Nutraceuticals or Pharmaceuticals?2022-07-16

There are no incurable diseases, only the lack of will. There are no worthless herbs, only the lack of knowledge.


Both nutraceuticals (nutritional supplements, diets) and pharmaceuticals (medications) can have profound effects on gene expression, which is where genes and environment interact. It has always surprised me how our cutting-edge biomarker studies, when used to interrogate databases of compounds for matches for new drug development or for repurposing, identified among top hits compounds present in plants and remedies used in traditional medicines on various continents. Nutritional approaches have time and longitudinal follow-up on their side (sometimes millennia), which can make up for the science-based more targeted approach of pharmaceuticals. Conversely, pharmaceuticals have had in general too short a time in use to see if they have unexpected long-term detrimental effects. Herbs and foods may contain many different compounds, which may be a problem or a strength. They need to be studied scientifically and understood with the latest technology. We have done that, for example, for the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which seems to be a broadly-effective brain health optimizer.

Patients may prefer nutraceuticals and nutritional approaches, in addition to or in lieu of medications, especially for preventive purposes or when there is a reluctance or stigma associated with admitting to having a medical condition. Some do it for philosophical reasons, feel it is a more natural way of optimizing health. The biomarker reports that we provide for mental health conditions list side by side the best nutraceutical and pharmaceutical matches and choices for a particular patient, given their biology.

In the end, like with everything, a hybrid approach is best, using nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals, and it can vary at different stages of life, for different phases of the diseases, as the scientific knowledge accumulates. That is the essence of precision health.

Live. Happier. Longer.