Wednesday, 17th September 2014

Natural vs. Synthetic Medicine

  • Definition
  • Properties
  • History
  • FDA regulation
  • Risks
  • Organic Certification of Forces of Nature Products
  • Organic Certifying Organizations

  • We will be developing this page into a master resource and reference page with multiple articles. Natural treatments are the foundation, cornerstone and entire business of Forces of Nature. We would like to use this page to show the distinctions between what medicinal plants and synthetic products offer, and make it easy for anyone to get additional information on these matters.


    Natural Medicine is the first form of treatment that has been used for thousands of years. The intrinsic healing properties found in plant extracts have been successful in treating various illnesses since the ancient times.

    The word “natural” has not been defined by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA says that the term is very complex; hence products are not encouraged in using the term in labels to avoid misconception. However, FDA refers to natural ingredients as those that are extracted directly from natural sources without undergoing any form of synthetic processing.

    Natural medicines are made from non-toxic, natural ingredients that have been proven to be effective in treating diseases. Their approach to healing centers around using ingredients found in nature, and unlike synthetic medicines, natural medicines are safe and do not cause any adverse side effects.

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 75-80% of people still use plant medicines in place of synthetic medicines.

    Synthetic Medicines – Over the years, treatments have gotten more complicated and medicines have drastically evolved. From plant extracts and essential oils normally used in the early days, conventional medicine is now characterized by synthetic, chemical-based drugs that are produced in the laboratory.

    Conventional medicines are designed to suppress the body’s immune response to treat the symptoms of a certain disease. Aside from drugs, it may also involve radiation and surgery. [1] These are the type of drugs tied to the colossal pharmaceutical industry.


    Natural – Nature provides a wide variety of plants that contain medicinal properties. The powerful ingredients found in the stems, leaves, roots, flowers, and seeds of certain plants have natural healing properties that have been found to cure various health problems.

    According to a recent national survey, the ten most commonly used herbs in the US are:

    • Echinacea is used for treatment of common cold.
    • Ginseng improves energy and physical performance.
    • Ginkgo balboa is believed to be effective for dementia.
    • Garlic lowers cholesterol levels.
    • St. John’s Wort is effective in treating mild to moderate depression.
    • Peppermint is used for treatment of digestive problems.
    • Ginger is used for treatment of nausea.
    • Soy is commonly used for treatment of menopausal symptoms.
    • Chamomile works as an anti-inflammatory agent. It can also alleviate pain, ease tension, and aid in digestive problems.
    • Kava kava is used for treatment of stress and anxiety.

    Other popular medicinal plant extracts include:

    • Calendula has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe irritated tissues. It is also used as a remedy for acne.
    • Tea tree oil has antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It is most popularly used as a remedy to acne.
    • Lavender oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. As a mood enhancer, it can help alleviated fatigue, tension, and nervousness.

    “Organic” in relation to Natural Medicines – The term “organic” refers to the way the products are grown in such a way that it does not spoil the soil and pollute the water. Organic products are grown using natural fertilizers such as manure, seaweed, compost, and sewage. There are certain requirements to meet in order for the product to be labeled “organic”. According to the US Department of Agriculture, “Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.” [2]

    Some medicinal plants are organically grown; therefore, they contain no chemical fertilizers and pesticides that have the potential to increase health risks. In addition, extracts from organic plants possess the highest quality ingredients, thus maximizing their natural healing abilities.

    Properties of Synthetic Medicine – Drugs produced in the laboratory are a synthetic reproduction of a certain molecular structure, which may be copied from plants, animals, and other minerals. They are developed as a response to a need for treatment.

    The World Health Organization has come up with a list of essential medicines, which is defined as “those that satisfy the health care needs of the majority of the population; they should therefore be available at all times in adequate amounts and in the appropriate dosage forms.” [3] The list contains the most efficacious, safe and cost-effective drugs for priority conditions, which are selected on the basis of current and estimated future public health relevance, and potential for safe and cost‐effective treatment. [4]

    The first ten on the list updated last March 2010 are:

    • Anaesthetics
    • Analgesics, antipyretics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIMs), medicines used to treat gout and disease modifying agents in rheumatoid disorders (DMARDs)
    • Anti-allergics and medicines used in anaphylaxis
    • Antidotes and other substances used in poisonings
    • Anti-convulsants/antiepileptics
    • Anti-infective medicines
    • Anti-migraine medicines
    • Ant-ineoplastic, immunosuppressives and medicines used in palliative care
    • Anti-parkinsonism medicines
    • Medicines affecting the blood


    Natural Medicine – Medicinal plant extracts have a natural healing ability that is backed by a substantial history of use. Written records show that our early ancestors had knowledge of the use of plants as medicines. Natural remedies derived from plants, animals, and minerals have been prominent in different cultures throughout history. The Sumerians, Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, and Romans have all recorded data containing early medical knowledge.

