In traditional and widely used medicine (sometimes known as allopathic medicine) as practiced by many Western-educated doctors, the reliance on lab-created medications is widespread and accepted pretty much without reservation. There has been a movement, though, that is advocating for more homeopathic-oriented remedies and therapies. In this regard then, one must ask the question "Natural vs. prescription medicine: What risks are you taking?"
The question above tends to become an either/or proposition instead of what it really should be: which is what range of medicines, both natural and man-made, can be the most efficacious when it comes to healing the maladies afflicting the human condition? After all, there seems to be real and verifiable evidence that many substances found in nature have actual healing properties.
This insight into natural medicines, which has been gained sometimes only as a result of grudging acceptance by many medical practitioners educated and trained in classic Western medical schools, can be at once both helpful and yet also harmful. This is because some who advocate for an almost complete use of nature's substances in treating ill health fail to accept that some illnesses are not susceptible to such medicinal compounds.
Surely, there are any number of illnesses or injuries which are better served through use of health foods, aroma therapies, meditation, relaxation techniques and mixtures and compounds of various roots, grasses, seeds and the like. But is every illness treatable through homeopathic remedies and therapies? Most medical professionals and dispassionate observers would say that this probably isn't the case.
Additionally, the use of natural medicines can carry its own hazards, especially when it comes to overuse or misuse of such substances. There are cases of physical harm resulting from excessive supplementation with any number of natural compounds. Some amino acid admixtures, when taken in large doses, can lead to sometimes-fatal outcomes. This is just as true, though, when it comes to the taking of prescription medications; some of which can be extremely harmful if not taken exactly as directed.
Overall, almost every honest physician will say that people in the West have a worrying tendency to resort to prescription or even over-the-counter (OTC) packaged medicines at every turn. In actuality, they should be trying to examine their conditions and even their lives from a more holistic viewpoint.
The benefits of such a holistic approach - looking at the body as a whole -- is that a person who's beset with an illness or malady and his or her medical practitioner (whether allopath, osteopath or homeopath) can sit down, do a critical examination of all the factors impacting health and then devise an intelligent and concerted plan aimed at alleviating sickness and restoring health.
Because of this need, natural medicines can play an important role in the treatment of illness. As to whether or not they can play an exclusive role in such treatment, no honest practitioner of medicine of any type could really say that it is true. But one must be careful in not assigning excessive physical risk to natural medicines that doesn't exist; especially when the risks of lab-created medicines are so well known.
Unfortunately, those advocates of natural medicine fail to be as understanding in their own adherence to nature's substances as the one, true path to good health. No person suffering from possible metastatic cancer, for example, should be expected to forego medical treatment therapies or surgeries which have proven effective for a vast number of people solely to experiment with natural medicines in hopes that they'll be even more effective. Most studies haven't proven that to be the case, unfortunately.
In the final analysis, it has to be said that the risks being taken when trying - initially - natural medicines to treat many ailments are somewhat less than when taking some mixture cooked up in a lab. Its effectiveness depends on the ability of a person to obey directions exactly for its use, let alone how a person may react to that medication.
Happily, if the natural remedies being taken are not proving themselves effective, there is a fall back to more traditional treatments and therapies available. And when it comes to treatment of illness, the best method will always be the one which initially relies the least on extreme medical regimes.