Have you ever noticed how people talk about “natural” things? There’s usually an air of superiority associated with that term. It’s as if “natural” things are better than the alternative. And what is the alternative to “natural” anyway? Is everything that’s not natural “unnatural” or “artificial” or “synthetic” or “faux”?
Does everyone define “natural” in the same way? What does it take for a “natural” product to cross the line and become “unnatural”?
When it comes to menopause, it’s all about getting exactly what you want so that you can manage your menopause your way. And the first step toward that goal is to make sure your definitions for common terms are accurate. If not, you could be limiting your options needlessly. One of the areas of common misconception lies in the definitions of the words, “natural” and “synthetic.”
So let’s dissect these terms and clarify their meanings.
What goes through your mind when you hear the word “natural”? Did you come up with “safe,” “pure,” “without artificial ingredients,” “better,” “from the earth,” “not altered”?
Not everybody agrees with all of those.
By definition, “natural” means a substance found in nature in its original form. So, when we apply that definition to products for managing your menopause, it includes plants, parts of a plant that are pulverized or powdered, and herbs that are compressed into tablets or capsules. But what about a pharmaceutical product? Is it possible for a natural substance that’s taken to a lab and made into a pharmaceutical product to be “natural”? Or is the mere fact that it was altered in a lab enough to make it “synthetic”?
There’s actually a pharmaceutical estrogen product, called Cenestin, that is precisely what I’ve just described. It’s an estrogen pill made from all natural ingredients and transformed into a pill by a pharmaceutical company. So, is it still natural?
And what if I said that a natural pharmaceutical product could be of either plant or animal origin? Would you balk at that? Do you think of plants as natural and animals as unnatural? Does something have to come directly from the earth to qualify as “natural”?
The word, “natural” comes from the word, “nature.” Aren’t animals found in nature? And if animals aren’t “natural,” are they “synthetic” or “artificial?” And what about animal products, such as an egg from a chicken, honey from a bee, milk from a cow, or urine from a horse?
What if you take an animal product to a lab and change its state of origin from liquid to solid? Does that make it “unnatural”?
There’s actually a pharmaceutical estrogen product that fits that description. It’s called Premarin, and it’s horse urine. Pre–mar–in stands for pregnant mare urine. Face it: a pregnant mare has a lot of estrogen in her urine!
Would you think I’d gone completely bonkers if I suggested that the word, “natural” can also refer to something that is of neither plant nor animal origin, and is not even found in nature? Have you heard of “bioidentical hormones?” Most people consider them to be “natural,” but are they?
“Bioidentical” is defined as a substance made with molecules that are identical to the molecules in the human body. So, they’re of neither plant nor animal origin, and they’re not found in nature. But, they are more similar to your own molecules. Does that make them more natural or less natural?
What it boils down to is this: A “natural” substance may be natural to the earth or natural to the human body. Plants and animals are natural to the earth. Bioidentical hormones are natural to your body.
But are molecules that are identical to your body’s molecules better?
What about the word, “synthetic?” What does it mean? Are you thinking, “artificial,” “fake,” “poorer quality,” “unnatural,” “not from the earth”?
Well, the actual definition of “synthetic” is any product that results from combining substances together. So it focuses on how the product was created, not on its components.
If you mix together a variety of natural products, such as raw nuts, you’re synthesizing something. Does that convert them from “natural” to “synthetic”? If you gather a bunch of different types of herbs and combine them into a menopause formulation, is the resulting product still “natural” or is it “synthetic”?
Is it possible for something to be both “natural” and “synthetic?”
If a pharmaceutical company converts a “natural” substance into a pharmaceutical product, are they transforming it from its “natural” state to an unnatural, artificial state by virtue of its synthesis? And if it is synthetic, does that make it undesirable?
The fact is that it is possible for a product to be both “natural” and “synthetic.”
What if a lab takes products that are completely man-made and combines them to create a new, unique product that doesn’t exist in nature but that serves a critical purpose for managing your menopause? Is that product “artificial” or “unnatural”? Does the fact that it’s “synthetic” make it unacceptable?
There’s a product for osteoporosis that is precisely what I’ve just described. It’s called Evista.
Wasn’t it easier before you read this article, and you just used the words, “natural” and “synthetic” without thinking about what they really mean … or don’t mean? Well, it may have been easier, but it was also more limiting.
And when it comes to these definitions, the only opinion that matters is your own. You get to decide where to draw the line between “natural” and “synthetic.” Or, do you even need to draw a line? If a product works for your menopause, do you really care whether it’s “natural” or “synthetic”?
My goal is to help you get exactly what you want to manage your menopause your way. And that’s not possible if you use words that people define differently.
You might notice that I didn’t provide answers to many of the questions I posed. And that’s because you get to provide your own answers. Your definitions for these words govern the answers. I just want you to think about the factors that affect your definitions.
I want you to understand that, rather than using common terms with inconsistent meanings, just ask for exactly what you want. Or state precisely what you don’t want. There’s no need to argue over the correct definitions for these common terms. “Natural” and “synthetic” are whatever you consider them to be for purposes of managing your menopause your way.
So, if you only want herbs in their natural form, say so. If you want a pharmaceutical product that consists only of plants, say so. If you’re open to animal products as well as plant products, say so. If you want bioidentical hormones, say so. If you want whatever it takes to guarantee a positive effect on you menopause issues, regardless of whether it’s “natural” or “synthetic,” say so.
My goal is for you to get your desired result, not get stuck in an abyss of what’s “natural” and what’s “synthetic.”
This article, written by Dr. Barbara Taylor, was first published on http://justvibehouston.com/, on March 14, 2017.