Why are natural products considered safe over conventional chemotherapy

Hi there.
I am reading a paper and got stumped by a question: Why are traditional natural products considered safe over conventional chemotherapy drugs?

"Chemotherapy is very important in cancer treatment but
most of the drugs which are currently used in chemotherapy
have lesser potential because they are mono-targeting, very
expensive and cause severe side effects. The medicinal plants
and herbs can be more effective because they have multi-targeting
effect. They are also affordable and safer."(from the paper)

I guess that herbal medicines cause fewer side-effects than allopathic medicines and hence are considered safer. However, both herbal medicines and chemotherapeutic drugs have a similar chemical composition for the medicine to work, but still, herbal meds show fewer side effects, why?

Mentor Note: Adding link to reference supplied by the OP:
Could you please add this link to the main post?
Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29160133
 
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...herbal meds show fewer side effects, why?
Usually they show less main effect too (if they were even ever tested for effect, what is not always sure).

But the more general answer for your question is, that they are often considered safe only because of marketing.
 

pinball1970

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Hi there.
I am reading a paper and got stumped by a question: Why are traditional natural products considered safe over conventional chemotherapy drugs?

"Chemotherapy is very important in cancer treatment but
most of the drugs which are currently used in chemotherapy
have lesser potential because they are mono-targeting, very
expensive and cause severe side effects. The medicinal plants
and herbs can be more effective because they have multi-targeting
effect. They are also affordable and safer."(from the paper)

I guess that herbal medicines cause fewer side-effects than allopathic medicines and hence are considered safer. However, both herbal medicines and chemotherapeutic drugs have a similar chemical composition for the medicine to work, but still, herbal meds show fewer side effects, why?
This from the UK

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/complementary-alternative-therapies/individual-therapies/herbal-medicine
 
But the more general answer for your question is, that they are often considered safe only because of marketing.
I couldn't get you.
 

Ygggdrasil

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Why are traditional natural products considered safe over conventional chemotherapy drugs?
As a whole they are not. There are certainly some natural products that are safe, but there are many that are not. People generally believe "natural" products to be safer than "synthetic" chemicals, but this is the result of marketing from companies and other interested entities that exploit the public's fear of the unknown to stoke chemophobia and convince people to pay money for products with labels like "all natural" or "non-GMO."

In the US, most chemotherapy drugs are approved by the FDA and need to undergo testing in large clinical trials to prove safety and efficacy. Alternative treatments, such as herbal remedies, however, are largely unregulated and have not undergone any testing in clinical trials to assess their safety and efficacy. https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/complementary-and-alternative-medicine/dietary-supplements/fda-regulations.html
 
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russ_watters

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The ultimate example is homeopathy, which is perfectly safe because it contains nothing at all and therefore does nothing; good or bad.
 

Orodruin

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The ultimate example is homeopathy, which is perfectly safe because it contains nothing at all and therefore does nothing; good or bad.
This is unfortunately not completely true. The placebo (or nocebo) effect can be quite remarkable.
 

Orodruin

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Getting better and feeling better I would argue are two different things.
Yes, but the placebo effect has been known to be getting people better - not just feeling. Conversely, nocebo has made people significantly worse.
 

pinball1970

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Yes, but the placebo effect has been known to be getting people better - not just feeling. Conversely, nocebo has made people significantly worse.
The ailments treated 'successfully' with aromatherapy, homeopathy, magnets etc tend to be things like addiction, depression, ME, pain related illness like arthritis. So illness where being happy, feeling like you're being looked after and someone is really making an effort to get at your illness and do something about it makes a difference. What is the average time a GP spends with a patient? A homeopath spends more time talking and then administering water to the patient. Does placebo actually cure people? I doubt it would cure anything metabolic or genetic like cancer diabetes, anaemia, cystic fibrosis? Immune response can be affected by levels of stress so being happy is useful for health.
 
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Does placebo actually cure people? ... cancer...
This can easily lead to a difficult war of definitions, but cancer treatment often measured as additional time instead of plain 'success'. In this context placebo (and any other type of portioned faith) has meaning: sometimes even a false nose can be considered useful.

I do hate homeopathy and other industries selling faith at high price, but I have to admit that in this regard the clinically tested chemicals still has a lot to learn.

Also, I have to mention that pretty big part of medicines does not actually aim to cure anything: they only makes you feel better.
 

pinball1970

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This can easily lead to a difficult war of definitions, but cancer treatment often measured as additional time instead of plain 'success'. In this context placebo (and any other type of portioned faith) has meaning: sometimes even a false nose can be considered useful.

I do hate homeopathy and other industries selling faith at high price, but I have to admit that in this regard the clinically tested chemicals still has a lot to learn.

Also, I have to mention that pretty big part of medicines does not actually aim to cure anything: they only makes you feel better.
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be curative and are successful for some cancers.
 
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"The ultimate example is homeopathy, which is perfectly safe because it contains nothing at all and therefore does nothing; good or bad."

I'd beg to differ: homeopathy is potentially lethal because it promises benefit beyond placebo, may prevent timely medical intervention.
( And, yes, given cash flow constraints, purchase of expensive homeopathic 'remedies' may preclude purchase of functional medication / treatment... )

FWIW, a 'friend of friend' made the mistake of praising her favourite homeopathic remedy's benefits within my hearing. Given the non-trivial cost, and the belief that such serial dilution (*) unto nowt wondrously enhanced its powers, I suggested it should work even better if not ingested, if simply left in bottle and carefully observed.
Then I suggested it should work if left in shop window and observed there, no purchase required.
Then I suggested it should work if imagined as seen in shop window, so available 'out of hours'...
She thought this was a wonderful wheeze.
By which time she realised what I'd done, I'd left...
;-)

*) Watching typical homeopath do serial dilutions is a singular torture for any-one who's done proper analytical pipetting...
 

