Chemicals or Naturals

This post continues a long-standing conversation that I’ve been having over many years over whether to choose chemicals or naturals in health. I’m hoping those concerned will read it, but in particular to continue that discussion. While I don’t expect to reach any conclusions immediately, I would like to make some headway, lay a few foundations and move on.

The first idea is to contrast the use of chemicals against natural (bio) methods in farming. While no expert in this matter, I have an empirical understanding of what is at stake.

Second, chemicals move through from the farming process (both animal and crops) into the human food chain (our bodies) and those that get back into or stay in the environment.

I will start by giving my opinion

We should be reducing the number of chemicals used in all aspects of life and wherever possible resorting to natural means of achieving satisfactory results. I want to provide evidence of bio farmers who testify on the results obtained with bio methods. Research needed.

Bio food is better for us and avoiding ingesting chemicals is a good thing, chemicals used in farming remain on the goods produced. Bio foods grow naturally, taking the proper time to develop.

Our dependency on chemicals and therefore pharmaceutical companies is a bad thing. While not justified here by any hard evidence or scientific data, my argument is; why be dependent on chemical companies when we can do just as well on our own. Remember the good old days before the chemicals? What were the levels of production?

The justification for chemistry in farming is to reduce cost and increase volume. But this is a post-war policy when we needed to feed the millions. Now we have moved to the other extreme and have such a wide choice of exotic and non-seasonal produce as part of the consumer society that there is a sense of the obscene.

Justification for the use of chemicals

We are dependent on chemicals for instance for packaging. But we are dependent here because packaging is required to enable goods to travel long distances and to keep products fresh longer. Avoiding these long distances would remove the need at least some of this packaging. The solution is to produce goods and consume them locally, with the added benefit of reducing transport costs and pollution. (I’m sure Prince Charles advocated this in his plans for ecovillages).

Other goods are dependent on the petrochemical industry. Let’s look at those we could eliminate. As long as we have the motivation and are not “scared” of the backlash of the chemical companies we can move away from this lifestyle, and they can evolve and invest in bio methods.

Life was harder in the past and advances have been made; there was a much greater emphasis on repairing and recycling rather than replacing. If there is a high proportion of chemical goods in products today, then stepping back from the consumer society would reduce their consumption. And this in itself is a whole new concept!


What investment is there in products not based on petrochemicals, since petrochemicals are typically not biodegradable? Is there even any justification to do so, or should we go on filling rubbish dumps with unusable waste? Is it sufficient to say that there is already a high amount of recycled waste available? What are the economics of recycling? Regardless even of the economics, it just makes more sense to recycle. Our resources are limited, and as such, it is suicide to do otherwise than recycle. See more discussion here on ecology.

Chemicals or naturals

Medicine is the hardest and most controversial area.

Chemicals are the central ingredient to “traditional” medicine. However, there are alternatives: homoeopathy and Chinese medicine to name but two. And what is notably different about these approaches? It is the preventative and holistic side which means that instead of waiting to get ill and then treating with chemicals, there are things that we can do to prevent illness or disease. And that doesn’t just mean taking other chemicals, but rather to take a step back and to look at our overall state rather than individual diseases in isolation.

Once ill, however, then the only way to treat a patient is through modern medicine, and we can probably be thankful that it exists in many cases. But let’s not rely on it solely and let’s move, over time, to a complete approach so that we can reduce our dependency.

Chemistry in Europe

Second, look at the evolution of the chemist in Europe. Was the chemist in Western Europe not far more like the apothecary of the middle ages and undoubtedly like the herbal doctors in China. What is the significant change here? It is the intervention and apparition of chemical companies. And the justification for this is to produce the right dose in the right quantities in the same controlled way. Cannot an apothecary or chemist do this given the correct information as he did up until the 1950’s?

Why this revolution which has played into the hands of chemical companies? Or is the argument an economic one of those who seek to make a profit out of producing chemicals? Do we need a choice of 15 different paracetamols? Do we need to treat all and every ailment and do we need the huge selection and dependency on medication that it entails? And what role do doctors now have in preventative medicine? Very little; their primary purpose is to prescribe and are highly solicited by the very chemical companies that do nothing to promote holistic medicine because it is counterproductive for them.


While there may be justification for chemicals in some or even many circumstances, they cannot be justified in all cases. Government or economic policy must not favour exclusively curative medicine and the focus that it puts on medication and the attention that it takes away from looking at the whole being. There is a huge following now of eastern methods by people who are looking at the relationships between body, mind and spirit.

Synthesis is not necessarily the route. Analysis and the use of raw materials can be sufficient if the right information exists. Chemical companies are not motivated to produce biodegradable products and should be held accountable for the cost t the environment.

The challenges are not just economic. There are moral, social and ethical issues at stake. But most of all, we should be thinking of future generations. What kind of a world do we want to pass on? In 100 years, the population has increased, and our consumption rate has soared. This course is not sustainable and if not corrected; will correct itself.

If the planet cannot support us and if we chop off the branch we are sitting on, then nature will take its course. Is immune disease a symptom of our meddling with medication and failing to promote self-healing? Is cancer a result of a mental state as much as a physical one? All these questions are worth the research funding since it is our future at stake. When will we take a responsible and caring view of our planet and respect what it provides for us in reasonable quantities?

All these questions and more

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