Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Natural Logic of Health Care

By Wendy Daniels

It’s time to debunk the “natural is healthy and good and non-natural is unhealthy and bad” myth.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

As I opened a loaf of bread today to make my lunchtime sandwich, I noticed a label: “There’s no artificial colours or flavours and no E-numbers in our bread”. The bread manufacturer clearly wants me to know that there are no unnatural substances in their bread. By assuring me that these things are lacking, they are telling me that their product is natural and therefore, by implication, good for me. They tell me this because they think I want to know it, and they think I want to know it because they understand that consumers associate natural with being good and healthy, and non-natural or artificial with being bad or unhealthy.

The idea that “natural” is good for us is all-pervasive. It can be found in advertising everywhere, from toiletries and cosmetics to cleaning products and food items. Presumably it’s what also underpins the thinking behind naturopathy – nature’s natural remedies must be good for us. Why? Because they are natural!

But is this entrenched notion a fallacy? Is it reasonable to assume that natural products, by virtue of their naturalness, are necessarily healthier and better for us? You can consider this idea logically using this well-known example of deductive reasoning:

Premise 1: All men are mortal.

Premise 2: Socrates is a man.

Conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

If the first premise is correct and...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.