Nutritional Therapy: A general term for the use of foods to cleanse the body and to promote health (“go” foods). Nutritional therapy addresses three broad categories of disease: allergies, toxic overload and nutritional deficiency, and is an adjunct to naturopathy, homeopathy and other forms of alternative healthcare. Nutritionists who adhere to the alternative philosophy of diet generally believe there are certain foods and dietary exposures that should be minimized if not eliminated in their entirety (“no” foods).
Functional Food: A natural or processed food that contains known biologically active compounds which, when in defined quantitative and qualitative amounts, provides a clinically proven health benefit, and thus is useful in preventing, managing and treating chronic diseases.
nu•tra•ceu•ti•cal (n tr -s t -k l) n.
A food or naturally occurring food supplement thought to have a beneficial effect on human health.
nutraceutical Any food or part thereof with medicinal or health benefits, which includes vitamins and herbal products.
nutraceutical (nōōˈ•tr •sōōˑ•ti•k l),
n any food supplement that has health benefits in addition to its nutritive value. Also called
botanical supplement, ergogenic aid, functional food, herbal, medical food, or nutriceutical.
a nutrient with drug-like properties but not legally recognized as a therapeutic agent.
use of macronutrients, micronutrients and nutritional supplements as therapeutic agents.
A chemical substance or group of substances that for legal purposes is defined as a nutrient but that is in fact marketed and used for the prevention or treatment of disease.
[nutr-ient + pharm-aceutical]
Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, botanicals (herbal medicines), and certain components or derivatives of animal foods (organ and glandular tissues) were classified as dietary supplements by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. This federal law exempts these drug entities from the safety and efficacy requirements and regulations that manufacturers and marketers of prescription and over-the-counter drugs must observe (for example, preclinical animal studies, premarketing controlled clinical trials, postmarketing surveillance). A product label may make health claims provided that it also bears a disclaimer stating that the product is not sold for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, or cure of any disease.
For many nutraceuticals, little or no experimental information is available as to efficacy, side-effects, and drug interactions. Because these medicines cannot be patented, pharmaceutical manufacturers have little incentive to c conduct research on their properties, beneficial or harmful. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must show that a nutraceutical is unsafe before it can be removed from the market. But because federal legislation provides no mechanism for the observation or mandatory reporting of adverse events such as hypersensitivity, hepatic or renal toxicity, suppression of bone marrow, fetal harm, or drug interactions, nutraceuticals are largely secure from federal ban.
No federal agency maintains oversight or control of the potency or purity of herbal products. Random studies suggest that these products vary widely in potency (sometimes containing none at all of the labeled ingredient) and may often be adulterated with other agents or contaminated with pesticides. Surveys show that 10-30% of the U.S. population use herbal remedies at least occasionally, but that more than 50% of these fail to disclose such use during routine medical history-taking (for example, before surgery).
More than 50% of amateur and professional athletes and bodybuilders use stimulants, protein supplements, and hormones. Among the more popular herbals are echinacea, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St. John’s wort, and valerian. Widely used agents not derived from botanical sources include androstenedione, creatinine, DHEA, glucosamine, melatonin, pregnenolone, minerals (for example, chromium, manganese, zinc), and vitamins. Virtually all these have significant potential for adverse side-effects or harmful interaction with other drugs.