Traditional medicines in today’s world
Many natural medicines are based on ingredients - and evidence - learned from traditional medicines and ancient practices around the world. Herbs and plants have long been used to help ‘cure’ or ‘prevent’ illness. In fact, many pharmaceuticals today are based on man-made versions of naturally occurring compounds found in plants. 1a
But what about the natural medicines you find in your local pharmacy? How, for example, does a Flordis product differ from a traditional medicine?
What is traditional medicine?
The World Health Organisation defines traditional medicine as the knowledge, skills and practices based on theories and experiences of different cultures, used in the maintenance of health or for the prevention of disease. 2a
In some cases, these practices are supported by a wealth of literature, while other methods pass from generation to generation verbally. Some of the most widely used ‘traditional medicines’ include those originating from China, India and Africa. 2a, 2b
Plants and their active ingredients
The reason plants and herbs are effective in boosting health or treating disease, is because they are full of a whole host of different ingredients, all of which can have various different actions within the human body (good – and bad). 1b
According to herbal medicine practitioners, the effect of the whole plant is greater than its parts. 1c But conversely, using a plant in this way makes it difficult to provide an accurate dose of the active ingredient, or even know what all of the different ingredients are – and what effects they are having.
With natural medicines, such as Flordis, our researchers and scientists have thoroughly investigated the compounds within a plant, identifying a specific extract for use in our products, and ensuring that the same extract is used each time - with consistent levels of active ingredient. This helps us to ensure our products will deliver a health outcome consistent with our expectations.
The evidence for natural medicines
Often, natural supplements are based on generic evidence about a particular ingredient. This may come from literature surrounding traditional medicines – which has been developed over many years. At Flordis, while we may use this as a starting point, we always take care to do our own research and clinical trials – to ensure that we have evidence that is specific for our particular products.
From tablets to teas: different formats can affect outcomes
Some natural remedies are available in numerous forms. Let’s take turmeric as an example. You can take it as capsules, tablets, teas, pastes and extracts! But the method of taking it varies depending on the intended use. 3a How confusing! The effectiveness can also vary depending on how you ingest the ingredient. Take cranberry as another example. The active ingredients in cranberry (PACs) are shown to support urinary tract health and reduce recurrent cystitis. But these aren’t present in large enough amounts in cranberry juices. 4a The Flordis product, Ellura, on the other hand, takes care to ensure there is just the right amount of active ingredient in our capsules to have a beneficial effect. 5-8
At Flordis, we carry out an entire phase of research to find the optimal formulation that will deliver the active ingredients in an optimum way, to provide the desired health outcome.
1. Better Health Channel. Herbal medicine. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/herbal-medicine
2. Che CT et al. (2017) ‘Chapter 2 – Traditional Medicine’ in Badal S and Delgoda R (ed.) Pharmacognosy Fundamentals, Applications and Strategies. Elsevier, pp15-30.
3. Medical News Today. Which herbs help reduce inflammation? Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324368.php
4. Infection Control Today. Cranberry Capsules More Effective Than Juice for UTIs. Available at: https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/infectious-diseases-conditions/cranberry-capsules-more-effective-juice-utis
5. Howell AB et al., BMC Infectious Diseases 2010:94:1-11.
6. Uberos J et al., Open Access J of Clinical Trials 2012;4:31-38. Funded by the Carlos III Institute of Health for Clinical Research, Madrid, Spain
7. Bianco L et al., J Am Geriatr Soc 2012; 60:1180-1.
8. Botto H & Neuzillet Y., Scand J of Urol and Nephrol 2010; 44: 165-8.