DaveC426913

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"The ultimate example is homeopathy, which is perfectly safe because it contains nothing at all and therefore does nothing; good or bad."

I'd beg to differ: homeopathy is potentially lethal because it promises benefit beyond placebo, may prevent timely medical intervention.
At the risk of speaking for Russ, I'll bet he would agree.

I'd say he was talking about the medicinal effect being neither positive nor negative.

The risk from believing in snake oil certainly can have a deleterious effect on seeking proper care and treatment.
 

cmb

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Hi there.
I am reading a paper and got stumped by a question: Why are traditional natural products considered safe over conventional chemotherapy drugs?

"Chemotherapy is very important in cancer treatment but
most of the drugs which are currently used in chemotherapy
have lesser potential because they are mono-targeting, very
expensive and cause severe side effects. The medicinal plants
and herbs can be more effective because they have multi-targeting
effect. They are also affordable and safer."(from the paper)

I guess that herbal medicines cause fewer side-effects than allopathic medicines and hence are considered safer. However, both herbal medicines and chemotherapeutic drugs have a similar chemical composition for the medicine to work, but still, herbal meds show fewer side effects, why?

Mentor Note: Adding link to reference supplied by the OP:
I think the answer is that people just like to think they are.

I am allergic to the 'skins' of most fruits, for example I am allergic to whole nuts but can eat marzipan fine. It is the skin of the nut I react to. Nuts are the worst, but I react in some way to all fruit and vegetable skins to a greater or lesser extent. I find a lot of 'natural' products grind in all the skin materials too, so I generally assume I will react badly to 'natural' products.

Most 'natural skin creams' are a disaster to me. If moisturising is necessary I have to stick with refined oil goo only = vaseline!
 
Many people believe in the link between the mind and the body, healthy mind means and healthy body. If one believes they will get better, the body reacts to this.

You never find people recovering from serious illness and then afterwards stating "I gave up completely and suddenly i got better" where as you do find people recovering who claim "I refused to give in to this condition."

There is no scentific proof of this of course, but I personally believe a positive mental attitude can influence the body's healing ability somewhat. I strongly emphasise the word "influence" in my statement as opposed to "cure."

On the syntheic vs natural/herbal remedies debate, i'm not sure how much of this is down to marketing. I think most people mentally determine that natural remedies are better for you as they are from nature and not man made. I do not subscribe to this theory.
 

jim mcnamara

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We are running into the issue of the meaning of the word 'theory' in the thread.

Non-science people use the word theory to mean 'I just thought up a cool idea'. It can be a current belief based on hearsay. Or internet buzz.

Science people use the word theory to mean a statement about the real world that has been tested and verified, repeatedly. Theories have the "ability" to predict things we had not observed in the original work on the subject.
Neutron stars and black holes were discovered after using calculations based on Einstein's Theory of General Relativity to calculate that they must exist. Even though there was no evidence (at the time) to assert that they existed.

Helen Quinn has a lot to say on this subject:

 

cmb

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Science people use the word theory to mean a statement about the real world that has been tested and verified, repeatedly. Theories have the "ability" to predict things we had not observed in the original work on the subject.
I am not entirely convinced. Science people are also prone to over-using the word, mixing 'theory' with 'hypothesis'.
 

Mark Harder

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Mark Harder

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...most of the drugs which are currently used in chemotherapy
have lesser potential because they are mono-targeting, very
expensive and cause severe side effects.
I won't argue with the "very expensive" part. However, the rest of this analysis is self-contradictory, IMO. Mono-targeting drugs are exactly those that produce fewer side effects, all other things being equal. It's the affinities of multiple targets for a pharmaceutical that are likely to produce side effects because those other targets are likely to affect other life processes and the inhibition/stimulation of those other target processes produce effects that may be dysfunctional. For example SRIs, the antidepressants that have largely replaced earlier antidepressants like the tricyclics and MAO inhibitors, are more specific for inter-neuronal transmitters, while the earlier generations inhibited muscarinic nicotinic receptors and histamine receptors which caused drowsiness and potentially serious effects on cardiac rhythms. In general, I prefer taking a medication that's effective at the lowest doses because that choice will be the most specific alternative, with the least potential for causing side effects.

One reason why many people believe that herbal remedies are safer is that they believe that pure pharmaceuticals are "chemicals". But what are plant materials if not chemicals? The recognition that some plants, eg. wheat grass, contain polyphenols, is at least a recognition that herbs may owe any efficacy they possess to 'chemicals'. As long as they aren't listed among the contraindications in the flyer that accompanies pharmaceuticals (or other references), I see no harm in eating sources of polyphenols like wheatgrass and taking chemotherapeutics at the same time. But I definitely would not substitute the former for the latter.
 

pinball1970

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@Mark header said
This reference is from an advocacy organization promoting certain ideas about herbal cancer treatments, not a peer-reviewed report of research into the subject. I gave up reading when I realized that it is a compendium of opinions, not observations.

The site is designed for the general public, more specifically those individuals who have cancer or who know someone who has it. If you drill down you can find the researchers and programmes.
Edit. Just to add they draw on resource like Cochrane data bases which provides most relevant meta analysis regarding herbal remedies.
 
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pinball1970

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This reference is from an advocacy organization promoting certain ideas about herbal cancer treatments, not a peer-reviewed report of research into the subject. I gave up reading when I realized that it is a compendium of opinions, not observations.
18 papers on this search from Chocrane.
 

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