Many combinations of natural products are as effective as man-made drugs, but without the side effects when acting against specific diseases. For empirical evidence, look no further than the indigenous tribes and cultures which still use many formulations pre-dating the historical record and with great success. A comprehensive study and first of its kind published in PLoS One assessed 124 natural product combinations and found that in the right combinations, they can match drug level potency.
Plants are better than drugs on many levels. Specific herbs, fruits and vegetables have been found on many instances to work better than medication for specific diseases. For example, Soursop Fruit has been found to kill cancer up to 10,000 times more effectively than strong chemotherapy. Consuming apples daily has been found in some studies to be more effective than statin medications at reducing heart disease.Cranberry juice, garlic and turmeric are just three of dozens of other foods which beat drugs in treating and preventing disease.
The researcher’s report that certain combinations of natural products such as those used in traditional Chinese medicine are as potent as made-made drugs designed specifically to battle conditions. The research was led by Professor Chen Yu Zong from the National University of Singapore.
Chen and his colleagues said, for example, that their findings show how the active ingredients in combinations of natural products can achieve the same level of potency as synthetic anticancer and antibacterial drugs, however these products must be taken in larger quantities or for a longer period of time.
“Organic medicinal ingredients align extremely well with the body at all molecular levels through all systems, so naturally concentrations would be lower than pharmaceutical drugs designed for acute responses which are very foreign to the body,” said Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Kate Robinson commenting on the study. “Consuming organic medicinal ingredients would be equal if not superior in the long-term since the alignment would allow the body to heal naturally without the risk of damage to other body systems and organs unlike pharmaceuticals.”
Professor Chen stated “there have been claims that natural products simply have a placebo effect…in our study, we looked at more than 100 types of natural product combinations that are perceived to be the best and found that it is possible for natural products to achieve the same effectiveness as man-made drugs.”
“However…the natural products have to be of sufficient potency and taken in the right combination.”
“The important questions are whether synergistic effects can sufficiently elevate therapeutic potencies to drug levels, and by what mechanisms and at what odds such combinations can be assembled,” said the researchers.
Chen and his team analysed data from 1,601 previous research papers. This literature reported on the cell-based potencies of 190 approved anticancer and antimicrobial drugs, 1378 anticancer and antimicrobial natural products, 99 natural product extracts, 124 synergistic natural product combinations, and 122 molecular interaction profiles of the 19 natural product combinations with collective potency enhanced to drug level or by more than 10-fold.
They found natural products are generally weaker than man-made drugs, but noted that many lower potency natural products can be assembled into combinations of drug level potency.
However, the right combinations of achieving the same therapeutic effect as a drug are needed when issues such as bioavailability and the ability to target the right set of regulators or effectors within cellular systems are considered.
Chen and his team said their findings now provide a foundation for further studies on the clinical effectiveness of herbal medicine, and may lead to research in to how to best achieve combinations of natural products can be taken to fight diseases.
The team said they will continue to conduct more research in this area, in particular, to determine how to achieve the same level of effectiveness for natural products as synthetic drugs — with a focus on popular herbal products and frequently prescribed traditional medicine.
About the Author
Dr. Marianna Pochelli is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine specializing in the treatment of disease through superfoods and herbal strategies. She actively promotes detoxification, colon cleansing, and a vegetarian lifestyle using living foods as a platform to health.