Natural Medicines Brand Evidence-based Rating (NMBER)

The most common questions asked about natural medicines are, "Is it safe?" and "Does it work?"

The Natural Medicines Brand Evidence-based Rating or "NMBER" in Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database helps answer these questions. NMBER provides an objective, scientific rating for over 90,000 commercially available natural medicines and dietary supplement products. Each product is rated 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

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How the NMBER is determined - Overview

Each product is rated based solely on scientific evidence. Each rating has three components: Safety, Effectiveness, and Product Quality.

There are over 1,100 natural medicine ingredients used to formulate over 90,000 commercially available natural medicines and dietary supplements. The NMBER system objectively analyzes each of the ingredients in these products to determine the overall product rating.

The first step in this process was an in-depth, systematic appraisal and evaluation of all of the scientific evidence on over 1,100 natural medicine ingredients. A large team of experts, researchers, and health professionals has reviewed over 89,000 clinical trials and other studies. Each study is critically evaluated to determine the reliability and validity of the research based on rigorous evidence-based principles. This process continues on a daily basis to identify and evaluate the newly developing evidence.

Based on the relevance, validity, and consistency of research, an evidence-based Safety Rating and Effectiveness Rating is assigned to every natural medicine ingredient. These ratings are then analyzed for each ingredient contained in a commercially available product to calculate an objective rating.

Some specific commercially available products containing a unique combination of ingredients have been studied in clinical trials. We call these products Clinically Studied Brands. The Clinically Studied Brands get a unique Effectiveness Rating based on the evidence specific to that product.

Product quality is another important aspect calculated in the rating. A significant contributor to the product quality assessment comes from the U.S. Pharmacopeia's USP Verified Mark. Through an exclusive collaboration, U.S. Pharmacopeia provides the editors with data on products achieving the USP Verified Mark. This process takes into account several quality factors to ensure that each USP Verified product:

In addition the editors assess other product quality data such as reports and warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada Natural Health Products Directorate, United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and other international regulatory agencies.

How the NMBER is determined - Criteria

NMBER combines the evidence-based Safety Ratings and Effectiveness Ratings of individual ingredients, plus product quality data, to determine the overall product rating.

Safety is always our first concern. Therefore Safety Ratings are weighted more heavily than other criteria. A product that contains one or more ingredients with a poor Safety Rating can never earn a high overall rating.

The highest rated commercially available products contain ingredients that have reliable clinical evidence showing safety and effectiveness for treatment or prevention of a specific condition. They have also demonstrated high product quality.

Lower rated commercially available products contain ingredients with insufficient or inconsistent safety or effectiveness data. The lowest rated commercially available products have potential safety concerns and/or documented product quality problems.

How to suggest a change in the NMBER

Creating these objective, evidence-based ratings has taken thousands of hours of evaluation. The ratings are constantly being re-assessed and updated based on the latest scientific data. Despite the objective, scientific approach used by NMBER, the editors recognize that different interpretations of scientific data may result in different opinions about how some products should be rated. Some people may feel that a particular product deserves a higher or lower rating. Therefore, we invite you to contact the editors if you have scientific data that suggests that a rating should be changed. Before submitting this data, it is important for you to know:

  1. Our staff is entirely unbiased and base ratings entirely on scientific evidence.
  2. We do not accept any money or any form of compensation from any company or any organization related to a product rating.
  3. We do not accept any advertising.
  4. We do not sell or endorse any products.
  5. We are receptive to receiving new scientific information about any product or ingredient.
  6. Our researchers and editors will evaluate any new, reliable data, and will make changes in ratings whenever a change is warranted based on new data.