Send to

Choose Destination
Intern Med J. 2017 Sep;47(9):992-998. doi: 10.1111/imj.13534.

Complementary medicine products: interpreting the evidence base.

Author information

School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
National Institute of Complementary Medicine, Western Sydney University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


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.


complementary medicine; evidence-based practice; herbal medicine; integrative medicine; nutritional medicine; supplement

Comment in

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center