Products and Services for Our Wellbeing from Australia’s Leading Natural Health Brand [Interview][Transcript]

DrLesley Braun Blackmores-AustraliaGuest: Dr. Lesley Braun
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Dr. Lesley Braun is currently Director of the Blackmores Institute, Adjunct Associate Professor of Integrative Medicine at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Monash/Alfred Psychiatric Research centre. Lesley co-authored the best-selling textbook ‘Herbs and Natural Supplements – an evidence based guide’, is founding editor-in-chief of the journal ‘Advances in Integrative Medicine’, and is a regular columnist for the Australian Journal of Pharmacy. She regularly presents at national and international conferences about integrative medicine in addition to undertaking her own complementary medicine research projects.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, learn more about the products and services that Blackmores provide as we are joined by their Director Dr. Lesley Braun. Their quality range of vitamin, minerals, herbal and nutritional supplements, and continued support of the community and environment, are among the many reasons Blackmores is the most trusted name in natural health. This month, they will be hosting the 2015 Blackmores Institute Symposium which will feature plenary sessions as well as GP/allied health and Pharmacist-specific streams, supported by clinical case study workshops. The program will cater to the clinical needs of a wide spectrum of healthcare practitioners including general practitioners, pharmacists, naturopaths, nutritionists and complementary medicine practitioners.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today my guest is Associate Professor Dr. Lesley Braun. Lesley join us from Blackmores and she is going to have a chat to us about the Institute’s Symposium, the Blackmores Institute Symposium. So Lesley welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Lesley Braun: Thank you for having me.

W: Now I haven’t heard of Blackmores Institute particular, I certainly know a Blackmore. Tell us how does it fit together, how does it work within the Blackmore?

L: Okay, well Blackmores Institute was started about roughly 3 and half to 4 years ago. And it was set up to be the academic and professional arm of Blackmores so in other words we’re the non-commercial arm, we really head up all the education and research across the group. And the other thing that we’re very much involved with is trying to translate evidence into practice. So we do that through education, through online webinars, through seminars and also through our upcoming symposium, which will be in Melbourne very soon.

W: Now Blackmores I know has a footprint that’s pretty much global. What’s the institute’s geographic footprint, does it follow the same pattern?

L: Yes it does, we’re based in Sydney on the northern beaches at the head office at Blackmores. And we obviously we have our own part of the building there. But really the director or research for example is in Lismore, we have educators that in virtually every Asian country that Blackmores operate in. We also facilitate researcher through multiple different universities and also in support lectureships as well. So we’ve got excellent relationships and working partnerships with the university such as Sydney University, Monash University, QUT, Griffith University and it just goes on and on.

W: Now those universities that you’ve just been mentioning there are well-rated universities, are you involved in research with them?

L: Yes, we certainly are. At any given time we have roughly 40 different academical research projects ongoing. And very often I get asked by professions of different units who are doing research for us to try and facilitate and support them. So for example we we’re actually approached a little while ago by the Australian Dental Association, who we’re very keen to do some research with pediatric dentistry. And one of the reason they approached us is because with Blackmores products they’re very hard quality, so it’s very easy to get through ethic because of that. But also we really do believe in research and putting back in to try and increase the evidence base. So in fact, in one of the studies that we’re currently trying to support, it’s going to be more costly to create the placebo than to provide the active free of charge. But we … because we need to do it, so we facilitate a lot of research, but we do it very ethically. So … does not get involved with working on the methodology, everything needs to be ethics approved. And we really do encourage all the researchers to publish whether they get a positive or a negative result.

W: Now Lesley you mentioned you’re involved in research in universities and education. But the question I normally ask at this point is about products and services, are there other things you do that you haven’t mentioned?

L: Well we do have a very big education part of what we do. And so we have online modules, so electronic learning. And we actually last year supported would be over 20,000 people using our education services, our mainly pharmacy assistants but also pharmacist and general practitioners, and increasingly we’re getting some of our online modules translated into Mandarin and Thai because we have a big demand in Asia for our education as well. So it’s one of those things I feel very passionate about because I spent 10 years as an academic doing clinical trials, using things like fish oil and coenzyme Q10 in cardiac surgery patients at the Albert Hospital. And we have some fantastic results, we’ve got published in good journals. But the thing that really frustrated me was that it didn’t really change public health and people out there in the real world weren’t really benefiting from some of these results that were showing good benefits. So I’m feeling very passionate about the need to translate that evidence through education and other various communication methods so perhaps the public can benefit.

