Modern science has gone a lot way farther and in the medical field we can see the reflection of these advantages. Amazing inventions in modern medicine helps in saving a lot of lives daily. But AFAIK many medicines have side effects too. Even though these modern medicines help in suppressing or curing particular diseases, most of the modern medicines have long term side effects on human body. The more research scientist conduct, the more side effects are revealed(I am not sure about the percentage of researches they conduct to study about the side effects). These side effects are compelling some people to use other medicines to deal with them, thus making the conditions much worse.

Also as @Highly irregular has pointed, the pharmaceutical giants are aiming at profit rather than considering the effect of new medicines in the long term run. Actually they are not ready to wait, because they need to get the patents before their competitor. There can be thousands of medicines in medicinal market which are not undergone proper testing.

For a sustainable living culture which is close to nature modern medicine may not be suitable. I have heard about many traditional treatments which are far more effective in case of some of the common diseases and have no side effects on human body as well as on nature. Many people still follow their traditional way of treatments. Actually nature has resources which help to cure different diseases. What are all the examples of such treatments which are close to nature and proven effective and suitable for a sustainable living?

Edit: Modern medicines are also made from nature I agree with the answer @EnergyNumbers has given. But by 'close to nature' I want to emphasize on the plants and trees. So actually I was asking about the treatment techniques which are directly related to plants, trees, water, etc.

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    Most of the treatments that have no side effects suffer the slight problem that they have no positive effects either - homeopathy being the cliche example. "better than placebo" is actually a real barrier that many treatments fail to clear, including an awful lot that work for many people. They work purely through the placebo effect, although interestingly many don't work as well as "pure" placebos. ("new - pure placebo - no harmful additives!")
    – Móż
    Sep 2, 2014 at 9:42
  • Also, "close to nature" is exactly what most people want to get away from. I'd rather die in hospital at 90 than starve to death at 50 when my teeth erode away, unnatural though false teeth are.
    – Móż
    Sep 2, 2014 at 9:46
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    I'm also not really sure what answer the asker is expecting - surely not a list of every known or alleged "natural remedy"?
    – Flyto
    Sep 2, 2014 at 9:49
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    @SimonW that's exactly what they're asking (I quote): What are all the examples of such treatments It's a really bad question, unanswerable as well as unclear. But we have an answer, so it seems unreasonable to vote to close.
    – Móż
    Sep 2, 2014 at 9:50
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    "There can be thousands of medicines in medicinal market which are not undergone proper testing." - citation needed. In which jurisdictions does this happen?
    – 410 gone
    Sep 2, 2014 at 18:25

3 Answers 3


There is a name for natural medicines that work and are effective, and have undergone rigorous testing.

That name is: modern medicine.

There are several reasons why a lot of things you call modern medicines are highly refined, purified versions of naturally-occurring chemicals.

Putting aside for one moment the temporary issue of patenting (as most medicines are already out of patent, and all are after 20-25 years), there are lots of naturally-occurring chemicals that have medicinal properties. Unfortunately, nature being what it is, those chemicals come, in nature, bundled up with a bunch of other chemicals which do not contribute to the medicinal effect, and may impair it, or introduce other side effects. In addition, their concentration levels in nature varies hugely.

The process of refining and purification removes those excess chemicals, and leaves only the bit that we want: the bit that's effective, and has the least side effects.

The existence of side effects in synthesised or artificial medicines is by no means reason to use "natural" medicines: that's just self-defeating; it's just choosing to make yourself worse off than you need to be; it's wilfully ignoring the evidence, in favour of superstition. Natural medicines also have side effects. There are key differences between modern and natural medicines, but the existence of side-effects is not one of them. The key differences are:

  • it is much easier to regulate the dosage levels with modern medicines;
  • the effects, indications and contra-indications are far more closely studied in modern medicines;
  • the additional chemicals present are quantified, well-understood, and chosen to be non-harmful to the patient in modern medicines.

That's not to say that all is well in the world of modern medicine. There are huge problems there, with pharma companies cherry-picking evidence, concealing trial failures, putting profiteering before above human civilisation, and so on; but none of these give any net benefit to natural medicines.

  • A bit of confusion in the question, have edited it. And another thing to notice is that many modern medicines lack the long term testing criteria due to a number of negative factors such as competition for patents. Sep 2, 2014 at 17:51

Let thy food be thy medicine. Especially thy preventive medicine!

Much of the medicine people require is only needed because of an underlying lack of understanding of what's required to be healthy, or an inability to obtain it. If I understand correctly, most diabetes and heart disease, and much cancer too, is preventable through a healthy diet and regular exercise.

I agree with @EnergyNumbers that modern scientific techniques, through research and processing, can accentuate the benefits of naturally occurring substances. However, the pharmaceutical industry is mostly profit-making, which gives a conflict of interest to the research and marketing of it. This means there's a tendency to focus research on something patentable rather than, say, a simple plant extract. Thus, even when the science is done well, we're more likely to have a good understanding of synthetic rather than natural medicine.

If people were to fund research into cheaper, more readily available, minimally processed medicines, then we may find that we get good medicines for many ailments that are far more sustainable than highly-processed synthetic medicines. Synthetic medicines are sure to still remain important though!

I understand there are non-profit pharmaceutical organisations; perhaps someone would like to edit this to list a few?


