There has been a battle going on between herbal or alternative medicines and prescription medications ever since the beginning of prescription medicines were first produced. Those who have always been advocates for herbal medicines have argued through the years about how the herbal medicines are far safer and have the same medicinal powers as prescriptions. To try and understand the battle you need to understand the difference between the two. Herbal medications are taken only from plants whereas the prescription medications are generally made by using synthetic chemicals. When it comes to which is best, it truly is hard to say since both of them have their good sides and bad sides.
When it comes to cost, more times than not the herbal medicines are going to cost a lot less than the medicines that are purchased via prescriptions. However, the prescription medications are generally stronger than the herbal counterparts, so if a person were to lean towards the herbal medicines and have to take them over a long period of time you will still have to be paying a good amount of money even for herbal medications.
As long as the prescription medications are used exactly as directed, their safety is extremely high and there shouldn't be anything to worry about. The same goes with the herbal medicines. So the importance is following directions because if either forms of medication directions are not followed a person is bound to run into some problems. However, in some cases prescription medicines can be considered safer since they have standardized amounts of chemicals in them and there are no random ingredients as there might be in an herbal medicine which could increase the probability of the patient having problems. The reason for this it that a lot of herbal medicines can contain a variety of different impurities, something prescription medications don't. When taking herbal medicine you could be exposed to pesticides, contaminated water in the soil the herbs are grown in and other unknown chemicals that might have gotten into the plant itself.
The results you might get from both herbal and prescription medication is going to vary from person to person. Herbal medicines though may vary even more because they are not regulated or as uniform as the prescription medicines. Prescriptions come in the exact dose with a certain amount of potency in each prescription. With herbal medicine there are a lot of factors that might influence the herbs potency like weather and the soil are two such influences. Since the potency is weaker in the herbal medicines the results are going to be slower as well.
Both prescription and herbal medicines run risks of there being side effects which can cause adverse types of reactions as well as allergic reactions. Generally the prescription medications will cause far more severe side effects than herbal medications because prescription medicine is more potent than the herbal medicines. But then again the prescription medicines have a far better outline and warning system than what comes with the herbal medicines.
Both of these can have their own affect on the environment as well. If either are done incorrectly they can impact the environment. For instance, if herbal medicines are farmed improperly they can cause depletion of the soil, over harvesting as well as habitat loss. The prescription medicines can sometimes cause hazardous waste, use up a lot of energy supplies and cause more trash with their packaging.