Many patients use complementary medicine (CM) products, such as vitamins, minerals and herbs as part of self-care without professional advice or disclosure to their doctors. While use of CM products is gaining awareness by the medical community and there is mounting evidence for their safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness, there is also the potential for adverse events from inappropriate use and/or withdrawal, as well as interactions with other medicines. Due to the unique and complex properties of many CM products, research evidence is specific to individual preparations and this can lead to confusion when assessing label claims and interpreting the results of clinical trials and systematic reviews. While the Australian regulatory environment for CM products is the same as for prescription medicines and is based on risk, there is a great need for consumers and clinicians to have access to easily understood, evidence-based information to facilitate informed decision-making.
Keywords: complementary medicine; evidence-based practice; herbal medicine; integrative medicine; nutritional medicine; supplement.
© 2017 Royal Australasian College of Physicians.