Defined by Health Canada , natural health products are naturally occurring substances that are consumed for the purpose of diagnosing, treating or preventing illness, maintaining or promoting health. Natural health product substances include plant, algal, fungal, or animal materials.
For centuries, many natural health products have been used in traditional medicines and are known to be effective for health maintenance and disease treatment. The cooperative or synergistic effects of intrinsic multi-active compounds on human physiological systems produce the beneficial health effects of natural health remedies. However, very little was known regarding the chemical compositions and biological mechanisms due to the complexity and secrecy of these natural compounds.
In recent years, natural health products, complementary and alternative therapies have been increasingly adopted worldwide. Growing scientific evidence suggests that some of natural health products could contribute significantly to health maintenance and disease treatment and prevention. This trend has spurred a shift in research and development efforts worldwide to further study natural health products.