Review Update: Natural Medicines
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Jim Bulger, MLIS
Manager, Library Services
Allina Health
Minneapolis, MN

Content

Natural Medicines is an authoritative, evidence-based resource on dietary supplements, natural medicines, and complementary alternative and integrative therapies. It is produced by the Therapeutic Research Center (TRC), which acquired Natural Standard in 2013, combining content from the two previously separate and well-regarded resources.

Natural Medicines reviews an extensive and well-researched list of natural and complementary products and therapies. The website includes multiple databases and interactive features, including drug-supplement interaction data, comparative effectiveness charts, and the unique and helpful Natural Medicines Brand Evidence-based Ratings (NMBER®) system, which assigned evidence-based ratings to multi-ingredient, commercially available products based on safety, effectiveness, and overall quality. The Natural Medicines website can be accessed at: https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/.

This updated review highlights changes and additions to Natural Medicines since my original review was published in March 2016: http://dcdm.doody.com/2016/03/a-review-of-natural-medicines/.

New Features

To my knowledge, no new features have been added to Natural Medicines in the past two years, as the existing features are tried and true. Rather, the focus has been on adding new content and continually updating monographs as new evidence is published. On a daily basis, the editorial team uses a variety of mechanisms to look for new data, which is then critically assessed and added to the database if relevant.

New Content

In the past couple of years, 24 totally new monographs have been added, 22 on food, herbs, or supplements, and two on health and wellness.

Additionally, reviews of over 80,000 commercial products have been done. These include dietary supplements, herbals, nutritional products, “medical foods,” traditional Chinese combinations, and more.

The CE/CME Center has updated 24 continuing education modules for re-accreditation.

Over 40 Monograph Classification “charts” have been added. These allow the user to choose from a list of classifications to see all monographs in the selected category. Examples of classifications include: diuretics, amino acids, or probiotics. Other additions to “charts” include these miscellaneous special charts:

  • Comparison of Common Commercial Probiotic Products
  • Drug-Supplement Interactions
  • Magnesium-Rich Common Foods
  • Protein Content of Common Foods

Finally, on an ongoing basis, news articles have been regularly published in the News section, along with monthly email newsletters. The newsletter was recently redeveloped and reformatted. It covers news and events on herbs, supplements, exercise, nutrition, and complementary and alternative medicine modalities, practices, and policy.

Breakthrough

Natural Medicines remains one of the most, if not the most, authoritative and comprehensive resources for reliable, unbiased information evaluating complementary and alternative products and therapies.

Needs Improvement

One notable shortcoming that remains is the lack of responsive design for use on a mobile device. However, there is an app available for iOS and Android devices. The user must register for a login ID through their institutional access, then download the app. Natural Medicines also has a free app for a consumer version of the database. Unfortunately, these options are not clearly spelled out on the Natural Medicines website.

Users Like

  • Easy to search.
  • Standardized format of monographs, with sidebar to quickly jump to particular section(s) (e.g., dosing and administration, or interactions).
  • Extensive reference lists, with links to PubMed abstracts.
  • Exhaustive list of commercial product reviews.
  • Interaction and effectiveness “checkers,” enabling quick comparison of different interventions.
  • Natural MedWatch, an international service that allows users to report an adverse event or side effect related to a natural medicine, which is then reported to the appropriate regulatory agency, such as the Food and Drug Administration.
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