Natural Health Products (NHP’s) are already fairly heavily regulated in Canada, and we have one of best programs in the world to ensure that the products on our market are safe and high quality, but Health Canada has set its sights on tightening those restrictions even further and making life harder for natural health product manufacturers. Natural Health Products have been defined as things like vitamins, minerals, herbs, homeopathic medicines, probiotics, essential fatty acids, protein powders and other supplements, traditional Chinese medicine and can even include body care products like toothpastes, body creams, shampoos and much more. Generally, if a product makes a health claim that it can prevent or treat any sort of ailment and it doesn’t fall under the definition of a drug, it is regulated as an NHP.
Some rather disturbing changes were slipped into law in Canada under Bill C-47 (sections 500-504), the latest budget bill that have changed the definition of a natural health product giving Health Canada some unnecessary and disturbing powers that have the potential to seriously harm the natural health product industry in Canada. That action is making a lot of people in the natural health industry very nervous and rightfully so. Changing the definitions on the sly like that is dirty pool and we have to assume there is a plan behind it.
In conjunction with that, they have also proposed significant changes to the fees and fines natural health product manufacturers are subject to, which could also have a negative impact on the products currently available on our market and make it much harder for new products to make it to market. The proposal indicates that small businesses will be eligible for reimbursements on many of those fees, but that will require a significant administrative burden that sours the deal.
If you’ve read enough and are ready to do what you can to stand up against these changes write a letter to your MP and tell them you rely on natural health products to keep yourself and your family healthy and want them to represent your interests on this matter. You can find a pre-written letter here. You can also sign the e-petition here. Now, share this information with everyone you know that relys on natural health products!
I’ve been in this industry for over twenty years, and I’ll be honest with you, even after spending eight hours reading through all the materials, it’s hard to sort out what they’re up to. Most of my colleagues are screaming bloody murder saying that Health Canada has an agenda to destroy the natural health industry, including practitioners and make conventional medicine the only valid option for Canadians and that definitely isn’t out of the question, but I’m a big believer in trying to objectively see the nuance in a situation and understand it from every angle.
If you haven’t seen this discussion paper written by Shawn Buckley, lawyer and President of the Natural Health Products Protection Association (NHPPA) a not-for-profit industry watch dog, it might be worth a read to get the perspective of those in the industry that are concerned about these changes. https://nhppa.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/NHPPA-Discussion-Paper-on-2023-Health-Canada-Initiatives-Revised-June-26-2023.pdf
While I don’t fully share the NHPPA conclusions and predictions about the ultimate agenda of Health Canada to remove natural health products and providers from the Canadian health landscape, I do understand the heinous nature of the influence of big pharma on the natural health sector. I believe it’s naive to think that influence hasn’t reached senior levels of management at Health Canada, whether that’s conscious or simply through the biases the pharmaceutial industry has done an excellent job at creating since the 1800’s. They’ve always had an agenda to destroy any competition for their products and they still invest a lot of time and money to those efforts. That machine runs on money. Period.
I believe in the innate goodness of all people including those at Health Canada and in big pharma. I think most of us are just trying to do what we think is best and while some at the top level might be motivated to destroy the natural health industry because we are “competition”, I doubt very much that most go to work every day with that agenda in mind, at least not with any conscious intent.
We are living in a time of “us vs. them” and we HAVE to pull our energy out of that polarizing and destructive space if we’re going to successfully bring humanity to a new level of being and I see this as a great opportunity to do so. I could write pages about what I think is happening with power structures vs. people, and I do think we’re in a great awakening moment here on planet Earth. I know how hard it is to resist the impulse to go to the place of outrage when “the evil Empire” we call government is exerting its force on us and I’m not saying we should roll over and let them win, but we can’t beat them at their own game. The forces of darkness will always win at the game of war, after all, they invented that game and even though we are in a pivotal moment of being called to stand up against the dark veil, the way of light is with love, compassion and understanding for the people that are under the spell of the evil empire and exerting its will by doing what they’ve been conditioned to think is best. Most of us have likely been under a spell or two of our own at some point in our immortal souls’ journey and we are blessed to be awake this time around (at least that’s how I perceive my reality, yours may be completely different and I respect that too).
Here are my thoughts from that place of trying to see both sides and understand how our oppressors may be doing what they think is best and how we might be able to lovingly break the spell and invite them to see our version of the truth.
I worked closely with Alain Roy for a number of years. He is an icon in the natural health product industry, has worked for a number of very successful companies, developed products, does consulting work and is the current president of Veeva, a very reputable natural health product company. He helped me understand the industry and its relationship with Health Canada and the history of the regulation of natural health products.
I know many people, including Mr. Buckley, think that natural health products shouldn’t be regulated at all, but I disagree. In fact, Alain gave me some perspective and education in that regard and told me that he and a number of other CEO’s/Presidents of reputable natural health products actually petitioned Health Canada to regulate the industry many years ago. He said our markets were being infiltrated by unethical companies and the ethical ones were being negatively impacted by inferior and cheap products flooding the market. The risks to the natural health industry as a whole were great, and in order to maintain public trust in the industry they needed to get those unsafe and ineffective products removed from the market. Being in a heavily regulated industry isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you can trust the regulators that is.
