Under siege: Canada’s Natural Health Products industry

Health rights and freedoms are disappearing. On February 4, 2013, Canadians will lose their right to purchase many herbs and vitamins. Possibly for good. It will be the law. UPLAR (Natural Health Products Unprocessed Product Licence Applications Regulations) was passed in 2010 in Canada. It comes due February 4, 2013. It gives Health Canada (Canada’s FDA) legal authority to pull ‘unlicensed’ herbs and vitamins off the shelves with jail time and monetary fines against the sellers. The problem is 80 percent of all herbs and vitamins have not received licensing. Tens of thousands of products are still awaiting the process, are in process or haven’t yet received responses. Health Canada doesn’t care.

This law shuts down the natural health care market in Canada. Ask yourself who benefits if the alternative health care industry is shut down? Whose medications are left on the shelves?

It’s time to take action. Contact http://naturalhealthfreedomcanada.com/ and find out what you can do about it.

Health Canada’s shrewd takeover of the natural health industry

Thank you Common Ground and Nick Mancuso [What is Health Canada Up To? by Nick Mancuso, August 2012] for taking up the challenge and writing and printing the truth behind Health Canada’s shrewd takeover of the natural health industry.

Under the guise of looking out for the ‘safety’ of Canadians, Health Canada has, in fact, shut down the freedom to choose for Canadian citizens by having exclusive power over product approval. The natural health products industry has risen above scepticism with legitimate research into some of the most innovative products worldwide, maintained growth through economic turmoil and provided answers and help when the medical model with its prescription drugs and/or surgery has failed the Canadian public.

Suppliers in this country are at their wits end trying to comply with the regulations and fees imposed by the government; products are required to be reformulated (often lacking key ingredients) and labels are changing at an alarming rate to accommodate the various claims and subsequent cautions that must be shown on the product. Has anybody died as a result of a natural health product? No. Never. There has never been a death attributed to a natural health product in this country. Statistically, you are more likely to have an anaphylactic reaction to nuts, shellfish and prescription drugs. Natural health products do not belong in the drug category and ought not be regulated nor treated as such.

As a retailer trying to offer the absolute best products for my customers, I must make this plea to all suppliers, fellow retailers and consumers: Please help us to unite in this awareness. The reality is we have been complying with this process for over seven years now and there is no logic to the manner in which Health Canada is accepting or rejecting natural product numbers (NPNs). The greatest farce is that ‘over the counter’ pharmaceuticals like Crest toothpaste, Tums, Rolaids, Nicorette gum and Covergirl makeup all carry an NPN. How ridiculous is that? Can these products even compare to the quality, ingredients, purity and wholesomeness of anything that is natural? How did we let this happen to our precious industry when we have worked so hard to prove our products are effective and safe for all people and most importantly, the sick?

The next threat to our livelihood is that the rules of this unfair game will continue to change based on random criteria. Currently, digestive enzymes and probiotics, the essences of life, are being scrutinized as to whether their NPNs ought to be revoked. How are we to stop this atrocity once it is happening because of unfounded reasons?

As I watch the flood of cautions now listed on the various products that traditionally have caused no harm, it saddens me that, despite my noblest efforts to explain the new requirements, I also watch the customer reading them and putting the bottle or box back on the shelf.

As wholistic people, we can and must come together and rise above the prevailing domination Health Canada has over our ability to manufacture, sell and ultimately choose natural health products. Please share your success story with supplements, reveal your hardships dealing with Health Canada and communicate what this issue means to you. By supporting your local health food store and their exclusive products, you may save the products that protect you and keep your body free of disease.

Know that there are changing rules and product seizures taking place that are unfounded and unlawful. Let your government know that you want to preserve your freedom to choose. Follow this magazine and Nick Mancuso’s PowerHealthRadio.com for up to date coverage of these issues as they unfold.

– Lucy Miller, owner, The Healthy Hut (Cochrane) Ltd., www.thehealthyhut.ca

Editors note: By forcing health products to have “warnings” on them, it normalizes the real warnings on some other products that can be dangerous, such as alcohol and tobacco and thus dilutes the importance of the message, playing into the hands of big corporations such as Big Pharma.

