How will 2014 be remembered? Continued failures in the healthcare system and drug industry, combined with a new understanding of what “health promotion” actually means, has led to the inevitable: an immense amount of interest in dietary interventions from mainstream medicine, along with reams of new research.
The result? The industry trends of 2014 could set the tone for years into the foreseeable future:
1. Integrative medicine is key for the future of public health. Even the most ardent supporters of “evidence-based medicine” who reject anything but thousand-subject randomized controlled trials agree that our healthcare system is in critical need of effective preventive intervention methods that are made available well before drugs need to be prescribed. A number of new developments in preventive care have emerged, including dietary coaching, telemedicine, and, yes, dietary supplements—like omega-3s and curcumin—as part of the daily regimens recommended by an increasing number of M.D.s.
2. Clinical trials on natural products is ramping up—with no end in sight. Medline shows more than 1,000 human studies published in 2014 alone on vitamins, minerals, botanical extracts, fruits, vegetables, omega-3s, curcumin, and other potent natural products. Curcumin alone has been subject to more than 1,000 studies in 2014, the subject of a remarkable amount of research interest that may be unprecedented.
3. Quality standards are improving, but work remains. FDA GMP inspection violations on supplement firms are decreasing in total, but continue to list a lack of the basics like product specifications and manufacturing procedures as the main weaknesses. To grow at the pace we are currently on and enjoy mainstream recognition and success, it's necessary for everyone to do their best to meet the basic requirements of GMP.
4. Innovation is primed to continue. Scientists, physicians, and funding sources worldwide are joining the movement in large numbers. It is up to the industry to continue to provide the best possible forms of dietary ingredients to fulfill the promise before us.