What To Do? Deciding Between Natural Supplements And Synthetic Drugs
By Dr Karen Vieira, PhD

Figuring out what you need to do to stay healthy can be very confusing. With prescription drugs available for anything – from high blood pressure to anxiety or any other illness – doctors are quick to prescribe drugs for every ailment. To further complicate matters, you can get a wide range of over-the-counter drugs and nutritional supplements from the Internet or your local pharmacy, for just about any health concern you may have. When determining what the right choices are for you, always remember that there are a few things to keep in mind.

The manufacturer

Most medications prescribed by your doctor, as well as many of those sold over-the-counter, are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. These companies are subject to strict guidelines, but are however, permitted to add hundreds of artificial ingredients, such as colours or flavours, to the active ingredient of the drug. Active ingredients are chemical designed to address your particular health problem. These chemicals are usually tested on laboratory animals and then in humans, to determine how effective and safe they are.

Nutritional supplements often differ from prescription drugs in the way they are produced. Supplements are commonly derived from foods or plants, therefore many have fewer added ingredients and therefore are more natural.

Safety and side effects

When choosing a drug or supplement, it is important to consider the potential
risks it may pose to your health. Synthetic drugs are not natural, meaning they
can be difficult for the body to metabolise. In addition, it is possible for these medications to have unintended effects in the body. These effects can range from mild to very serious, depending on how your body reacts to the chemicals. While drug companies and government agencies work to ensure that side
effects are minimised, there are still many reports of dangerous side effects
of many drugs.

Due to the fact that they are natural, supplements typically carry fewer side effects. Your body may experience an influence from natural supplements
called the ‘healing effect’, which is not a negative side effect. This is when the
body is detoxifying after the commencement of taking supplements and you can sometimes feel slightly ‘uneasy’, with minor
short-term headaches or symptoms of nausea. This will pass and is simply a sign that your body is ‘doing its job’.

Safety and side effects

Pharmaceutical drugs and nutritional supplements are created and sold for quite different purposes. Synthetic drugs are most commonly prescribed for a specific illness and taken solely to relieve the effects of that illness. For certain ailments, these synthetic drugs work well.

Nutritional supplements, however, are generally used differently. They aim to strengthen the overall body by providing what is lacking in the modern diet, or they target specific areas of the body to promote healthy functioning of that part of the body. Supplements are part of a more holistic way of viewing health that focusses on maintaining health and preventing disease. Many supplements routinely stand up to the same trials as pharmaceutical drugs and prove as effective or even more effective in diseases. They are used as a natural way to promote long-term health without the risk of developing chemical dependency or permanent damage from chemical medications.