When we think of the word natural, we assume because it’s derived from nature and existed with no human interference that it is totally safe; unfortunately, this is not the case.
The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency assesses products for safety and labels them with (MA) Marketing Authorization or (PL) Product Licence or the THR logo for Traditional Herbal Registration. If you are unsure about the safety of any products claiming to be natural or herbal, check for these labels.
Natural is not always safe. For example, lead is a naturally occurring metal, but it is harmful to human life, whereas some synthetic ingredients which are produced in a laboratory are perfectly safe. The question to ask is not ‘Is it safe?’ but ‘Does the product have the potential to harm a person’s health?’
There have been numerous clinical studies on products checking their safety. For example, we all think that herbal remedies are full of natural safe ingredients; this has proven to not be the case. A dietary supplement for anxiety called Kava, a native plant from the South Pacific, has been linked to liver damage. Also, a Chinese herbal medicine, Yiganerjing Cream, has been found to contain an undisclosed steroid and antifungal ingredients and is an unlicensed product. Therefore, by using adaptive phase 1 studies run by http://www.richmondpharmacology.com/specialist-services/adaptive-phase-i-studies, we will develop stronger regulations to prevent the use of unsafe medicines and healthcare products in the future.
Natural products are not always free of chemicals. This is another word which we automatically think ‘unsafe’. Some chemicals are harmful, full of toxic substances, but there are many toxic chemicals that occur in nature. Things like oxygen and iron are necessary for our survival, but in high doses they are fatal. Everything is made up of chemicals – even the air we breathe. In fact, we are made up of chemicals.
We as human beings tend to get an idea in our head and believe it as gospel. The word natural tells us its safe, better and healthier, and this is mostly true but is not always the case. Natural medicines are not without their side effects – some with serious safety concerns. So let’s be sensible, read labels, check safety regulations and, if unsure, ask a professional or just don’t buy it.
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