Health store owners afraid to speak out

As a stakeholder in the natural health industry, I am very disappointed with all the health food store owners who will not support their own industry by warning their customers that thousands of excellent natural products are under serious threat of being banned for sale by Health Canada.

One would think we suppliers would be heroes in their eyes for all the Health Canada land mines we have had to avoid just to keep some of these products on their shelves. Not so.

As an example, I am no longer welcome at one major health food store chain in Manitoba – for the capital crime of encouraging their customers, during a demo, to write the Health Minister and their MP to ask why their favourite natural health supplement was no longer available. I was told by the owners they do not want to become politically involved and that their health food store was not a venue to discuss this.

What, then, is the “proper venue”? Do consumers not have the right to know? Will the time to discuss this be after all the pharmaceutical corporations buy up the natural health industry bit by bit, denaturing the products, and the real health foods go the way of the dodo bird?

– Rose Stevens, Holistic Practitioner, Manitoba

Stop the clock from ticking
Delay the Feb 4, 2013 deadline for UPLAR

Health Canada having the final say on the food or medicine we choose is a step backwards for society, I believe.

I hear from health food store staff, owners and their customers they have no idea what is going on, which is very unfortunate. Unless people take action quickly to stop Health Canada in its tracks, I believe it will be a giant step backward for people in Canada. I know most of you reading this have no idea what is going on, and for those of you who do, you have received a very mixed message.

Without understanding the details, you will no longer have any say in your choice of medicine or food. What about your personal right to choose what goes in your body?

Will Canadians be healthier or safer if the only products available to them are ones that Health Canada has deemed acceptable? No offence, but this scares the crap out of me. (Ed. Note: It is not the health food industry that lobbies Health Canada the most. It is Big Pharma.)

It is as if we have only one company to buy from: ‘Health Canada Inc.’ Already, it has either ‘forced’ manufacturers of proven helpful products to change their products or removed them from shelves in Canada.

What to do? Other than freak out and get mad?

All I can think of is bury Health Canada, your local MP and Stephen Harper with letters. This old-fashioned method does get attention. Along with this, make a personal visit to your MP to make him/her aware of how you feel.

We apparently have one recourse as citizens: write letters in overwhelming numbers to government offices to delay the February 2013 Natural Health Products Unprocessed Product Licence Applications Regulations (UPLAR) deadline. We must speak to our MPs and make it very clear government has no role in deciding what we eat or use as medicine.

It may not end with this, but a delay is what is needed now. They are a persistent lot, I will give them that.

If they want regulations, the only one I see necessary to ensure public safety is manufacturing regulations. In Canada, we have one of the highest standards of manufacturing of natural health products in the world. As a consumer, I want to ensure the product is under acceptable levels of contamination and I want to see the list of ingredients in case I have a religious, health, personal or cultural preference. Period.

At press time, Health Canada is still deciding whether or not to enforce, in February of 2013, its regulations that would allow only products with an approved NPN # to be sold across Canada.

If so, as of February 2013:

Health Canada will control your personal choices about the food and medicine you put in your body.

Health Canada will demand every natural health product have an approved NPN licence to be sold in retail stores in Canada.

Health Canada will use enforcement to ensure retailers do not sell unapproved products. Selling an unapproved product could result in a $5-million fine or two years in jail.

Health Canada will be the only source for product approval. Health Canada alone will determine whether a product is safe or effective. No matter whether a product has been sold safely for decades or is easily available cross border or online, Health Canada can remove it from health food store shelves.

Canadian retailers will still be able to sell proven unsafe products like cigarettes, alcohol, peanuts, shellfish, junk food, artificial flavours, dyes and high sugar drinks without any concern over enforcement for selling these unsafe, unhealthy products.

Canadian doctors will still be prescribing proven harmful pharmaceutical drugs sold through Canadian pharmacies without any concern over enforcement even though those drugs do kill people.

Health Canada will control the food you eat and the medicine you use.

I believe Thomas Jefferson said it best: “If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson (1762-1821), Third president of the USA, author of the Declaration of Independence.

I find it very unfortunate so few Canadians know this is happening. Will we be the people that have unwittingly allowed Health Canada to take control of our food and medicine?

Mark February 4th, 2013 on your calendar and take control of your own health. To find out more about your eroding health freedom choices, visit http://www.powerhealthradio.com/natural_health_canada.html

– Deane Parkes, president of Preferred Nutrition, www.pno.ca

It’s time for a revolution in natural medicine
Will you take a stand?

