What Is the Difference Between Organic and Synthetic Drugs?

For centuries people used herbs to treat ailments, prevent diseases, relieve pain and to remedy a host of other physical and psychological health problems. Many cultures have relied on herbs and natural drugs, because they have seen the medical wonders these substances can do. In the past, all medicines were natural, and the body can process herbs with fewer toxic or adverse side effects than with the synthetic drugs that are more often prescribed today.

Synthetic drugs are created. They can be structurally identical to natural substances, but are designed to create some advantage, or to solve a problem that their natural counterparts present. Semi-synthetic drugs contain a natural aspect, but are manufactured to accomplish a specific purpose that the natural substance alone cannot accomplish. An example of a natural substance that has semi-synthetic and synthetic counterparts is opium. Opium is a natural substance found in the poppy plant. For centuries people used it to relieve pain and to alter the user’s state of consciousness. Opiates are natural alkaloids, such as morphine and codeine. Opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone are synthetic, but they are chemically similar to opiates.

As our knowledge expands concerning synthetic substances and how to use them, we are experiencing both the advantages and disadvantages of synthetic drugs. These drugs can be tailored to target certain symptoms. They can be modified to decrease the risk of abuse. They can work faster than most natural substances. And they can be made consistently, so the products are always the same.

Unfortunately, synthetic drugs can also be harder on the body, which means they cause more adverse effects. They are much simpler than the complex natural substances, and they only contain a handful of the helpful components that natural substances contain. Synthetic drugs can be extremely addictive. Illegal drugs can also by tailored not to show up on drug tests, or their chemical makeup can be altered to thwart detection from enforcement, which often helps criminals stay one step ahead of the law. Illicit synthetic drugs made in illegal labs can contain dangerous compounds that put users at greater risk.

Insurance usually covers synthetic medications, and it is the go-to in mainstream medical care, because they seem safe and predictable. Unfortunately, this view can prevent people from exploring natural options that may seem less effective, but that would ultimately cause less harm to and strain on the body. Whether a natural or synthetic drug is more advantageous or preferable depends on the individual, but everyone should research their options and choose those that are best for their individual needs.

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