Complementary Medicine and Therapeutic Goods Regulation

Complementary and Alternative Medicine is quite difficult to fully define. This is because it is forever changing and evolving as a practice and series of health practices and strategies that are outside of the normal or prevailing western or mainstream allopathic medical model. While the boundaries between complementary and allopathic medicine are not fixed and demarcated, there has been a traditional division between the two.

However in recent years, aspects of complementary medicine have become more widely accepted in allopathic circles. (e.g acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, use of dietary supplements, massage etc.)

Government Report on Natural Health

In 2010-2011 the Department of Health and Ageing commissioned a report on Therapeutic Goods Regulation: Complementary Medicine. The report was undertaken in order to examine the effectiveness of the TGA’s overall administration of regulations relating to complementary medicines in Australia.[1]


Did you know that approximately 66% of Australia’s population now use some form of complementary or alternative medicine? This indicates the mainstreaming of alternative natural remedies and natural products, and symbolises a major crossover between allopathic and complementary medicine nationally. The shift has been gradual and important, with over 10,000 complementary medicine products now reaching Australian consumers. Sales for 2010 reached the $1.2 billion mark with a 10-12% market growth occurring annually.[2]

The report also seeks to regulate compliance with regard to labelling and advertising of complementary medicine products. This is an important step forward, given the popularity of these medicines in 2011 Australia. The Australian National Audit Association has also “recommended the development of a standard operating procedure that specifies timeframes for completing investigations of advertising breaches.” And this is also welcomed by many a natural health practitioner who has long been calling for optimised regulation of the industry as a means to benefit both complementary medicine professionals/service providers and patients.

Sourcing Quality Natural Remedies

One of the best ways for sourcing quality products is by asking a practitioner. Dana Kington, from A Natural Self Clinic says that “many people need to get that expert advice about complementary medicines so they can benefit most fully. There is no point in purchasing products that may be unnecessary or unsuitable.”  She also suggests purchasing online as an option and states there are many naturopaths who can help by way of appointment, skype appointments or even email or mobile phone.

There is no doubt the complementary medicine industry in Australia has come of age. With over 60% of the Australian population now using these medicines, the tides are turning and there is a well overdue fusion of complementary and allopathic solutions now being used.