It is an illusion that dietary supplements, herbs, homeopathic medicines are dangerous. The fact is they prevent illness, build up our immune systems and save lives. If you believe in these micronutrients and you know they work, why would you not stand up and protect them for our children?

We are very caring people, mostly women who work on the front lines in health stores across North America. We care deeply about our customers and patients.

Many of us make a meagre wage, but we give 100 percent to each person who comes through the door. This is the most rewarding work to help someone heal and recover to achieve a better quality of life. We should all be proud as an industry. None of us have ever hurt, maimed or killed any of our clients, unlike artificial drugs that have done so to millions of our loved ones.

Yet we stand by helplessly as our livelihoods and the products that keep Canadians healthy are being taken away. I feel our industry is going to have to go through a revolution and our goal must be to wake every Canadian up.

Most consumers are completely unaware of the travesty going on via a complete mass media blackout so we must educate them and empower the industry to realize we have solutions.

My dear friend and colleague Dr. Eldon Dahl ND has only served the people, by providing safe high potency, natural dietary supplements to other NDs across Canada, yet he may be serving two years in jail. Can you all sit by and let this happen? You know if we do not stop this injustice, you could be next. Trust me, this has been going on in the US for many years. Innocent people like you and I are in jail in the US for developing and selling proven, safe herbal or micro nutrients. If we allow *UPLAR to pass, we can say goodbye to our freedom about our health choices.

I believe in this industry. I believe in the dedicated people working with Natural Health Freedom Canada. These are some of the most courageous, fearless, strong and driven leaders, especially NHFC executive director Marilyn Nelson, who is one of the most altruistic intelligent and compassionate women I have ever known.

Natural Health Freedom Canada has the solutions and has been working for years to finally be at this place, to do the best work we have ever done to protect our rights and freedoms.

As a mother, healer and health freedom advocate, I beg you all to please stand with us, join our cause, your cause and support our legal injunction. Please value what we have put on the line for you all.

Donate now on Pay Pal. Get behind our legal injunction. Support our political/public campaign across Canada.

NHFC has the solutions. Get educated and empowered at www.natur alhealthfreedomcanada.com. If health freedom is important to you and your loved ones, support upcoming legal and public campaigns. Sign on to NHFC’s newsletter and blog. If you have questions or want to help, join the “Contact Us” page. Donations can be made via Pay Pal on the site or send cheques and money orders payable to: Natural Health Freedom Canada, 8931 78th Ave. Edmonton, Alberta, T6C 0N7.

– Candace Hill-Trevena, co-founder of Natural Health Freedom Canada. www.naturalhealthfreedomcanada.com

*Natural Health Products Unprocessed Product Licence Applications Regulations.

11 thoughts on “Under siege: Canada’s Natural Health Products industry”

  1. This is all very very sad. There is so much to say, and there are so many points to make, but it’s useless, because We will notebooks able to stop this. I wish the best for you and your friend, but Canada’s fait has been decided on this one. It’s a travesty, and An absolute shame. I’m sorry for all of us

  2. Hi,

    I have read all your articles on this NHP issue and encourage you to keep doing it. We need a voice. On that note, I see a new petition through avaaz.org uniting people on this front so i pasted it here to get it out to readership one day soon if you don’t already know about it?



      • This is only the first step in a series of issues we will have to face. Those of you that think Health Canada is there to protect you, you are seriously misguided. Just keep one thing in mind! It’s always good to have options, wheather it’s a lifestyle change or a challenging health issue you may have to face. What is being done is your right to choose is very stealthily being removed. Your choices are being limited, the cost of these supplements is artificially kept elevated through regulation that gives absolutely no benefit, when other products were exempt for PST, guess what they stayed exempt except for your supplements. And the kicker, drugs don’t have HST, yet they are being treated as such, so why are we paying HST? Natural supplements cannot be regulated, they have existed for thousands of years where drugs have been around for less then 100 years. Having Health Canada in charge of natural supplements is like having a drug pusher in charge of a drug rehab. Even if you don’t use supplements, you should stop this nonsense because it won’t stop here, they will load you up with GMO poison, tell you aspartame is safe and is food, and load you up with chemicals. Also note this regulation will affect natural sunscreen to toothpaste.

