaya’s Prescribing Nature advocacy focuses on promoting the healing benefits of nature as validated by science.
Providing resources that discuss and define pertinent information regarding natural health products, traditional uses and benefits of ingredients, nutritional value, important factors in testing and processing, and distinctions of claims and labels, Sekaya strives to arm Filipinos with knowledge to help them come up with informed choices about the products they consume.