Are Practitioner-Only Supplements Better Than Over-the-Counter? | Vital Pharmacy Supplies

There are myriad nutritional and herbal supplements available to purchase online, in supermarkets, chemists and health food stores, each of them claiming miraculous results. But how do you know which ones are more effective than others? Do you opt for practitioner-only supplements or over-the-counter?

It’s actually fairly simple to choose the right supplement, once you know what to look for.

When it comes to supplements, there are two types to choose from; over-the-counter and practitioner-only — here’s what you need to know about both.

What are practitioner-only products?

As the name suggests, practitioner-only products refer to natural supplements that are listed or registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, so that means they are not available to purchase over-the-counter.

They can only be supplied by qualified health practitioners — i.e. the customer must undergo a consultation from an accredited health professional (such as a pharmacist, naturopath, chiropractor, physiotherapist, nutritionist etc.) before purchasing.

The reason being, they are of a much higher quality, and often contain a more concentrated dosage, than over-the-counter medications.

Are they the same as medicine?

Practitioner-only products are not classed as ‘medicine’ as they do not require a prescription from a doctor. They just need to be dispensed by a qualified health practitioner. Medications display an AUST R number whereas vitamins and natural health products and supplements display an AUST L number.

What’s the difference between practitioner-only and over-the-counter products?

Practitioner-only products undergo rigorous quality assurance testing and clinical trials to ensure all the ingredients are both effective and safe. As a result, the quality of the ingredients is often much higher and much more effective. Practitioner-only products tend to be more expensive, but on the flip side, you’re guaranteed results. 

Over-the-counter products often only contain a small amount of active ingredient, present in its cheapest form, (the root instead of the leaf or flower, for example) and diluted with other ingredients, in order to keep costs down. Due to the chemical structure of many of these OTC products, the active ingredient and key nutrients within the supplements are therefore not absorbed and metabolised as efficiently by the body. This means the nutrients pass through our system without any medicinal effect, and essentially their consumption is wasted.

In fact, the active ingredients found in some OTC products have little to no effect whatsoever, so you’d need to consume excess amounts before you start to see any health benefits at all. All practitioner-only products on the other hand, have been specifically formulated to maximise their absorption and further promote the uptake of all key ingredients. In comparison, practitioner-only products require much smaller doses than cheaper OTC options, yet they are much more effective.

Are they really better?

By comparison, practitioner-only brands are a guarantee that you’re taking a regulated product, specifically formulated to enhance absorption and increase the effectiveness of the supplement. Supporting scientific evidence proves these supplements are effective, with higher quality ingredients and manufacturing standards.

The product varies based on each individual consumer's needs, however, this higher dosage and higher bioavailability of practitioner-only products means that they may end up being more effective on the consumer and better value for money than regular off-the-shelf vitamins. So basically, you know you will see positive results.

What practitioner-only brands should I look out for?

A consultation with your healthcare professional will help you to choose the most effective supplements to meet your medical needs, complemented with diet and lifestyle/advice to optimise your health outcomes.

Our pharmacists recommend BioCeuticals and Eagle as their go-to practitioner-only supplements. Here’s an overview of both:

BioCeuticals

As the first complementary medicine company to be accepted by Medicines Australia, BioCeuticals source the highest quality ingredients from specialist manufacturers, and regularly update their products based upon the latest clinical trials. Basically that means their products are always formulated based on the most up-to-date scientific evidence.

Their specialist formulations use individual ingredients to target specific deficiencies, and they’re practitioner certified so their products can only be sold by qualified health practitioners. This gives peace of mind that what you’re buying is most suited to you and your specific health issue.

Here are some of our top pharmacist picks:

ArmaForce

Used either alone or in combination with other herbs, andrographis has been shown to reduce duration and severity of upper respiratory infections such as those associated with the common cold or flu.

BioCeuticals ArmaForce clinically trialled range combines vitamin C, zinc and andrographis to boost the immune system and reduce the severity of symptoms of mild upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), including sore throat, headache, runny nose, cough, fatigue and restless sleep.

BioCeuticals ArmaForce 120 Tablets
BioCeuticals ArmaForce 120 Tablets

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BioCeuticals ArmaForce For Juniors 150g
BioCeuticals ArmaForce For Juniors 150g

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BioCeuticals ArmaForce Cough Relief 200mL
 BioCeuticals ArmaForce Cough Relief 200mL

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Ultra Muscleze Range

A high-dose magnesium powder that features UltraMag, a proprietary BioCeuticals blend of highly bioavailable magnesium chelates which enhances absorption and intestinal tolerance of magnesium. It's also packed with amino acids, B vitamins and other supportive nutrients to help relieve aching muscles, pains, cramps and spasms, and the symptomatic relief of pre-menstrual syndrome, including mood swings, fluid retention, bloating and breast tenderness.

BioCeuticals Ultra Muscleze Powder 360g
 BioCeuticals Ultra Muscleze Powder 360g

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BioCeuticals Ultra Muscleze P5P 120 Tablets
 BioCeuticals Ultra Muscleze P5P 120 Tablets

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Eagle

As Australia’s pioneering natural healthcare company, Eagle has worked in partnership with trusted health professionals for over 50 years, developing natural therapies to achieve optimum health, energy and happiness. Their innovative, high quality, and effective formulations are designed for repair and maintenance, boasting a combination of potent antioxidants and a wide range of herbal, vitamin, mineral and enzymatic remedies.

Sourcing only the best raw materials, backed up with world-class research and development, their supplements are scientifically proven to improve health and wellbeing, each targeting a range of specific health ailments with all the necessary tools to support your path to good health.

The Eagle Tresos range is their signature product range, containing a broad spectrum of vitamins, macro and trace minerals and amino acids, which aid in the maintenance of general wellbeing.

Eagle Tresos Natal 
 Eagle Tresos Natal 90 Tablets

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Eagle Tresos Activated B 
 Eagle Tresos Activated B PluSe 150 Tablets

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Eagle Tresos-B 50 Tablets      
 Eagle Tresos-B 50 Tablets

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Where can I buy practitioner-only products?

You can buy practitioner products behind-the-counter in most pharmacies. Ask your pharmacist for assistance. Before purchasing, the pharmacist will give you a consultation to ensure they recommend the best product for your condition or personal needs. You can also purchase with us online. One of our pharmacists will get in touch with you via email to carry out your consultation.

Loved our advice on practitioner-only supplements? We've got lots more health advice on our Health & Wellness Edit, guaranteed to give your body a well-deserved boost. Suffer with UTIs? Here are some helpful tips. Could you be making these common mistakes with pain killers?

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