A confusion exists in the consumer market regarding the difference between natural and organic products. A further complication is created by herbal and ayurvedic product categories. While it is not easy to differentiate between all these terms, which is made even more confusing since their meaning often over laps, a simplified classification of these categories of products so that an informed choice can be made.
Herbal products are made of plant extracts, plant roots, leaves, etc and used as per their medicinal properties. The word herbal is derived from the mediaeval Latin liber herbalis (“book of herbs”) Herbal products are free of chemicals. However, pesticides may have been used in their growing.
Ayurveda is medicinal science which includes use of herbs as well as heavy metals like gold, silver, copper, tin, mercury, sulphur, animal extracts, etc. Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskr it word Āyurveda which means ‘life-knowledge’. Ayurveda products may not be completely natural and may sometimes contain toxic levels of metals.
Natural products are made from plants and minerals that occur in nature and have not been produced in a laboratory and are not man made. However, pesticides and chemical fertilizers might have been used to enhance their growth. Generally speaking, a product claiming to be natural is free of common chemicals such
as artificial fragrances, colorants, preservatives, and other synthetic additives. To understand if a product is natural, its detailed ingredient list needs to be checked. There, however, is no regu lation on the word ‘natural’. A product being claimed as natural may have as low as 1% natural ingredients.
Organic products are also made from natural ingredients but they are grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides. Organic is a labelling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. These methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical
practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used. G enerally, organic products do not contain any genetically modified ingredients or petrochemicals. Unless required by law, organic
products do not undergo any animal testing and are minimally processed. Organic products have to be certified on the label ‘made with organic ingredients’, which implies the product is made with at least 70% organic ingredients.