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Chemistry and Human Health Division (VII)


Number: 700/2/98

Title: Natural and Unnatural Substances Related to Human Health

Coordinator(s): J.G. Topliss - Access to list of members

Completion Date: 2002 - project completed

To prepare an article for publication to show that in terms of human health it is too simplistic to regard all natural substances as good and all unnatural ones as bad - a widely held misconception by the general public. The article would be of a scholarly character but designed to interest and educate the general reader. It is intended to be illustrative and concise rather than encyclopedic in character. Initial publication is targeted for Pure and Aplied Chemistry which would permit reproduction in whole or in part or adaptation for other publications. The article could also be brought to the attention of the news media and could thus serve as a source for reporters interested in writing on this topic in magazines and newspapers.

There is a widespread belief on the part of the general public that natural substances are inherently superior to synthetic substances with regard to efficacy and safety in matters related to human health. This question is examined by reviewing the therapeutic use of drugs and herbal medicine preparations, the role of vitamins and nutrients and the effects of toxic substances. A comparison of the characteristics of natural and synthetic substances within these categories shows a similar range of favorable and unfavorable effects. It is apparent that molecular structure and dose determine the effect of substances on human health, not whether they are of natural or synthetic origin.

The article is structured to comprise the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Drug Substances
  3. Herbal Preparations
  4. Vitamins and Nutrients in Modern Nutrition
  5. Toxic Substances
  6. Conclusion

The article is multi-authored and has been refined through a number of drafts.

Project completed - Report published in Pure Appl. Chem. 74(10), pp. 1957-1985, 2002.

Last Update: 11 December 2002


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Page last modified 11 December 2002.
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