The term nutraceutical comes from a combination of the words nutrition and pharmaceutical. It refers to a broad variety of products ranging from dietary supplements to foods that provide medical or health benefits. The term was invented by Dr. Stephen DeFelice, the founder, and chairman of the Foundation of Innovation Medicine. Unlike prescription medications, nutraceutical supplements are generally not regulated by the United States Government.
Nutraceuticals can be broken down into several different categories. These include:
- Dietary supplements
- Functional foods
- Medicinal foods
Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, carnitine, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort, and others. Functional foods are foods such as oats, bran, prebiotics, omega-3 milk, canola oil, and others. Medicinal foods include health bars with additional medication, trangenic cows and loctoferrin for immune system enhancement, and transgenic plants for vaccination against certain diseases.
The Foundation for Innovative Medicine
The Foundation for Innovative Medicine was founded by Dr. Stephen DeFelice in 1976. It is a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to advance medical discovery through more effective clinical research. The Foundation for Innovative Medicine also invented the term nutraceutical in 1989. The term has since been added to the Oxford English Dictionary and the Webster Collegiate Dictionary.
In 1996 the Foundation for Innovative Medicine hosted a conference on the need for more and better clinical research to be done on the health benefits of nutraceutical supplements. Dr. DeFelice also worked with New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone to introduce the Nutraceutical Research and Education Act to Congress in 1999.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the difference between a nutraceutical and a dietary supplement?
A: A dietary supplement is a product that is intended to supplement a diet, contains at least one dietary ingredient, and is designed to be taken orally. An example of this is a daily multivitamin. Nutraceuticals, however, are designed to more than just supplement your diet. They are also meant to aid in the treatment and prevention of disease.
Q: What has caused the rapid rise of nutraceuticals as an alternative route for disease treatment and prevention.
A: Many patients have grown dissatisfied with rising drug costs and turned to natural products for treatment and prevention. Reasons for this include a new public focus on preventative medicine, a desire for more personalized medicines, and a need to treat chronic diseases with less alternatives in conventional medicine.
Q: What nutraceutical supplements should I be taking to stay healthy?
A: Like any nutritional or pharmaceutical substance, the specific amounts each person needs will depend on their body and level of health. The best way to accurately and safely assess your nutraceutical supplement needs is to work with a trained professional such as Dr. Rahbar.
Contact a Los Angeles Gastroenterologist
Want to learn more about what nutraceutical supplements can do to help you prevent and treat disease? Farshid Sam Rahbar, MD, FACP, is an expert at helping patients find the right supplements to treat their conditions the natural way. Contact our office by email or call us at (310) 289-8000 to set up a consultation and get started on a healthier life.
Next, read about Diets.