Our current system is pretty good, not perfect, and things were slipping through the cracks a bit but that didn’t seem to be a big enough problem for Health Canada to address it, but during C0V1D there was a sudden surge of novel products on the market, mostly from US companies making claims about detoxing spike protein or preventing and curing this “novel” illness (whether it actually was novel at all is another story-but that’s even beyond the realm of Health Canada). Health Canada is tasked with protecting the public from unethical and potentially dangerous products on our markets and I can’t fault them for feeling that they need to address this. While there are a lot of new supplements on the market that are probably excellent and can really help people with the effects of C0V1D and of the shots, the sad reality is that there are many unethical and greedy profiteers that will try to scam the public with crappy supplements. In fact, I tried to look up some of those new products myself and concluded that they didn’t pass my own litmus tests and I wouldn’t recommend them to my clients. In one case, the CEO of the company had zero background in natural health but had impressive business experience. They also weren’t disclosing what was actually in the products and what evidence their claims were based on. Those are huge red-flags for me. All the companies I work with provide full lists of ingredients with their dosages and you can easily find the evidence they use to make their claims. I was upset that these companies were flooding our market and I saw a lot of well-meaning coaches and practitioners getting swept up in it and becoming salespeople for them. That whole situation is what prompted my article Help with Supplements.
On the other hand, the inability to make a claim for a natural health product that could potentially heal disease and prevent people from learning that there are non-pharmaceutical options to restore and maintain health has been a huge problem in our current system and these changes could make that situation even worse. Mr. Buckley gives a few solid examples in his discussion paper, but I’ll give you one based on my own experience. Berberine is an herb with incredible potential to regulate blood sugar as well as, if not better than the classic diabetes drug, Metformin. Allowing it to be marketed as a natural health product that could prevent diabetes could save countless lives and dollars, but it’s a direct competitor with big pharma and they will do whatever they can to malign it and get it removed from the market. We’ve seen the influence of chemical pharmacology on natural medicine since the beginning of medicine and to this day, the main reason natural medicine is viewed with such disdain is a direct result of the smear campaign that began in the 1800’s from pharmacists that thought the new chemistry was vastly superior to blood-letting and incantations. Destroying the competition that we see as inferior is, after all, human nature.
Despite the fact that it’s common knowledge that diet, exercise and supplementation can reverse and cure many diseases, it is illegal for anyone to make a health claim on diseases that are considered “incurable” such as diabetes. Health Canada regulations tie the hands of even the licensed natural health practitioners such as homeopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists and naturopaths to give their patients and clients truthful information about what natural health products can do and how they could be used as alternatives to conventional medicine. The regulations on these professionals are stifling, to say the least and it appears that the current intentions of Health Canada will make this worse. If natural health practitioners can’t tell people that their interventions can truly heal serious diseases, then we’re on track for an even bigger pharma monopoly.
Another major issue in this fight is the tendency for those that don’t understand the nature of natural medicine to insist on applying the standard of the double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to natural health products and interventions. That may be appropriate in a few instances, but for the vast majority of natural interventions, it is not. Natural health products are different, they don’t work like drugs do; they are often working on correcting root cause issues versus treating “disease”. For example, trying to study a nutrient like magnesium or vitamin C with the “gold standard” double-blind, placebo-controlled study isn’t even possible because we all have varying levels of stores of nutrients, we all extract different levels of nutrients from our food and we may use nutrients at different rates making it impossible to control the variables. Not to mention the costs of running clinical trials. Even if we consider a plant compound like Berberine that might be feasible to run through a clinical trial, it’s important to understand that no one can or will invest the millions of dollars required to conduct a trial when they can’t secure a patent that would allow for recovery of their investment. That is a game that only pharma can play and win at. It simply can’t be applied to natural medicines. We must rely on traditional and anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness and safety of natural health products and I’m concerned that Health Canada is moving away from that model under the auspices of “public safety”.
As for the proposed fees or potential fines for natural health product manufacturers, I feel that this is something that should be left alone for the time being and certainly not using the same criteria that is used for pharma. While I understand the need for Health Canada to step up their inspections of facilities and make sure manufacturers are meeting the requirements that are already in place for quality assurance and regulation, I think we should continue funding that publicly. Let’s face it, any fees inflicted on producers will get passed on to the consumer, so we’ll be funding it ourselves one way or another. If and when we get to a point where Canada has a publicly-funded Medicaid system, which MUST include inexpensive natural health products, then it makes sense to have fees for producers, but at the scale of their profit margins.
The reality is that Health Canada should have big pharma firmly in its sights at this moment in history and shouldn’t be wasting precious time and resources on the natural health industry. The fact that they are focusing on an industry that poses less risk to the public than that of getting struck by lightning is telling (reference to that statistic is in the discussion paper from Mr. Buckley). The mountain of evidence incriminating the pharma-medical complex grows by the day. You can find links and info relative the pandemic alone here, but the corruption started long, long ago. Most recently, we have Dr. Aseem Malhotra on a world-tour calling out the medical establishment, journals, researchers and their cozy, corrupt relationship with the pharma industry speaking to sold-out rooms full of doctors and getting standing ovations. When we’ve cleaned up the corrupt mess of pharma in medicine, then spending some time and money cleaning up the natural health industry MIGHT make sense, but only if it comes with public-funding to study natural medicines and fully support their use as a first step in correcting health.
Wow. If you’ve gotten this far you must care enough to take some action!
Number one, let your elected officials know where you stand. Take any or all of my words and use them to craft your own letters to your Federal Member of Parliament. You can use the form letter at SaveOurSupplements if you’re not into writing letters.
Number two, sign the e-petition here.
Number three, SHARE this with anyone you know that uses natural health products!