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Gideon Koren
Dana Oren
Maud Rouleau
Daphna Carmeli
Doreen Matsui


Natural health products, verbal claims, pharmacy, natural health stores, pharmacists, garlic, calcium, magnesium, hypertension



This study tested the  hypothesis that while there are no  written  medical claims  existing for  many NHP,such claims are made verbally, giving a false impression that these are proven medical products.


To compare the number and type of verbal claims for NHP made by pharmacists to those made by health food stores personnel.


Randomly selected Canadian pharmacies selling NHP and health food stores  were visited and the staff was asked to recommend natural health products for the treatment of hypertension.


All health food stores (n=20) but only 4 out  of 38 pharmacies (p< 0.001) recommended NHP for the treatment  of  hypertension. A  majority of  health food  store staff (70%) stated that NHP are superior or equal to medicinal drugs in treating hypertension based on efficacy.


Unlike pharmacy practice, verbal claims are common practice  in  health food stores,  despite the  lack  of either written claims and/or proof of  efficacy for  most of them. These  may be a very  effective approach given that 30-40% of North  American adults are functionally  illiterate. These  verbal claims are  often  inappropriate and not evidence-based. 

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