Natural health products (NHPs) can be used for a variety of health reasons, such as preventing or treating an illness or condition, reducing health risks, or maintaining overall good health. NHPs are often referred to as "complementary" or "alternative" medicines. In Canada, a large variety of NHPs are available, including:
Did you know that many everyday products, like some toothpastes, antiperspirants, shampoos, facial products and mouthwashes are also classified as natural health products? Look for the Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) on the label to identify the product as an NHP.
Canada is a global leader in the regulation of NHPs. Health Canada assesses all NHPs before authorizing their sale in Canada to ensure that the products are safe, effective and of high quality.
Natural health products are safe.
The Canadian approach to regulating NHPs is often referred to as a “pre-approval” system, which means that all NHPs must be approved by Health Canada before they are allowed to be legally sold in Canada.
Many NHPs have a long history of safe use for various conditions, with a large and growing body of scientific research. All products authorized for sale must provide valid, high-quality scientific and/or traditional evidence supporting any advertised health claims and demonstrate their safety and efficacy.
Evidence may include clinical trial data or references to published studies, journals, pharmacopoeias and traditional resources. The type and amount of supporting evidence required depends on the proposed health claim of the product and its overall risks.
In order to sell a natural health product in Canada, a company must have a product and site licence. In addition to providing safety evidence to support the product, these licenses require manufacturers to maintain proper distribution records and have proper procedures for product recalls and for the handling, storage and delivery of their products.
In order to receive a product licence, companies who manufacture NHPs must complete a Product Licence Application. This detailed document about the product must include:
To be granted a Natural Product Number (NPN), information supporting the efficacy of a product must be provided and assessed by Health Canada.
To get product and site licenses, specific labelling and packaging requirements must be met, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) must be followed, and suitable safety and efficacy evidence must be provided.
Always look for the NPN or DIN-HM on a product label. This number is your assurance that the product has been authorized for sale in Canada, and is safe and effective when used according the instructions on the label.
Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of NHPs and how to use them to support a naturally healthy lifestyle? Explore our blog and Lifestyle Tips pages, and consider signing up for our newsletter. To find a CHFA Member natural health store near you, click here.
Do you own a business in the natural health industry? Learn about the many benefits of becoming a CHFA Member here.
All of this information, and more, is available on Health Canada’s website here.