A Few Words About Being Natural

We are bombarded with marketing copy, everywhere, claiming that the contents are “natural”.  Of course, “organic natural” is even better. Natural ingredients, natural remedy, natural health, natural healing, natural flavor, natural whatever. These claims are ALWAYS made with an air of superiority, and always imply that natural is safer.

We, as consumers, prefer natural ingredients.  Including me.  Certainly I prefer natural as a general rule.  Long gone are the days when the polyester suit was cool.  Now it’s not cool unless it is “green” natural fiber cotton, wool, or even more fashionable, bamboo (really, bamboo clothing).

But “natural” is not always better.  It does NOT follow that natural ingredients automatically confer a superior product.  Or a safe product.

I have friends (yes, I really do, although I pay them to be my friends) who will not consume pharmaceutical products.  Excellent.  I fully support that sentiment.  We Americans consume far too many pharmaceutical products.  But these friends tell me that they take “natural” alternatives because they are safer.

When I question them about their reasoning, their rationale is that anything “natural” must be safer.  After all, “nature” wouldn’t harm us, would it?  I know, the fact that they are my friends has already called their judgment into question, so my following comments won’t surprise you.

Whenever I hear someone insist on the superior safety of a product due to its natural ingredients, I wince.  For a couple reasons:

First, virtually ALL pharmaceutical products were originally isolated and purified from “natural” sources.  Later, synthesis (in many cases) has actually resulted in removal of toxic contaminants that could not be removed during purification of the “natural” product.

Second, virtually ALL of the famous poisons in human history are “natural” – hemlock (killed Socrates), belladonna (Atropa belladonna, or deadly nightshade, with historical uses as a medicinal, cosmetic, and poison), and even the ubiquitous poison ivy, are classic examples.  There are many others.

Please don’t misunderstand: I am not an across-the-board advocate of synthesized pharmaceuticals or cosmetics or clothing or anything else.  Nor am I a lemming who blindly follows the superior safety connotation of “natural” ingredients.

So, the next time someone insists that their product is safer because it contains “natural” ingredients, think poison ivy’s natural, so what?  I wouldn’t drink hemlock.

Then, use your intellect to consider what the ingredients are, whether they add value or risk to the product.  When in doubt, look them up online.  Don’t be a lemming.

For those of you who are absolutely convinced that “natural” is always good, I have some very nice, completely organic, all-natural poison-ivy skin ointment for sale  ~(;-D)



Credit:  The image used for this post is a page from the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedia, published in Russia, 1890, from flickr.com

Thanks for visiting, and see you here again.  I appreciate your comments and questions.  Keep ‘em coming.  Please, “be excellent to one another.”

Best of health and success to you and your families.

Until next time, remember … you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose (unless you’re a boogor doctor :~D)

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I promise to continue to work hard to help empower you with knowledge: to improve your health and the health of your children. RF


  1. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

  2. Well said!
    “Then, use your intellect to consider what the ingredients are, whether they add value or risk to the product. When in doubt, look them up online.” -Great advice!!!

    Don’t be a lemming! :) (though they are cute little creatures)

  3. Uhhmmm…….do you think they’d use natural plants that are posionous in products? Come on be realistic seriously. I’m sorry but I don’t see that your agrument holds up. One natural products don’t use harmful natural ingerdents in thier products, like posion ivy. Two if a natural cleaner does have anything in it thats harmful it would be un-natural. Thanks for reading and use more common sense. Please!

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Carri,
      Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to comment.

      My apologies for not making my point more clearly.

      Of course, my point is not that natural products will include poison ivy. My point was that I am often shocked that smart, educated people simply accept a claim of a product being “natural” automatically means that it is safe, and that a “natural” product is always safer than a “synthesized” product such as a pharmaceutical. Both of those beliefs are false.

      Please do note that many “natural” products contain toxins, not intentionally, and certainly not by malicious intent. However, any traditional Chinese herbalist will tell you that the use of natural herbs should be taken with the same seriousness and care as one would use for prescription medicines. Virtually ANYthing can be unsafe when used inappropriately or in the wrong dose.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment.
      RF (boogs)

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