Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Study: natural substances can be as effective as synthetic drugs

In a first-ever comprehensive study of 124 natural product combinations, a team of researchers found that certain combinations of natural products can be as effective as human-made drugs in acting against specific disease processes.  

Published in PLOS ONE in, the research showed that active ingredients in combinations of natural products can achieve the same level of potency as synthetic anticancer and antibacterial drugs but they have to be taken in larger quantities or for a longer period of time.

Through an analysis of more than 1,601 previous studies conducted on natural products and 190 human-made drugs, the researchers found that natural products are generally 10 to 100 times weaker than human-made drugs. 

The lead author said, "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 human-made drugs. However, the probability of finding such combinations based on traditional methods is low as the natural products have to be of sufficient potency and taken in the right combination."

The team 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. Their research will focus on popular herbal products and frequently prescribed traditional medicine.

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