Advantages and future of Natural Products over Allopathic medicine.
Will natural products lead in future? What are the advantages and future of natural products over allopathic medicine?
Non-allopathic Indian medicines, referred to elsewhere in the world as complementary and alternative medicine have gathered increasing recognition in recent years about both treatment options and health hazards. World Health Organization (WHO) has defined herbal medicines as finished labeled medicinal product that contain an active ingredient, aerial, or underground parts of the plant or other plant material or combinations. According to a report of WHO, about 80% of the world population is reported to rely on traditional medicine for their primary health care needs. Even in the developed countries, complementary or alternative medicine is gaining popularity. The non-allopathic medicinal systems, Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, and homeopathy are comprising of a wide range of therapeutic approaches that include diet, herbs, metals, minerals, precious stones and their combinations as well as non-drug therapies. The major non-allopathic traditional medicine practiced around the world are
- Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM): Originated in China thousands of years ago.
- Ayurveda: Originated in India originated dated back to the pre-Vedic epochs (4000 BC–1500 BC)
- Unani medicine: Originated in India that are derived from Greco-Arabic medicine dating back 2500 years and developed during the Arab civilization.
- Kampo (traditional Japanese medicine): Originated in Japan, which was introduced from China via the Korean peninsula in the 5th or 6th century.
- Traditional Korean medicine (TKM), Sasang constitutional medicine (SCM): SCM is a division of Korean traditional medicine, which was first introduced in the mid-19th century.
- Traditional Aboriginal medicine: Originated in Australia by Indigenous peoples of Australia.
- Traditional medicine in Africa: Originated in Africa
- Russian herbal medicine: Originated in Russia ‚ 10th century
Natural products played critical roles in modern drug development that has been started in early 19th Century. Active ingredients from plans are separated, identified, and synthesized in laboratory. The major advantages of allopathy over natural/non-allopathic medicine is that the active ingredients are pure in form and quality control of the same is easy. On the other hand the existing quality & regulatory systems for natural/herbal products needs further development and different governing bodies are working across the globe for harmonizing the same.
Use natural/herbal medicine along with allopathic medicine is becoming common in developing and developed countries.
I think natural products/medicine will help lead the future. Using myself as an example I am now in charge of Nutrition for the VA with my NAMED Program through VetCV.com. The public is becoming more aware of natural medicine and more suspect of allopathic medicine. The main advantages we have are no side affects. The disadvantages we have right now are insurance coverage and acceptance by the AMA. I believe we will end up working together more and more like I am doing for the veterans.
As a general observation, Western/Allopathic medicine has failed to address the chronic conditions of our current population. Period. We need a better plan. Alternative medicine can successfully fill this gap. Our goal should be to have it go mainstream & be included in insurance plans as it is a part of EU coverage.
Hippocrates, Greek physician, and the father of Western medicine has been associated with the following quotes:
* Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
* Life is short, the art long.
*Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.
* Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.
*Make a habit of two things: to help; or at least to do no harm.
*Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.
Allopathic medicine, in principle, was supposedly derived from the foundations laid down by Hippocrates. Unfortunately, a lot has changed in it's practice today.
According to the WHO, "health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity but a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing". This definition is consistent with Hippocrates' submission and the practice of alternative, complementary, homeopathic, and natural medicine. Here, food, medicine and poisons are biological agents which are needed to balance or moderate one another in maintaining health, preventing or combating diseases.
The advantages and future of natural products over allopathic medicine are enormous. Asides the global trends in antibiotic resistance; the pandemic proportion of metabolic disorders which allopathic medicine has no comprehensive solution for is a major issue that would help in the adoption of natural products therapy in the near future.
Nutritional medicine and dietary management of diseases are already becoming popular. The problem of allopathic medicine is that it has become a trade in the hands of greedy individuals and organizations; without the passion and empathy expected from taking the Hippocratic oath or a knowledge of it.
Natural products therapy is a more comprehensive, multi-target, multifarious ingredients-based set of treatments and are more compatible with the bodies' physiology and also more effective against pathological conditions than the mono-target, single ingredient approach to modern allopathic medical practice.
"Allopathic" or "Modern Medicine" is an all encompassing term where medical treatments or drugs are only allowed after undergoing thorough clinical trials in terms of their effectiveness and side-effects. The benefits and risks are generally well known for modern medical drugs and the industry has high degree of legal responsibility towards the well being of patients. The patent filings of modern drugs which are accessible to general population offer a high level of transparency. Whenever any natural product has shown to be effective against diseases modern medicine has always adopted their active ingredients after rigorous scientific research and clinical trials.
Most natural product medicines available in market do not have good scientific research behind them. Due to the lack of systematic clinical studies/trials for these natural product medicines (such as Ayurvedic, traditional chinese medicines, or others) they are generally marketed as health supplements which do not require stringent medical quality/efficacy/safety controls and the manufacturers have questionable record in terms of transparency and accountability. In recent years general public/media have had positive views about natural products as medicine but without thorough scientific research their efficacy remains doubtful.
In my view natural product medicines will continue to occupy peripheral interest in healthcare sector as it does now. A meticulous scientific evidence based effort will have to be made for it to transition into mainstream treatment of serious health problems. As it currently stands the discipline of modern medicine is likely to remain mainstream for the foreseeable future.
Dear Abhishek, I will not name any brand name natural products available in market here . However, below are some of the conclusions from peer-reviewed studies:
- Skyler B. Johnson et al. JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst. (2018), 110 (1), 121. The researchers from Yale School of Medicine found that sole use of alternative medicine for curable cancers (in absence of conventional cancer treatment) results in greater risk of mortality. The study was conducted on 281 patients with nonmetastatic breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer.
- Kannan Sridharan, et al. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (2016), 7 (3), 141. The researchers report that there are very few clinical trials on Ayurvedic medicines and the current state of available data is subpar.
- Ashwini Mathur, et al. Journal of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine (2010), 1 (1), 55. The researchers accept that there is lack of efficacy of Ayurvedic treatments in clinical trials. They also report that scientifically acceptable randomized trials and their reporting lacks standard framework and protocols.
- Fabio Firenzuoli, et al. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine B (2007), 4 (S1), 37. The researchers state that absorption/metabolism/efficacy of herbs and their extracts remains an important problem yet to be satisfactorily explained. They also state that although herbal remedies carry risks public incorrectly consider them safe. The researchers conclude that there is strong need for acquisition of stringent pharmacological quality reliable data on safety and herbal based or herbal derived remedies.
Conventional/modern medicines are well documented in various journals such as N. Engl. J. of Med., The Lancet, J. of Am. Med. Assoc., US and European patents.