The 4th conference of The Natural Health Product Research Society of Canada (NHPRS), with a theme of ‘Tradition to Technology” was held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from May 10th to 13th. The conference, a key event for North America’s leading natural health product researchers as well as companies supporting these research endeavours, featured 300 attendees from academia, government and industry, primarily from Canada, with some international participation as well. NHPRS itself is a network of researchers that share a passion for Natural Health Products (NHPs) and a quest for knowledge about new products and traditional methods.
The intensive, four-day event delivered sessions on the ethics of marketing and reporting science, perspectives on risk: benefit analysis on consumption of products, market overview presentations, a product quality symposium, as well as sessions on natural health products research related to cardiovascular disease management, cancer risk reduction, cognitive health, diabetes management, traditional healing practices and much more.
For the first time in its existence NHPRS partnered with another national organisation to hold its annual conference: The Canadian Herb, Spice & Natural Health Product Coalition. This ‘Coalition’ brings together a vast ensemble of local and provincial organisations, growers and companies involved in production of herbs, spices, and Natural Health Products. The coalition’s goal is to promote and improve quality, recognition and market development for speciality crops. It is very involved in the development of Good Agricultural Practices that promote better standards and traceability, and consequently better safety, for agricultural ingredients, and so the combination event represented the entire value chain in concert with the scientific community and also presented seminars on issues such as sustainability, wildcrafting and creating business value.
We achieved a tour de force by bringing together an extraordinary mix of people ranging from academia researcher to growers, First Nations, NHP users, health care professionals and policy makers, observed conference Co-Chair Dr. Alister Muir. “Although the range of interests was wide, we were able to give value and a high level scientific program that supports and does credit to the NHPRS mission”.
Co-Chair Connie Kehler Executive Director of the Canadian Herb, Spice & Natural Health Product Coalition added, “We’re pleased with the outcome of the event. We were able to combine a discussion of real business issues facing our members with excellent coverage of emerging science in natural health products. This is extremely important in building a bridge between industry and the research community”. Ms. Kehler concluded, “Collectively we’re all working towards substantiating and delivering high quality, efficacious natural health products – and we need to work together in order to do so. This conference was a perfect example.”
Culture, development, market and relations with First Nations
Denali Biotechnologies Inc (Alaska) presented a success story in its dealings with First Nations in partnership, where benefits, including intellectual property are shared. Dr Maureen McKenzie, Ph.D. presented a development pipeline of most interesting products from wild berry extracts to antiviral compounds from seaweed.
A similar partnership is also in the works in British Columbia at an earlier stage.
Genetics and analytical science
Cutting edge science was also in the limelight: genetics/genomics for species identification and improvement; analytical science with the newest technology and methods to eliminate contaminants, verify/validate active molecules and improve end product quality.
Risk versus Benefits: Why consumer choose to buy NHPs
For the consumer, we learned that the decision to buy a therapeutic product, natural or pharmaceutical is not based on the notion of risk. Efficacy to relieve symptoms or to prevent disease remains the key decision factor, much ahead of safety; consumers tend to believe safety is inherent. So, NHP’s legendary safety becomes a consideration in consumer decision-making.
Pharmacist’s role in prevention of Chronic Age Related Diseases (CARDS)
Mr Farid Wassef, a pharmacist from Ontario made a convincing, well-referenced presentation on the growing importance of the pharmacist’s implication in prevention of aged related diseases with pharmaceutical care, NHP and Nutrition.
Jean-Yves Dionne, NHPRS Director notes, « The NHPRS of Canada conference is an invaluable source of information on developments in the world of natural products research and validation of NHPs. Each year, I come out of the event with my head full of fascinating and promising information. Each year though, I also come out with the same regret: “Why is it that no one from the pharmacy community (University, Ordre, various organisations involved in pharmacy) is present at this conference? How can someone claim to be competent in NHPs and teach about NHPs and yet be absent at such events?”. Mr. Dionne concludes “These are bridges that must be built, bridges that can only help both the NHP industry and ultimately the health of consumers.”
The mission of the Natural Health Products Research Society (NHPRS) is to facilitate and support meaningful and scientifically rigorous research that will best enable the informed and appropriate use of natural health products that are safe, efficacious, and of high quality.
One of the key components of our mission includes, therefore, the delivery of continuing education in the science of NHPs. The NHPRS' volunteer board of directors has worked hard to earn its international reputation for developing high quality scientific educational programs for researchers, government regulatory agencies, NGOs and industry.
For more information, contact
Anoo Kartika Mammen
Natural Health Product Research Society of Canada
3700 Willingdon Avenue
Burnaby, British Columbia
Canada, V5G 3H2
or visit the website at http://commons.bcit.ca/nhpresearch/