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Pure Appl. Chem., 2002, Vol. 74, No. 10, pp. 1957-1985


Natural and synthetic substances related to human health (IUPAC Technical Report)

J. G. Topliss*, A. M. Clark, E. Ernst, C. D. Hufford, G. A. R. Johnston, J. M. Rimoldi and B. J. Weimann

Abstract: 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.