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Synthetic Drugs vs. Herbal Anxiety Supplements


Big Pharma has a 99% failure rate with drug candidates when translating discoveries made at the lab bench to drugs in the clinic. According to Drug Discovery World, “Drug discovery is an expensive, slow, and risky business.” Even a life-saving miracle drug could easily take 12 years and several billion dollars until it enters the marketplace. A successful synthetic drug will pass through multiple stumbling blocks between its initial synthesis and through human trials, which is why the probability of one single drug obtaining FDA approval and becoming stock for the shelves at your local pharmacy is virtually zero. All of these factors contribute to why synthetic drugs are viewed by many as an inefficient process for treating disorders like anxiety. This post discusses the process of creating synthetic drugs like Xanax, and offers alternatives for synthetic drugs like kava, one of the most popular herbal anxiety supplements.

kava kava

Why Synthetic?

Synthetic chemicals (aka. compounds, molecules, structures, etc.) are different than natural products because they are not found in nature but instead are synthesized by medicinal chemists in pharmaceutical industry labs. Synthetics are desired because they can be made and patented and therefore become secure intellectual property and allow the Pharma who owns them to turn a tremendous profit. Most compounds made by natural means (plants, fungi, aquatic life) cannot be patented because they are freely available to anyone and therefore are uninteresting to PharmCos.

Big Pharma enjoys countless new drug potential and therefore limitless intellectual capital. But they are extremely limited by the money that is allocated to the research budget. Top Pharma chemists churn out countless different pre-drug-structures, yet a disconnect exists because Pharma does not have the research resources to test these vast chemical libraries on every disease in existence. As a result, they own huge libraries of synthetic chemicals while having very few disease pathways worked up in which to test them. For this reason, many drugs are sitting in freezers waiting to be discovered and put to medicinal use.

The Process of Creating a Synthetic Drug

The first step in drug discovery is hundreds of thousands of potential drugs are tested in one of those test-tube-based bodily pathways. Sometimes big drug companies even screen millions of potential drugs to try to find activity. As a loose rule if 100,000 compounds are screened only about 0.2%, or about 200, of those will be active against any given disease in that tube, on that day.

The ones that show the most potential as pre-drugs are called “leads” and they must pass rigorous guidelines before one even makes it to animal testing. Once those few hundred chemicals are run through tons of computer-based analyses, the remaining few drug leads are tested in cells, tiny units of the human body. Then if the molecules are potent enough they will be advanced into small animals such as mice, then rabbits, then possibly dogs or (most expensive monetarily as well as morally) primates.

If even one of those initial compounds that worked in the test tube is still effective after months or years of testing in different creatures they will next move forward to stringent 4-stage multiple year clinical trials.

Big Pharma continues to rely on their chemists to synthesize new compounds when they could be turning to Mother Nature for help. Compounds that are found in botanicals are already biologically active. Each plant is basically a mini chemical factory, producing compounds to help them survive and burgeon in their environment. Therefore if natural extracts, as opposed to man-made synthetics, are used the chance is already much higher that these will be active in the human body, since they are already active in nature.

Herbal Alternatives to Xanax or other Synthetic Drugs: Kava

Kava, or Piper methysticum, is a crop originally grown in the western Pacific region of the world, known by the indigenous people for centuries as a treatment for short-term social stress.

One class of compounds found in kava that are active in the human body are named kavalactones. At least 15 kavalactones with different structures have been identified, different ratios of them produce different effects, and they are found in kava plants in varying amounts (depending on the growing conditions). Extracts of kava can be tested on humans without all the costly preamble of cellular and animal testing. From an ethnobotanical stance, humans know kava to be effective as a mood enhancer from historical trial and error.

Using kava as an herbal medicine for anxiety helps calm your nerves by producing a mild feeling of euphoria and complete mind-body relaxation. This state of relaxation is due to the presence of kavalactones. The team at 1Hour Break has designed this product to be the optimal concentration and ratio of active natural chemicals to provide your mind a brief reprieve from the stresses of daily life.

In traditional Fiji culture people drink kava regularly at intervals throughout the day and is “part of the fabric of life.” 1Hour Break has brought this traditional beverage to the mass market as an alternative to prescription stress medications. Kava is cheaper to manufacture, therefore cheaper for the consumer and is also safer than synthetic chemicals, without the dangerous side effects. Time-tested by cultures in which the kava plant is indigenous, generations of use has made kava an even more rigorous form of clinical trial than synthetic drugs receive, meanwhile bypassing the inefficiency of Pharma companies.

Thompson, R et al. (2004). "Enhanced cognitive performance and cheerful mood by standardized extracts of Piper methysticum (Kava-kava)". Human Psychopharmacology. 19 (4): 243–250.

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