Products used to restore or maintain good health that are made from natural ingredients, such as, plants, animals, marine life and microbes are called natural health products (NHPs). They are available commercially just like regular drugs in different forms such as capsules, creams and tablets.
Probiotics, Homeopathic, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines are examples of NHPs. NHPs have several advantages over synthetic drugs, which are usually manufactured using artificial ingredients and methods. Here are six advantages of NHPs over synthetic drugs.
1: Unlike Synthetic Drugs, They Have Been In Use For Centuries
The focus during research of synthetic drugs is to identify and isolate the active substances in known natural remedies and to find ways of synthesising them artificially. The other option is to develop new molecules that work in a similar fashion. This makes it easier and cheaper for drug companies to mass produce.
The problem is that these drugs are chemicals, which alter the functioning of our body in a certain way. Even with all the advances in medical science, our body still remains a complex machine that has never been fully understood.
Therefore, the long-term effects of using these chemicals is not known and it takes years before adverse effects are discovered. That is why we read reports about drugs being banned by regulating agencies even though their use was prevalent for many years.
Natural health products, on the other hand, have been in use for centuries and their safety is more or less established or the conditions in which they can cause adverse effects are known.
2: They Treat The Disease Or Underlying Condition And Not Just The Symptoms
Synthetic drugs often give a lot of importance to the symptoms of a condition and that is why they often seem to give immediate relief. Sometimes relieving the symptoms may not be the best idea.
For example, cough suppressants are often prescribed or bought over the counter. Suppressing cough is required in some conditions, but in some others it can prevent chest congestion from getting better. The misuse of cough remedies has forced the regulatory agencies of some countries to restrict their sale. NHPs treat the underlying condition and this results in long-lasting benefits.
3: They Don’t Harm The Body Or Result In Any Major Side-effects
As NHPs are produced from safe substances occurring naturally, there is no risk of any harm at the recommended doses. There are some known interactions and contraindications in certain situations, but these are well known.
Before using some products, it may be necessary to consult a doctor. Side-effects of NHPs tend to be minor in nature and usually stop when the treatment is discontinued. They are also normally safe for all ages at the appropriate doses.
Take cough remedies as an example. Synthetic cough syrups usually contain ingredients, which cause drowsiness. Herbal cough syrups or natural remedies like honey also work well and don’t make you drowsy.
4: They Don’t Make You Dependent On Them
Chemicals in synthetic drugs interfere in the body’s metabolism. In some cases, when they are taken over long durations, the body adjusts itself to nullify the effect. This is known as developing tolerance.
Once a person has developed tolerance, the drug stops producing the required results at the same doses. When such drugs are discontinued, withdrawal symptoms or other undesired results can occur.
Sedatives are common examples of drugs which cause dependence. Once a person gets used to it, it becomes difficult to do without them. NHPs usually don’t cause such difficulties even with long-term usage.
5: Lower Risk Of Allergic Reactions
Synthetic drugs often contain chemical preservatives like parabens and artificial colours. These ingredients increase the risk of allergic reactions. Allergic reaction to NHPs is also a possibility, but the risks are lower.
6: They Are Equally Effective
One concern people have about NHPs is their effectiveness. NHPs not only produce the desired results, the results are usually permanent. With synthetic drugs, the problems very often come back when the drugs are stopped, especially in chronic conditions. However, treatment with NHPs could take more time to produce results unlike synthetic drugs, which give quick relief. The relief with synthetic drugs for chronic problems is usually symptomatic and is short-lived.
In some cases, NHPs are the only way for long-term control of chronic diseases. Asthma and arthritis are examples of conditions where natural health products are usually better than synthetic drugs.
Safe Use Of Natural Health Products
The only disadvantage of NHPs is that they are not as well-regulated as synthetic drugs. While this makes it easier to put new products in the market and increases the availability of NHPs, it also allows fly by night operators and spurious products into the market.
Quality is the most important factor when it comes to natural health products. It is better to pay slightly more for a reputed brand or a reputed store than buying a cheaper product that you are not sure about. Good brands are serious about quality and ensure that it is maintained right from sourcing the ingredients to packaging.
In rare cases, natural products can interact with each other or with other prescription drugs. It is, therefore, important to consult your doctor if you are already taking any medicines or