I hope Ayurveda is one of it's kind. Most of the medicines used in Ayurveda are readily available from nature and it is based on Hindu Vedas. The ancient yogis and teachers have prepared these basic texts for Ayurveda.

Putting major points from wikipedia about this treatment technique,

Ayurveda (Sanskrit Āyurveda आयुर्वेद, "life-knowledge"; English pronunciation /ˌaɪ.ərˈveɪdə/) or Ayurvedic medicine is a system of Hindu traditional medicine, is native to the Indian subcontinent, and is a form of alternative medicine. The oldest known Ayurvedic texts are the Suśrutha Saṃhitā and the Charaka Saṃhitā. These Classical Sanskrit texts are among the foundational and formally compiled works of Ayurveda.

By the medieval period, Ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments.[3] Practices that are derived from Ayurvedic medicine are regarded as part of complementary and alternative medicine, and along with Siddha Medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine, forms the basis for systems medicine.

Ayurveda is at present well integrated into the Indian National health care system, with state hospitals for Ayurveda established across the country. In the United States, the practice of Ayurveda is licensed in complementary heath care.

Ayurvedic doctors regard physical and mental existence as well as personality as a unit, each element having the capacity to influence the others. One of the fundamental aspects of Ayurvedic medicine is to take this holistic approach into account during diagnosis and therapy.

Treatment and health protection While two of the eight branches of classical Ayurveda deal with surgery (Śalya-cikitsā, Śālākya-tantra), contemporary Ayurvedic theory tends to emphasise that building a healthy metabolic system, attaining good digestion and proper excretion lead to vitality.Ayurveda also focuses on exercise, yoga, and meditation. To maintain health, a Sattvic diet can be prescribed to the patient.

Concepts of Dinacharya are followed in Ayurveda; dinacharya stresses the importance of natural cycles (waking, sleeping, working, meditation etc.) for a healthy living. Hygiene, too, is a central practice of Ayurvedic medicine. Hygienic living involves regular bathing, cleansing of teeth, skin care, and eye washing.

Natural medical substances used

Ayurveda stresses the use of plant-based medicines and treatments. Plant-based medicines are derived from roots, leaves, fruits, barks and seeds such as cardamom and cinnamon. William Dymock and co-authors summarized hundreds of plant-derived medicines in 19th century, along with the prevalent myth, stories, uses, microscopic structure, chemical composition, toxicology and commerce in British India. Some animal products may also be used, for example milk, bones, and gallstones. In addition, fats are used both for consumption and for external use. Minerals, including sulphur, arsenic, lead, copper sulfate and gold are also consumed as prescribed.This practice of adding minerals to herbal medicine is known as rasa shastra.

In some cases, alcohol was used as a narcotic for patients undergoing operation. The advent of Islam introduced opium as a narcotic.Both oil and tar were used to stop bleeding.Traumatic bleeding was said to be stopped by four different methods: ligation of the blood vessel; cauterisation by heat; using different herbal or animal preparations locally which could facilitate clotting; and different medical preparations which could constrict the bleeding or oozing vessels. Various oils could be used in a number of ways, including regular consumption as a part of food, anointing, smearing, head massage, prescribed application to affected areas,[24] and oil pulling. Also, liquids may be poured on the patient's forehead, a technique which is called shirodhara.

According to some sources, up to 80 percent of people in India use some form of traditional medicine, a category which includes Ayurveda. There are many Ayurvedic hospitals in India . This is widely used in countries like Nepal and Srilanka.

The doctors in this field is known as 'Vaidya' and most of them have followed this profession traditionally from their family. I am residing in Kerala- south of India, which is one of the major state where these Vaidyas are active. Many people visits Kerala only for getting this treatment from these traditional doctors who are studying human values from their father or grandfather rather than making profits out of the service. Also there are not much competitions among them. Here in India, the most competitions are taking place among the modern hospitals who are running behind the profit without considering human values.

One example, for fever(fever is not a disease though), I prefer to drink boiled water with leaves of holy basil(one of the major herb in the Ayurvedic treatment) rather than modern medicinal tablets like 'paracetamol','Anacin',etc. (Also one doubt, why so many tablets for fever if one is perfect). There are many such practices using herbs in here but I can't list all of them. I will try to include some of them if I get a chance, but not sure whether such plants or herbs are available outside Kerala or India.

I just wanted to introduce the Ayurveda to the community as it is so close to nature and suitable for sustainable living. It include not only the treatment, but also instructions about the prevention methods of diseases and food habits to be followed. Modern medicines is good for many diseases, but rather than emphasizing on the prevention methods, it mainly focus on treatment and the case is different with Ayurveda.

One more additional info about Ayurveda, first plastic surgery in the history of medicine was done by Susrutha, one of the guru(teacher) who wrote the books for Ayurveda.

P:S: I am not an expert in this field, just sharing the a little bit of information I know, which is one of the aim of SE.

Another such example can be urine therapy.

  • Perhaps you should be specific in your question that you're not asking for things that cure diseases, you just want alternatives to medicine.
    – Móż
    Sep 2, 2014 at 22:46
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    @Mσᶎ perhaps they should be specific in their question that they're here to make a point, not to seek answers to a question ;-)
    – Flyto
    Sep 8, 2014 at 8:40

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