Benefits of Natural Herbs over Synthetic Pharmaceutical Medicine
Herbal remedies have been in use for thousands of years by indigenous tribes and cultures like the Africans, Indians, and Chinese. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines herbal medicine as a practice which includes herbs, herbal materials, herbal preparations and finished herbal products that contain active ingredients parts of plants, other plant materials or combinations of plants. These herbs are derived from parts such as leaves, flowers, stems, seeds or roots.
These active ingredients protect plants from damage and diseases and contribute to the plant’s aroma, flavour and colour. Scientifically, they are known as phytochemicals, including several classes such as saponins, flavonoids, glycosides, tannins, alkaloids and terpenoids. Phytochemicals have been scientifically validated over the years to provide health benefits for humans.
Over the years, there has been an escalating interest in the use of herbal medicine worldwide. The most commonly used herbs as medicine are garlic, ginkgo Biloba, St John’s wort, milk thistle and echinacea.
Synthetic pharmaceutical medicine or better known as modern medicine is made from chemicals or compounds used to relieve, cure, or prevent disease. Some of the medicine is made in labs or biologically engineered by inserting genes into bacteria to produce desired substance. Modern medicine acts in a variety of ways. Some can cure illness by killing the spread of germs to aid the immune system to fight infections, while some medications can only relieve the symptoms without curing the illness.
How Natural Herbs Differ from Synthetic Pharmaceutical Medicine
- Made from natural plants without chemicals
The difference between medicine made from natural herbs and synthetic pharmaceutical medicine is that herbal medicine is derived from plants rich in various compounds. The synergies between the compound to each other makes it an excellent healing source. Synthetic pharmaceutical medicine is synthesized chemically and usually, each medicine is targeted for only one particular disease.
- Address disease by the root cause
Using natural herbs as medicine helps supports the body to heal naturally by the root cause. However, synthetic medicine may reduce discomfort in a shorter time but it only addresses the symptoms without addressing the root cause. For example, in modern medicine arthritis is usually treated with anti-inflammatory drugs to mask the symptoms. This differs in herbal medicine because it does not just relieve the symptoms, but it targets the body system or source of pain/discomfort by improving blood circulation and moistening the dry synovia.
- Minimal risks of side effects
Synthetic medicine takes a shorter time to relieve pain but, it comes with side effects. However, there is a minimal risk of side effects in herbal medicine because the combination of multiple compounds creates a synergistic effect to lessen the toxicity to make it easier to be accepted by the body.
- Accessibility and affordability
Natural herbs are available in abundance and manufacturing herbal medicine will take a shorter time and lower cost making it easier for people to obtain than prescription medicine. This is because synthetic medicine needs to go through tedious research and development processes before manufacturing making it costly and not readily available.
- Low chances of addiction
Herbal medicines are considered less potent than synthetic pharmaceutical medicine as they have several active ingredients that are chemically similar and work synergistically to contribute to the therapeutic effect of each individual ingredient. However, synthetic pharmaceutical medicine or over-the-counter medicine usually contains one highly concentrated active ingredient. It can also be bought at a store without a prescription or age limit. In the USA, reportedly there are 3.1 million people aged around 12-25 who abused cold and cough medicine to get high. This is because cough and cold medicine contain dextromethorphan and pseudoephedrine respectively as active ingredients. Both of these active ingredients can cause hallucinations when abused.
Herbal medicine has gained more attention from all over the world throughout the years. People start searching for an alternative to modern medicine to treat health conditions. However, it should be kept in my mind to always search for herbal medicine that has been thoroughly researched and approved by a reputable organization to fully reap the benefits of the medicine.