International Experts to Share Latest Research in Natural Health Products

February 4, 2009 By

Vancouver – Researchers are identifying safe and effective natural health products (NHPs) from among the thousands of choices currently available to Canadians.

Gateway to Wellness, The Sixth Annual NHP Research Conference and Trade Show, Feb. 18-21 will explore breakthroughs in understanding the factors that determine how people respond to NHPs, as well as promising treatments emerging from two of the world’s oldest medical traditions: Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

“Canada is a world leader in the development of regulations that recognize the value and legitimacy of traditional healing systems and the products that arise from them,” says Paula Brown, director of applied research in biosciences at BCIT and conference co-chair. “At the same time, there are significant challenges to overcome in terms of verifying the health claims and assuring the safety and quality of individual products.”

“New technologies enable us to take on these challenges,” Brown adds, “and our conference is going to reflect that.”

“It’s an exciting time to be conducting research in this area,” says conference co-chair Dr. Susan Murch, Canada Research Chair in Natural Products Chemistry at UBC Okanagan, “because of the new technologies that allow us to understand individual differences in genetic make-up, nutrition and how the chemistry of plants, microbes and other NHPs can affect human health.”

Global leaders in the field will present findings spanning traditional knowledge to state-of-the-art novel discoveries, according to Dr. Ann Eastman, president of the NHP Research Society. “The theme of this year’s conference reflects British Columbia’s positioning as a portal to Asia,” adds Eastman, “and the role research plays in unlocking the social, economic, and health benefits of NHPs.”

Gateway to Wellness offers an opportunity to explore the latest scientific breakthroughs with the potential to impact the health issues that matter most to consumers, says Brown, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. “We are identifying the safest, most effective, and best approaches to create the highest quality NHPs for prevention, treatment, and symptom relief of these serious health concerns.”

NHPs are already a strong element of Canadians’ approach to managing their health. According to Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate, 71 percent of the population reports using some form of natural health product either regularly, or seasonally.

“The NHP industry has revenues of about $2.5 billion per year in Canada and revenues are expected to grow annually as the industry and consumer demand continue to expand,” adds co-chair Dr. Susan Murch. “Nearly 75% of the NHPs sold in Canada are manufactured here, and there are more than 40,000 different products on Canadian shelves”.

Canada’s innovative approach to regulation of NHPs will be highlighted at Gateway to Wellness. The conference’s opening keynote address is to be given by Michelle Boudreau, the new Director General of Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate. Conference sessions and an international trade show will run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from Thursday Feb. 19 to Saturday Feb. 21 at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.

The NHP Research Society of Canada is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 by a collaboration of academic, industry and government researchers from across Canada. Its mission is to support and promote scientifically rigorous research and education on natural health products.