Understanding the Difference between the Herbal and Conventional Drug approach to treatment

Compared to the complexity of Herbal Medicine, Conventional drugs are relatively uncomplicated to understand. This appears to be the case whether the source is synthetic or derived from natural sources (plants). This is largely due in part to the differences in the approach to treatment between Herbal Medicine and Conventional drugs.

hand fulla pills

Conventional drugs and the Isolation approach

When formulating conventional drugs, a method is used to isolate a single molecule and in some cases several molecules from a crude plant which appear to provide most or all of the beneficial factors.

Because single chemical constituents are isolated to form conventional drugs, they can be studied apart from any other factors which could interfere with the outcome or behavior. Therefore, by the time a drug is on the market, the pharmacology has been studied to the point where the responses and accuracy can be predicted.

Pros and Cons of the Isolation approach

Isolating a compound allows for clinical indications to be somewhat standardized. Ultimately, any improvement or changes in condition can then be attributed to the isolated drug. That seemingly apparent information can be valuable in treatment.

The isolation method of approach can be referred to as activity guided modeling. Activity-guided modeling misses the benefit of other plant constituents on the overall outcome, as well as other outcomes not being assessed. This can lead to severe oversights and a failure to recognize “inactive” constituents as providing important functions.(“Synergy in Herbal Medicines: Part 1” 2017)

herbal medicine pills

Herbal Medicine and the Synergistic approach

Synergy is the process of using multiple herbs in a formulated way which fosters them working together to neutralize or enhance the activities of one another. Typically buffering any potential side effects while allowing the body to respond in a positive manner to the intended action of the herbs in the formulation.

Herbal medicines consist of many different compounds in different proportions which typically have varied individual pharmacological activities. When using herbal medicines, the activity of the whole herb is safer and more effective than using isolated chemicals extracted from a few of its parts. Many potentially toxic chemicals found in plants are often naturally buffered by other compounds that come along with the entire plant. It’s the isolation of chemicals, like morphine from the poppy and cocaine from the coca plant, which leads to toxicity.

Pros and cons of the Synergistic approach

Herbalism is the practice of wellness that embraces art and science. Plants and herbs have sustained the health and well-being of humankind for tens of thousands of years. Herbs work synergistically on mind and body to return a sense of holism and connection to our being and to our world. It is in this way that they can heal more than just physical ailments.

Some of the challenging aspects of using herbal medicine have to do with the lack of regulation within the industry which may lead to uninformed consumers purchasing inferior products. This can make dosing very difficult and possibly risky.

Herbal medicine is also not compatible with treatment of urgent conditions such as broken limbs or serious trauma. Herbal medicines may help to ease the symptoms and bring relief in these cases, but would not be as well equipped to handle these situations such as a convention doctor with certain types of diagnostic equipment.

conventional vs herbs 2

It Doesn’t have to be Herbal (or) Conventional

There are many different things to consider when determining what method of treatment to consider. Understanding what the conventional and herbal approaches to treatment are may help in determining the best course of action. Sometimes a combination of conventional and Herbal treatments can be combined by working with a Conventional and Herbal practitioner. If there is no conflict of interest between the natural and synthetic treatments, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Be transparent and openly communicate with your Medical Doctor if you would like to supplement any current treatment with Herbal options.  They will provide the proper guidance on whether the condition can be supplemented with medicinal herbs in conjunction with any existing treatment plan.  It has been reported that it is commonplace for a person to be able to lessen or completely stop taking their prescribed medication over time under the care of a skilled Herbalist.

Be Careful!

Please note that using medicinal herbs is a very complex science that should not be taken lightly. Natural does not mean without consequence if the proper knowledge, dosage, mixture, application and prior research are not utilized. Information on the internet is not a substitute for medical advice provided Medical Professionals, and a Licensed Herbalist may be the best place to start if considering natural alternatives.

When it comes to your treatment options, Do you prefer Conventional  Drugs over Herbal Medicine? Do you think the two may be combined? Comment below!


Grunert, Jeanne. “Advantages and Disadvantages of Herbal Medicine.” LoveToKnow. LoveToKnow Corp, n.d. Web. 13 July 2017.

“Synergy in Herbal Medicines: Part 1.” Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine. N.p., 28 June 2017. Web. 13 July 2017.








One Comment Add yours

  1. mindbodyandsoul1010 says:

    Reblogged this on Mindbodyandsoul1010.blog and commented:

    It’s really about Isolation Verses Synergy!


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