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Interview With Dr. David Kingston

January 22, 2013
David Kingston


Last month, Dr. David Kingston delivered the Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lecture in the Science of Complementary Health Therapies. Immediately following his talk, titled Natural Products: Drugs and Medicines for All Reasons and All Seasons, he sat down with NCCAM Deputy Director Jack Killen to discuss the future of natural products research. Highlights are posted here. You can view the full interview on NCCAM's YouTube channel.

Learn more about the Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lectures in the Science of Complementary Health Therapies and watch archived lectures.

Dr. Kingston Speaks About Natural Products Research

[1min 53sec]


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 Dear Dr. Kingston,Why is it necessary to extract the active ingredient in the natural product when it can be safely used in food consumed by the indigenous population? For instance, why extract the active chemicals in chocolate with a view towards developing a drug? Please explain the rationale to an ignorant fellow chemist and taxpayer.Sincerely,Ron P.S. The CDC lists poor nutrition among the four most common causes of chronic disease which accounts for 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year. In 2010 the total costs of cardiovascular diseases in the United States were estimated to be $444 billion. Treatment for these diseases accounts for about $1 of every $6 spent on healthcare in this country.

@Ronald Gumbs - We passed along your question to NCCAM Progam Officer Dr. John Williamson.


Consuming the source of the bioactive chemicals may provide a viable option. However, in order to understand the activity of the natural product, it would be necessary to assess the activity of the individual components within the product.  For example, natural products generally contain hundreds of chemical constituents. It is possible that one or more of these constituents may produce a positive biological effect. But, the potential for other constituents to cause negative effects must also be considered, e.g., long term toxicities, drug interactions, metabolic disorders, increasing susceptibility to certain diseases such as cancer, and other potential problems.  By isolating and purifying the sought after compound, we can eliminate the contamination of other potentially bioactive components that may be present in the natural product.


In general, in drug form we can accurately predict a dose that provides the most effectiveness with the least safety concerns, while to achieve the same results using the natural product, and not just a specific component, can be unpredictable.

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