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How To Shop For Sustainable Medicine

Learn How To Find Clean, Sustainable Medicine

Dr. Regina Hardin Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Regina Hardin on September 24, 2021

Medically reviewed by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology

When it comes to what you keep in your medicine cabinet, sustainability may be more relevant, and more important, than you realize. Opting for sustainable, clean medicine over other commercially available products can help you reduce your own impact on the environment while also boosting companies who are working to do the same thing.

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important as the current climate crisis deepens, and if you are feeling a little bit fuzzy about what, exactly, sustainability actually is, we have you covered.

Sustainability has to do with modes of living that meet present needs without making it difficult for future generations to meet their needs. A sustainable lifestyle is one that could proceed, exactly as it is, forever without running out of necessary resources.

That said, if you take this into consideration it may become frighteningly clear that there needs to be more sustainability in circulation than there is, and one way to promote sustainable living is to choose sustainable medicine and sustainable remedies over other, less sustainable options- even if those options have been tried and true for years.

What Makes Sustainability So Important?

Sustainability is a critical part of environmental protection. Living lifestyles that are not sustainable means that the resources we need in order to continue living the way we are now are being depleted, and eventually these resources will be completely gone.

Not only does this have an impact on the ability of future generations to meet their needs, but it has an immense impact on the planet itself.

Working to minimize negative impacts on the environment as well as working to emphasize behaviors that have a positive effect on the planet is a good first step towards becoming more sustainable on a larger scale, but this can still seem overwhelming on a more personal level.

Thus, one easy way to start taking steps in the right direction is to reconsider the purchase of medicines and other products that have made no effort to minimize their impacts on the environment, and instead opt for cleaner, more natural and sustainable alternatives that still get the job done.

Being such a critical resource, it’s important for those manufacturing it to think wellness for the long-run.

How Can I Find Sustainable Medicine? What Should I Look For?

If you understand why sustainability and sustainable medicine are important, but you have no idea where to start or how to get your foot through the door, you are in the right place.

Sustainable medicine is not necessarily as hard to find as it may seem — it just might require you to think outside the box and look away from all of the commercially available products that you pass in the drugstore.

One main way to start training yourself to look for more sustainable alternatives to traditional options is to keep your eyes peeled for medicines and remedies that draw on traditional methods of medicine.

For example, Ayurvedic medicinal practices have long been recognized for the many health benefits offered, and bringing attention back to these types of practices today may help boost the sustainable medicine movement. This is because many Ayurdevic practices incorporate the use of plants and herbs, and these natural remedies have sources that can be replenished.

Some Ayurdevic traditional medicines also make use of animal derivatives that can be acquired without killing the animal, and this contributes to sustainable medicine because if the animal is not being harmed in order for the derivatives to be acquired, the resources are not being depleted. Milk and honey are two examples of animal derivatives that can be obtained without the animals being killed.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Turning your focus towards the different types of complementary and alternative medicine as opposed to focusing solely on conventional forms of medicine can help you recognize the sustainable options that are out there.

It can be easy to get wrapped up in the world of medication that is readily available to you in most convenience stores, but doing your research and becoming more informed about alternatives to these conventional methods may open new doors of treatment for you.

Some types of traditional alternative medicine include:

  • Homeopathy
  • Acupuncture
  • Ayurveda
  • Naturopathy
  • Traditional Chinese medicine

Because many of these methods use herbal or other plant remedies as opposed to conventional medicines, they are considered more sustainable thanks to their natural sources. Dietary supplements, herbal medicines, and changes in nutrition or diet are other examples of ways that you can work to improve your health or lessen symptoms that you may be experiencing without contributing to a larger negative impact on the environment.

Homeopathy focuses on treating the person as a whole rather than just aiming to address a specific ailment, and many homeopathic remedies include a variety of plants and herbs that can work to relieve symptoms. Herbal remedies and supplements can be very effective and are available in many forms, including pills, capsules, powders, or liquids, and the practice of using herbal remedies as medicine is thousands of years old.

That said, it is important to keep in mind that you should always consult your doctor before trying out any new medicines, vitamins, supplements, and even herbal remedies that you have not tested before.

While these products are generally regarded as very safe, certain products can interact with some medications, and some products may not be suitable for people who have underlying health conditions. Because your doctor is familiar with your medical history, they will be able to help you better assess your personal situation and determine whether or not using a certain product may pose a risk to your health.

In the event that there is no risk to your safety or wellbeing by choosing herbal remedies over conventional medications, making this switch can make a big difference.

When you are shopping for medicines and other remedies, a good rule of thumb is to carefully read the ingredients list on the back of the product packaging, and if you find that a certain product contains mostly natural, clean ingredients, this may be a good indication that the product is a more sustainable alternative to other conventional medications.

It can also be helpful to keep an eye out for artificial inactive ingredients listed on product packaging, and to avoid products that contain these ingredients. Artificial ingredients can be included for a range of purposes, including for color, flavor, preservation, and more.

Not only are these artificial inactive ingredients unnecessary, but they can even cause adverse effects or allergic reactions in some people, and because they are synthetic, the production process is generally not environmentally friendly.

Being on the lookout for brands that are committed to the clean medicine movement will help steer you in the right direction. Look for products that contain the active ingredients you need without the artificial, inactive ingredients you don’t need.

The Bottom Line

We are currently experiencing a climate crisis, and as the crisis continues it is becoming more and more important to start paying attention to sustainability in everyday life.

While sustainability can seem like an overwhelming issue to tackle all at once, there are a wide range of small steps you can take in your everyday routine to make your personal lifestyle more sustainable.

One thing you can do right now is start opting for sustainable medicines as opposed to conventional forms of medicine. Sustainable medicine is medicine that makes use of cleaner, more natural ingredients like plants and herbs that can be replenished naturally.

Choosing medications that contain minimal ingredients, and medicines that do not contain much more than what you actually need, is a great way to cut down on your personal consumption of excess and unnecessary materials and substances.

In general, you can find sustainable medicine options by carefully reading the ingredients lists on any products you are considering purchasing, and you should ultimately end up bringing home the products with the most clean and natural ingredients.


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