Fermented foods used to be a mainstay in the Middle East. Today, as processed foods hold sway, interest is rising in probiotic suplements.
Natural health product (NHPs) usage was surveyed by researchers in the pharmacy department at Kuwait University. A sample of 1300 answered a questionnaire regarding “vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicines, traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicines, probiotics, and other products like amino acids and essential fatty acids.”
Astonishingly, 90% responded, a fantastic number in any research.
Results in a nutshell:
- 71% of respondents used NHPs, mostly associated with females.
- Reasons for using: promote health and prevent illness and build the immune system.
- About 75% thought the Ministry in Health in Kuwait should regulate claims and most were open to more information.
The complete article which appears online in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine cites important data regarding CAM usage. Prevalence of use varies across the Middle East from 7% to 90%. Other countries from Australia to the United States have high usage.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has encouraged countries to establish policies and regulations because of the growing use. Kuwait has some regulations in place since 1989. Manufacture and safety assessments are mandated as for conventional medicine.
While vitamins and herbs were most consumed, probiotics were one of the least cited categories. Only 102 or about 9% used probiotics and these users had higher income as well as more education than others in the study.
The mean age was 40 and about 1/3 had chronic disease including hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and several others.
Where did they buy? Pharmacy, health products store, supermarkets and family members in that order.
How did they know what to buy? Family members, friends and mass media were most mentioned. Interestingly, less common sources were pharmacists, doctors, dietitians and nurses.
Probiotics have a way to go and education will be crucial in reaching the Kuwaiti population.