Food or Medicine? How Do You Know if a Complementary Medicine is Safe?

Author: Shelley Bennetts   Date Posted:1 March 2019 

In the past 20 years the health benefits of turmeric, and its active ingredient, curcumin, have become well known. Some products, like turmeric, are both food and medicine. Turmeric is considered a food in its raw or powdered form. However, if the active ingredients are extracted, concentrated and marketed in a liquid or tablet form, claiming that it can be used to relieve the symptoms of inflammation, then it is considered a medicine. But how do you know if a complementary medicine is safe and will live up to the claims made?


The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is a part of the Australian Government Department of Health. The TGA regulates the supply, import and export, manufacturing and advertising of ‘therapeutic’ products.

Look for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) assurance codes on any therapeutic products you purchase to be sure that they meet Australian standards. The work of the TGA is to protect the population from dodgy claims and ineffective or dangerous products. It came into being in Australia in 1961 after the drug Thalidomide caused terrible effects on unborn babies.


Therapeutic Goods Administration Aust L Numbers

Lower risk medicines, such as the PFE Turmeric Plus Oral Liquid supplement, have an Aust L number on the label. You can check out the TGA complementary medicines guidelines here. The Aust L or Aust R (for high risk drugs) number on your medicine package shows that the TGA has evaluated the product and it is on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.


Listed products have been through rigorous TGA assessments. You can be sure that they have been produced safely and are marketed honestly. It also ensures absolute transparency and gives consumers peace of mind that standards have been met.


The TGA employs doctors, scientists, biomedical engineers and other specialists to read, analyse, question and evaluate pages and pages of documentation before approving a product. By world standards, Australia’s therapeutic goods meet high quality and safety standards.


Look for the Aust L code on any ‘therapeutic’ products you purchase to be sure that they meet Australian standards.