    Synthetic Medicine – Modern medicine was revolutionized in the 20th century when Alexis Carrel and Henry Dakin developed the Carrel-Dakin method in treating wounds during the First World War. They used the Dakin’s solution, a germicide that helped prevent gangrene. One of the most notable breakthroughs in the field of medicine is Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928, which paved the way for modern medicine.

    Role of Medicinal Plants in Synthetic Medicine

    Some synthetic drugs are derived from medicinal plants. They are synthetically produced in laboratories without the use of plant materials. For example, aspirin, a popular drug used for pain, fever, inflammation, and sometimes used to prevent heart attacks and strokes, is a derived from willow bark. [5] Morphine, a pain reliever, is derived from papaver somniferum.

    FDA Regulation:

    Natural medicine – Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, herbs or other botanicals are considered as “dietary supplements,” which also includes vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites. [6] FDA specifies that manufacturers of these products should ensure that they are safe before released for public consumption.

    Synthetic medicine – The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) is tasked to evaluate the safety and efficacy of both prescription and nonprescription drugs and make sure that the benefits outweigh the risks. Pharmaceutical companies are required to test the drugs and submit evidence to CDER for an unbiased assessment.

    Risks, Side Effects, Contra-indications:

    Manufacturers of drugs are required to list all known side effects of their products. Both natural and synthetic drugs are expected to exhibit certain measures on the body. When a drug is introduced into the system, there is always a possibility that the body might react to it in a negative way. Also, certain drugs might react with another drug.

    When used in the right manner, most FDA-approved drugs are more beneficial than harmful. It is important to discuss with your doctor first before taking any kind of medication.

    Natural Medicine – Aside from its active ingredients, plants contain other substances that may have powerful effects. There have been reported side effects caused by contaminants and drug interactions. Unfortunately, there are no concrete studies on the possible adverse reactions caused by herbs.

    Natural medicines are not meant to replace conventional treatments. Consult your doctor before taking any kind of medication, especially when pregnant or nursing.

    Synthetic Medicine – Despite the scientific advances behind synthetic medicines, adverse side effects have occurred as a result of these treatments. In some cases, certain medications have caused a new disease, e.g. Parkinsonism due to antipsychotic drugs, and ulcers caused by NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

    In addition, non-medical use of prescription drugs has become a serious health concern. These drugs can become very addictive and dangerous. According to the data from National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 20.8% of the population aged 12 and older or as much as 52 million Americans reported non-medical use of prescription drugs at some point in their lifetimes. [7]

    According to the report on prescription drug abuse by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the three most commonly abused prescription drugs are opiods, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and stimulants. [8]

    Drug abuse can lead to various health risks depending on the drug used. Complications with other drugs can also lead to life threatening health problems. For example, misuse or abuse of opioids can lead to severe respiratory depression or death. When complications with other drugs occur, central nervous system (CNS) depressants can slow heart rate and respiration, which can also be fatal. Taking stimulants in high doses can lead to irregular heartbeats, high body temperature, and/or cardiovascular collapse.

    Read more about prescription drug abuse in the full report from NIDA.

    References: (Links open in New Window)


    Organic Certification of Forces of Nature Products

    by Dr. Peter Klapper

    The medicinal plant extracts used in our products come from a variety of countries, all certified organic by the representative certifying organic institutions. These agencies have rather strict guidelines for compliance. Most farms need to practice organic agriculture for a minimum of 3 – 5 years before they are able to even qualify for certification. This is done in an effort to make sure that the land is free from any residual pesticide use and completely pure in every way. This also means that the land from which we secure our raw material has been harvesting these medicinal plants for years and years under absolute optimum growing conditions. This will of course yield the most vibrant, fertile and efficacious plant material on the planet. period. This is an important element to the unique success of our treatments, and also helps support a sustainable planet.

    Most of the farms we secure ingredients from have been harvesting for decades and decades, strictly organic. It is their craft, their passion, their love (as is mine) and passed down from generation to generation. This includes areas high in the Himalayan Mountains in Northern Nepal, southern Spain, France, Cyprus and Thailand, to name a few.

    Organic Certifying Organizations

  • Ecocert (French certifying organization):

  • NASAA (Australian and International Organic Certifier)

  • USDA Organic. –

  • Biological Farmers of Australia –

  • Demeter: BioDynnamic Agriculture Certifying Body