Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Nicholas Fuller, Research Fellow, Clinical Trials Development & Analysis, University of Sydney

A new multimillion dollar deal between Swisse Wellness and CSIRO has raised questions about the integrity of Australia’s premier scientific research organisation and the motivations behind the deal. Another important question is whether consumers will benefit from such partnerships.

Swisse manufactures complementary and alternative medicines, which are widely used by different populations. Research has shown people like complementary medicines because they find natural alternatives to be in line with their values and beliefs.

Complementary or natural medicines have often been around for centuries, but frequently research supporting their efficacy, particularly for the treatment of obesity, is weak or lacking.

Are alternative therapies and science a good mix?

Although complementary medicines have received a lot of attention recently due to safety risks, there are a number of complementary medicines that are beneficial for physical health conditions.

Some complementary medicines show potential but require further investigation on a larger scale and over a longer time period. One such example are capsaicinoids, the active components in chilli peppers, which has been shown to have a biologically plausible mechanism of action for weight loss. But rigorous studies with bigger sample sizes are needed to evaluate how effective it is long-term and whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

Likewise, ginger extract and gingerols show potential for preventing type 2 diabetes but must be investigated further in more human studies. Fibre supplements appear to have the best supporting evidence and best potential so far for the management of obesity and associated metabolic disease.

There are also a range of natural medicines that show potential for improving mental health conditions. Curcumin, which is the active ingredient of the Indian spice turmeric, has been compared in head-to-head studies with the antidepressant fluoxetine. It has been shown to work as well as the pharmaceutical drug, in proof-of-concept research. Similar findings have been shown with extracts from the spice saffron and St John’s wort extract, although definitive research is needed.

But there’s also a significant number of complementary medicines with no proven efficacy or often the data that supports their claims has come from poor quality studies with small sample sizes.

There’s also the potential for deception when manufacturers of alternative medicines use research evidence to back up claims for products that may contain similar ingredients to products tested for efficacy, but aren’t in fact the same. A deal like this provides Swisse with the opportunity to further validate their specific products.

People are taking it, so we need to know if it works

Complementary medicines have shown some potential in treating physical and mental illnesses but rigorous research is desperately needed.

Deals like this one between Swisse Wellness and CSIRO have the potential to further address the gap in information where complementary and alternative medicines are concerned. But this must be on the basis this research is objective and peer reviewed.

In a challenging funding environment, industry support is playing an even greater role but there is a risk of bias when the research is not conducted independent of the industry partner or when results are not disseminated to the public.

Collaborations between industry and leading institutions should be encouraged to support research and development into complementary medicines around product safety and the evidence supporting their claims, so long as the research undertaken adheres to strict academic standards.

Complementary medicine may have a greater role to play, especially when taking into consideration the fact people like to take it, and they stick to it. The continuation of good quality research will tell us if the money spent on complementary medicines is money wasted or well spent.

Authors: Nicholas Fuller, Research Fellow, Clinical Trials Development & Analysis, University of Sydney

Read more http://theconversation.com/what-will-consumers-gain-from-research-into-complementary-medicines-67784

Writers Wanted

Not feeling motivated to tackle those sneaky COVID kilos? Try these 4 healthy eating tips instead


Sydney Festival review: The Rise and Fall of Saint George shows the transformative power of music


The Conversation


Prime Minister's Remarks to Joint Party Room

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is great to be back in the party room, the joint party room. It’s great to have everybody back here. It’s great to officially welcome Garth who joins us. Welcome, Garth...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Business News

7 foolproof tips for bidding successfully at a property auction

Auctions can be beneficial for prospective buyers, as they are transparent and fair. If you reach the limit you are willing to pay, you can simply walk away. Another benefit of an auction is tha...

Dominique Grubisa - avatar Dominique Grubisa

Getting Ready to Code? These Popular and Easy Programming Languages Can Get You Started

According to HOLP (History Encyclopedia of Programing Languages), there are more than 8,000 programming languages, some dating as far back as the 18th century. Although there might be as many pr...

News Co - avatar News Co

Avoid These Mistakes When Changing up Your Executive Career

Switching up industries is a valid move at any stage in your career, even if you’re an executive. Doing so at this stage can be a lot more intimidating, however, and it can be quite difficult know...

News Co - avatar News Co

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion