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Background and aim: University student use of Natural Health Products (NHP) for health maintenance (HealthM) is assessed in Canada. We hypothesize greater use of NHP by Native/Aboriginal and female students. Demographic predictor variables and the top ten NHP used are determined.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 963 students (n=212 Native/Aboriginal; n=751 non-Native/Aboriginal) was conducted. χ2 and Fisher’s exact tests analyzed group differences. Multiple logistic regressions determined predictor variables of NHP use.

Results: Of 963 surveyed students, 268 (27.8%) used NHP for HealthM, while 695 students (72.2%) did not. More Native/Aboriginal students used commercial tobacco (47% vs. 13%, P<0.001) and NHP (67% vs. 45%, P<0.001) than non- Native/Aboriginal students. Gender was not associated with NHP use (P=0.527). Canadians used echinacea more than non-Canadians (Odds Ratio [OR]=4.96; 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.2-21.0). Ginger (OR=0.39; 95% CI: 0.2-0.78) and garlic (OR=0.28; 95% CI: 0.13-0.6) were popular amongst non-Canadians. Native/Aboriginal students used homeopathics (OR=39.9; 95% CI: 8.6-185.4) and rat root (OR=56.73; 95% CI: 6.91-465.8). Chamomile was less used by males (OR=0.33; 95% CI: 0.13-0.83) and used more by upperclassmen (OR=2.6 95% CI: 1.3-5.3).

Conclusion: Homeopathics and rat root are popular amongst Native/Aboriginal students. Garlic and ginger are popular amongst non-Canadians than Canadian students; however, more Canadians used echinacea for HealthM than non-Canadians. Chamomile is less popular amongst males. Commercial tobacco is used more by Native/Aboriginal students. Predictors of NHP use are: Native /Aboriginal and upperclassman.


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Medicine and Health Sciences