What are Practitioner Only Supplements?

Naturopathic Medicine

Most people take some type of supplement on a daily basis — some of their own volition, others following the advice of a naturopath. However, for health, safety and economic reasons, it’s best to follow a supplementation program prescribed and administered by a qualified naturopath rather than taking the advice of someone you happen to stumble across during an internet search.

When looking to purchase supplements, there are dozens of supplement manufacturers vying for your business. This makes it difficult to ascertain which product will best meet the needs of your body. It’s surprising the number of people who use the lowest price as the determining factor when choosing a brand of supplements, when a low price point may, in fact, mean substandard product … leading to substandard results.

Although not a hard and fast rule, price is often an indicator of quality. There are ENORMOUS variations in the types and quality of supplements that can be purchased over the counter. Let’s look at common issues that may influence the quality, efficacy and safety of herbs and supplements.

Herb or nutrient levels are not in therapeutic range

The therapeutic window or range is the dosage that can effectively treat an illness or disease without any toxic effects.

Patients often experience less than desired results from cheaper brands of herbal remedies and supplements because they frequently contain herbal or nutrient levels that fall below the therapeutic range to achieve the desired therapeutic effect.

Insufficient or poor bioavailability

Bioavailability refers to the rate at which a supplement is absorbed into your body’s circulatory system, thereby, making it available for use by your body.

Vitamins and minerals can be obtained from various sources, both natural and synthetic (man-made).  Each form of the nutrient has unique properties and absorption rates which affect its bioavailability. Unfortunately, doctors and pharmacists often recommend the wrong form of nutrients for the best bioavailability.

To better understand this, let’s look at calcium supplements. The least expensive types of calcium supplements (Tums, Rolaids and Caltrate) are made using calcium carbonate. Because of its poor absorption rates (poor bioavailability), calcium carbonate often leads to constipation and gas. Calcium supplements using calcium citrate (Citrical and Solgar) are more expensive; however, they have better bioavailability because they are much more easily absorbed by the body.

To make matters even worse, common sources of calcium carbonate — coral and oyster shells — may contain lead.


Adulteration is the practice of substituting the wrong plant parts (such as fruit instead of leaf), using incorrect species or substituting similar looking substances that are inferior, defective, useless and even harmful — in other words, using ingredients that have less than the intended therapeutic properties.

Although adulteration can occur due to ignorance or carelessness, it is often intentional. Many dishonest herb and supplement suppliers manufacture cheaper products through adulteration. Without comprehensive testing (which costs money), herb and supplement companies cannot ensure that the desired herb or herb part is used and that the active constituent levels are within range. Unbeknownst to them, their suppliers have passed on a product that has little to no therapeutic value which they then pass on to their consumers — you.

In a bid to be the lowest price, many over the counter herbal supplements have not been tested to ensure quality, efficacy or safety.

Excipients and compression

Excipients are substances used to stabilise a tablet and enable it to stick together. Excipients may also include colouring agents, fillers and preservatives. Some excipients contain typical allergens such as wheat, lactose or gluten. Others impair absorption of therapeutic agents.

Capsule compression may be an issue, as well. Slippery elm capsules, for instance, can be too compressed, preventing expansion which causes the therapeutic agent to pass through the intestine as a small pellet with little to no therapeutic benefit.


Oxidation leads to the degradation of certain supplements. Many nutrients, especially oils, are highly susceptible to oxidation and are unstable in supplement form. Two nutrients, in particular, coenzyme Q10 and vitamin D, do not last very well in capsule form unless manufactured specifically to overcome these limitations.

Fish oil capsules are another. There are huge price variances among fish oil products making it difficult to determine how to obtain value at a reasonable price.

Compare the following scenario to the purchase of your supplements. If you were in the market for a car and had to choose between one for $500 or one for $5000, which one would you buy? Would the cheaper one give you pause, making you wonder what was wrong with it?

The same could be said for fish oil capsules and all supplements in general. Cheaper prices often come at a cost — less quality, reduced therapeutic efficacy and marginal safety practices. Poor manufacturing processes may also lead to oxidation of the supplement causing reduced therapeutic benefits.

Practitioner only supplements versus over the counter

A qualified Brisbane naturopath at our clinic partners with you to discover the root issues of your disease and formulates a treatment plan using herbal medicines and nutritional supplements that will assist your body in healing itself.

To effectively accomplish this, we must obtain a reliable and effective clinical result every single time we formulate and prescribe a supplement program. This can only be accomplished using the best supplements on the market.

We trust practitioner only supplements to give us these results. Practitioner only supplements are manufactured by companies that are the best of the best — companies that have stringent quality testing built into their processes, ensuring the quality, efficacy and safety of the supplements we prescribe.

Next time you pick up a supplement bottle, ask yourself, “Do I know if what it says on the label is actually in the bottle?” How many companies hide behind the practice of using the term “proprietary blend” on their labels? Manufacturers hide behind the term, so they don’t have to reveal so-called ”secret” ingredients or formulas. They are not required to divulge what is in the bottle or the quantity of each of the “secret” ingredients.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of why the prices of supplements can vary so greatly. Perhaps you also understand now why an over the counter supplement did not have the desired effect you were seeking.

With practitioner only supplements, the guesswork has been removed. Rigorous quality testing ensures that the supplement your Brisbane naturopath has prescribed will have the required ingredients to produce the desired therapeutic benefit. It’s important to us to make sure you’re getting the best quality supplement so you will receive the best results possible.