Role of Dietary Supplements in Functional Medicine Discussed at Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus Briefing

With healthcare legislation recently being passed, prevention and wellness continue to be hot topics on Capitol Hill and in the news. Included in the discussion is a new paradigm of prevention – functional medicine – that is gaining momentum in the healthcare arena. Functional medicine can be described as personalized healthcare that incorporates both conventional and alternative therapies. The functional medicine model focuses on primary prevention of the underlying causes for serious illness to prevent complex chronic disease. Dietary supplements play an integral role in this model.

Recognizing this, the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus, in cooperation with the two leading trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and the Natural Products Association (NPA), recently hosted a speaker lunch briefing for 60 attendees titled, “Functional Medicine: Frontline Against Chronic Disease.” This was the sixth in a series of speaker briefings since the inception of the Dietary Supplement Caucus in 2005. The speaker briefings are intended to educate Congressional staffers on important issues related to the safety and benefits of dietary supplements.

Co-chair of the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) opened the briefing, noting that he was honored to be there. “I have been part of the [dietary supplement] industry for a long time, as a manufacturer and as a consumer of the products and now as a Congressman,” Chaffetz said. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), a member of the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus, echoed these comments, reminding the crowd that, “people need to have choices” when it comes to health and wellness. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Health, also attended the briefing and spoke with attendees afterwards.

Mark Hyman, M.D., Medical Director of The UltraWellness Center and nationally recognized author, speaker and authority on prevention and wellness, spoke about the importance of treating the entire system, not just the symptoms, when it comes to health conditions or illnesses.

“The irony is that the current healthcare system will pay for expensive medical treatments, but it won’t pay for dietary supplements to keep our bodies healthy,” said Dr. Hyman. “As a nation, we are overfed but undernourished. Dietary supplements play an important role in functional and preventive medicine.”

Dr. Hyman went on to give examples of patients who had come to him, after seeing a series of doctors, because they wanted him to look at their entire system, not just the symptoms of illness. He discussed how he categorized the various illnesses of these patients into their various bodily systems, such as the digestive system, and then worked with his patients to get their bodies back on track through proper diet, exercise, dietary supplements and use of prescription medications, when necessary.

“By reducing the burden of illness in patients, we can increase their return on investment and quality of life,” said Dr. Hyman.

The briefings will continue on a quarterly basis, focusing on topics relevant to the dietary supplement industry and wellness arena and will feature speakers who will address the latest science and offer practical information. These briefings will also serve to position the Dietary Supplement Caucus as a resource for Congressional offices with questions regarding the benefit, quality and safety of dietary supplement products.

About the event sponsors: The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing dietary supplement manufacturers and ingredient suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our 70+ manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit

The Natural Products Association (NPA), founded in 1936, is the largest and oldest non-profit organization dedicated to the natural products industry. The Natural Products Association represents more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products, including foods, dietary supplements, and health/beauty aids. As the leading voice of the natural products industry, the Natural Products Association's mission is to advocate for the rights of consumers to have access to products that will maintain and improve their health, and for the rights of retailers and suppliers to sell these products.

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