Nutraceutical, a term combining the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”, is a food or food product that provides health and medicinal benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease.

Hippocrates, considered by some to be the father of Western medicine, said that people should “Let food be thy medicine.”

Nutraceuticals are derived from plant, food, and microbial sources and provide medicinal benefits valuable to long-term health. Examples of Nutraceutical chemicals include probiotics, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. This industry has grown alongside the expansion and exploration of modern technology.

The Nutraceutical industry is currently made up of biochemists, nutritionists, pharmacologists, cardiologists, general practitioners, gerontologists, and dietitians along with research and development personnel, executives in the food and drug industries, marketers, and lawyers.

Dr. Stephen L. DeFelice, M.D., who defined the term Nutraceutical, founder and chairman of the Foundation of Innovation Medicine (FIM), stated that “Within the next two decades, the Nutraceutical Market will approach the size of the ethical pharmaceutical market.”

More than 40% of Americans use alternative medical therapies with Nutraceuticals making up a significant proportion. The Global Nutraceuticals product market reached $142.1 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach $204.8 billion by 2017. In the US the Nutraceutical industry is about $86 billion which retain 37% market share. This figure is slightly higher in Europe and in Japan where 47% of the Japanese population consumes Nutraceuticals.

Public health authorities consider prevention and treatment with Nutraceuticals as a powerful instrument in maintaining health and to act against nutritionally induced acute and chronic diseases, thereby promoting optimal health, longevity, and quality of life. There is an abundance of case histories of Nutraceuticals in the medical treatment of hypertension, diabetes, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and other ailments. Additionally current U.S. regulations make it economically feasible to conduct preclinical and clinical studies to substantiate medical claims. With recent breakthroughs in cellular-level Nutraceutical agents, researchers and medical practitioners are developing templates for integrating and assessing information from clinical studies on complementary and alternative therapies into responsible medical practice. Nutraceuticals’ ongoing research lead to a new generation of products, which cause the interface between food and drug to become increasingly permeable. Doubtlessly, many of these products possess pertinent physiological functions and valuable biological activities.

As this industry continues to grow, far more research into the efficacy of Nutraceuticals has been conducted in recent years and Nutraceuticals have become a recognized and respected aspect of mainstream health and wellness practices.

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