  3. This article is completely and deliberately misleading. Health Canada can take unlicensed products off the shelves. Just like they have been able to do since before when they were loosely regulated as drugs, and since 2004 since they had their own specific regulations. UPLAR didn’t change that, it was just an accelerated route to market while HC worked through the backlog. All along the government has been working very closely with industry to help the industry.

    And on the click-through, no 20,000 products removed, not swat teams, nothing. They act like the government doesn’t have a role in protecting Canadians, but then when something adulterated comes up they are the first to shout out, “where was the government?!”

    The regulations basically do 2 things. First they make sure that manufactures and importers know what they are doing. Organized paperwork, clean manufacturing lines, quality control, ensure they have the ingredient they ordered. Second, they make sure that the products fully and accurately label what is in the bottle, and that the health claim on the bottle is justified (and even on that NHPD has allowed more options for support than anyone had previously).

    Example: prior to the NHP Regulations, there was nothing stopping someone from extracting all the ginsanosides from ginseng, and sell that as one product, then sell all the now-non-active ginseng as another. Customers were able to be ripped off all over the place. One year there was more goldenseal sold in North America than was harvested world-wide.

    So, sure most manufacturers were honest, but, unfortunately, not all. And those who were honest are behind the regs (in general) and see it as supportive for the industry overall.

    So, short answer, people like this can write whatever they want … it doesn’t have to be accurate to get published.

    • Dear Tricia,
      Actually, what you have written is completely and deliberately misleading. Please tell us how it is that you know to 100% certainty that there haven’t been as many products removed or that there have not been guns drawn raids on producers of safe natural health products? There are several cases of such raids before the courts right now that you are either unaware of, or, you are aware of but are somehow motivated to try and convince people that it’s all just a fabrication. It’s not. We know the people involved and there are many of them. Do you get paid to write such rhetoric in response to letters and articles? By the way, the piece that you commented on is a LETTER of opinion from someone in the industry. It’s not an ARTICLE.

      Here’s some information for uninformed folks on the subject, written by a group of people in the industry who have many years of experience with this corruption:

      “Health Canada (HC) is propagating a falsehood to the MPs and the Canadian public, and I need your help to stop them from removing access to any more Natural Health Products (NHPs). HC is poised for a campaign to tell Canadians that if an NHP does not have its Natural Product Number (NPN) then it is not safe or effective, and nothing could be further from the truth. Meanwhile, HC has announced to industry that they will be retracting NPNs after full enforcement of the NHP Regulations begins in 2013. Once started, where will this process end?

      HC keeps getting the MPs to believe that they take a risk-based approach to regulating NHPs, but this is simply not true. I can go into any drugstore and buy more than enough Tylenol to quickly cause liver failure, or ASA to cause my intestines to bleed, or kill myself with alcohol purchased from my corner liquor store, or cigarettes from the gas station. These are known killers, and no one disputes it. Yet NHPs used to increase health are being removed, when they are on record for killing ZERO Canadians ever. This completely defies logic…doesn’t it?

      As Dr. Brill-Edwards, a former senior physician supervisor in charge of drug approval at Health Canada said regarding their approval process:

      “There is no question that what is going on at Health Canada does not really protect citizens. The provisions that have just come into place are paper processes. No one, for example, at Health Canada is analyzing the product that is actually in the bottle so you have no assurances as a citizen that what you are seeing on the label is actually what is in the bottle. Now if Health Canada were really rigorous that’s what they would be doing. They would be taking those kinds of safety measures. But in essence they’re putting in a paper process that will push the small people out of the market place and leave it open for the larger pharmaceutical firms who will then come in and try to tell us that the product are now safer. They won’t be safer because there’s no real scrutiny about the quality of the product and the information about the product.”

      Adequate labeling, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), and ingredient testing for purity and potency, which Canadian manufacturers perform for each product, have made Canadian NHPs the safest in the world. Yet, HC has failed approximately 30,000 NHP license applications strictly from behind a desk, while performing no testing whatsoever. Their verdicts have nothing to do with whether a product is actually safe, but simply whether the application itself passed in the subjective opinion of the HC reviewer. The only testing the agency seems to do is on products manufactured in China…not Canada. Of course these are often polluted, which reinforces doubt in consumers, and helps justify eliminating so many high-quality domestic NHPs.