W: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and my guest today is Associate Professor Dr. Lesley Braun. Lesley is with Blackmores and we’ve been talking about the Blackmores Institute and how they fit in to the Blackmores group. Lesley one of the things that we have run Health Professional Radio as a large clinical audience, that probably 95% of our listeners are clinicians in some sort. Is there any take away message for them that you’d like them to get as a result of having our chat today?

L: I think that it’s really important for people to recognize that particularly in Australia, 7 out of 10 people are using complementary medicine products. It’s really important for clinicians to understand the benefits as well as the risks of those. Particularly I think it’s important for clinicians to understand the evidence based complimentary medicine that would be of benefit to their particular patient group. So for example one of the things that does keep me up at night is when for example I hear of a friend or a family member that maybe going to their GP for a health concern, and instead of being offered something that was safe with evidence that it was the complementary medicine, they straight away offer a prescription medication which does have risk and side effects. And I just keep thinking this is a lost opportunity to improve public health by starting off with lower risk evidence based products or treatments before going to the more high risk type treatment. So I really hope that with more education and people being more informed and clinicians being more informed, it’s actually going to improve public health.

W: Yes, that would. Getting that change through health is never an easy task. Now I understand Blackmores Institute’s running a symposium for healthcare professionals in October, can you tell us more about that?

L: Yeah, sure. It’s gonna be our biggest one yet. We actually had a service symposium in Australia last year and we were oversubscribed. We actually have sent people away because the room wasn’t big enough so it really showed us a big demand. This year it’s going to be in Melbourne at the Pullman Hotel on October 23rd and 24th, and we’ve got over 12 speakers and we’ve got a lot of researchers themselves coming to talk about the research they’ve done with a practical advance. So for example we’ve got Professor Lyn Griffith who’s coming from QUT, she going to talk about the randomized trials that she’s done with a specific vitamin combination for migraine. And also she’s been … nutrigenomics of migraine and how genetic profiling can actually help you to predict who’s more likely to respond to that treatment or not, it’s really groundbreaking stuff. We’ve got some other work as well, for example Professor Andrew Scholey whose talk about curcumin, which is a really popular ingredient, and they’ve done some double blind trials with that, looking at it form brain health and for memory and concentration. And so we’ve got very high calibers speakers talking about cutting edge research that can be used and practiced really the day afterwards.

W: No we all make sure on our website we’ve got the dates and details of that. But just give us once again for those who want to make a note if they didn’t have their pen in their hand.

L: Sure, so it’s in Melbourne at the Pullman Hotel, Friday the 23rd of October and Saturday the 24th of October.

W: Now Lesley if healthcare professionals want to learn more about the evidence herbal and nutritional medicines, where can they go?

L: There’s a number of different places, one of the things that the Blackmore Institute does do as do is we have a medical editor who writes a weekly research newsletter, which you can sign up for and that comes you in box for free every single week. We’ve also got online modules that are open access, that has been put together by universities such as Griffith University. And we’ve made that open access so everyone can get access to them. There’s also a range of resources, so on the Blackmores Institute website we’ve got a comprehensive guide to drug herb interaction, which again is available for free and that’s just been updated by a professor from pharmacy practice from one of the universities. So that we’re fresh on, very up to date and ready to go so I think you’ll find a lot already on the Blackmores Institute website.

W: Lesley Braun it sounds like Blackmores Institute is right on top of this, is there a website that people can just get a hold of Blackmores itself?

L: Well the Blackmores Institute website is separate to the main Blackmores website.

W: Right.

L: It’s really the website for healthcare professionals but you’ll find a higher level of more technical scientific information. So Blackmores Institute website is the one to go to, and log on in and have a look around and I think you’ll find a lot of very useful information.

W: Thank you for your time today Lesley. It’s been lovely having you with us, your passion is clear when you talk about it.

L: Look, thank you very much. And I just think that there so much more we can do to improve public health and certainly complimentary medicine is a big part of that these days.

W: Very true. Now if you’ve missed my chat with Lesley Braun from Blackmores, the good news is we have a transcript on our website at And you can hear an archive of the whole interview both on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and there are links to that on our website as well. You’re listening to Health Professional Radio, my name is Wayne Bucklar.

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