      HC claims to have approved over 50,000 products, but they artificially inflate this total by repeatedly counting the exact same product each time it is sold under a different label. (In this way, the same product may be counted 50 or more times.) What is shocking is how few products they have licensed, (under 40,000), when we started with 70,000+ in 2004. Ask yourself: was it really Parliament’s intention to eliminate 40% of Canadian’s NHP choices?

      Why is this happening? Because in 2004, HC ignored Parliament’s multi-year process that taxpayers funded. They ignored the Standing Committee on Health, and instead of giving NHPs their own unique third category, as instructed, they placed them as a subclass of “Drugs”, and applied standards that they knew thousands of non-patentable NHPs would never be able to meet. Meanwhile, HC has given NPNs to hundreds of pharmacy items such as nicotine patches, Ex-Lax, and TUMS.

      If the Canadian products in question are so dangerous why has HC allowed their sale for multiple years while they are waiting for their applications to be processed? Some have been sold ever since the NHP Regulations started in 2004. This is because they are not dangerous. If a natural ingredient is actually dangerous, it is taken off the market immediately, and listed either on the Prohibited Substances in the Food and Drug Regulations, or the Restricted Substances not in the Food and Drug Regulations. With zero Canadian deaths, how much safer can NHPs get? Indeed, relatively speaking they are extremely safe. And as for efficacy, if people are buying them after eight years, they’ve obviously worked well enough to survive market pressures.

      With NHPs classed as “Drugs”, HC is unfairly censoring Canadians actions. Why? Because the definition of a “Drug is based on what a substance is used for, NOT what it is. This is why as soon as healthy food ingredients like ginger or parsley are put into capsules, they magically become “Drugs”. It could be sawdust, but if you swallowed it to modify a physical function, then it’s a “Drug”. It is forced to make a claim, and then to prove it. In this way the pharmaceutical industry, in an insidious partnership with HC, maintains a stranglehold of control over our healthcare. HC regulates our actions, while pretending to protect us from substances that have been used for millennia. The real issue is money and control, not the safety.”

      But then again, many of you already know this?

  4. My very strong suspicion is that this is all motivated by the pharmaceutical industry protecting their own turf. Who are the advisers to Health Canada, often for no pay on a volunteer basis? Who allows over medication of all of our meat sources? Who has mainly the interests of the wrong players at the forefront? Health Canada who really have citizens interests at the bottom of the list. Crap and corruption is so evident!

  5. We All need to speak up about our rights to chose what we need and want for our own healthcare!! Many of us cannot tolerate pharmaceuticals due to severe reactions and sensitivities!! It is already unbearable that we have had Smart Meters forced on us, compromising our health!! Now, what we need to build our immune systems and counter the ever-increasing toxic environments the government chooses for us, they are taking away our only defense!!!

  6. This is an outrageous infringement on our right to chose what we need for ourown healthcare!! There are many of us who cannot and will not take Pharmaceuticals due to severe reactions!! Why are we losing our democratic rights to free choice? We must all speak up or lose access to what we need for our own health!!

    • I agree that we are overregulated, and I question whether the Canadian government is actually working in the best interest of its citizens. However, my degree is in Behavioural Neuroscience and I can’t get out of my mind the Body Shop instance. Essentially, the Body Shop wanted to come up with a cool blue shampoo. While the body shop doesn’t do any animal testing themselves, all the products they buy have been tested on animals. No body care product would be allowed to go to market without animal testing, thats just the reality of our world. The Body Shop can claim THEY don’t test on animals. But every single ingredient they purchase and use has been tested on animals. Anyhow back to the story, the Body Shop wanted to make a blue shampoo. They put together a brew of products available to them, and wanted to release the result ASAP. The Canadian government told them before it can go to market, it had to be tested on animals. So the Body Shop shaved patches on 50 rats and applied the new shampoo, thinking it would be fine as all the ingredients had no effects. When they came back to check the next day, all 50 rats were dead.

      I know there are alot of herbal/organic/natural remedies out there, but I am glad my government is protecting me from them in the first instance. I don’t have a problem with people touting natural cures having to go through testing. The Body Shop tale is a true story.


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