The hormetic pharmacy: The future of natural products and man-made drugs in disease prevention and treatment

Edward J. Calabrese, Mark P. Mattson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


This chapter proposes a new look at the modern pharmacy of natural products and man-made drugs. It shows that local pharmacies have been dispensing drugs based on hormesis for many decades. Among drugs that act via the hormetic dose response are those that combat anxiety and depression, make bones stronger, grow hair thicker, enhance cognitive function, and lessen pain. These drugs are some of the staples of the industry, permitting millions of people to live more normal and better lives. This chapter also shows that even when commonly used drugs such as antibiotics are administered to kill bacteria, they act hormetically at low doses and may be of concern because they can cause harmful bacterial colonies to grow. This is the case for antitumor drugs as well. Thus, the modern pharmacy is really a hormetic pharmacy, but this is really just the beginning. The currently unfolding future is one in which the biomedical and pharmaceutical giants will be developing so-called hormetic mimetics-drugs that can induce the normal adaptive pathways seen in the thousands of studies demonstrating hormesis but without exposing individuals to toxic doses of chemicals, ionizing radiation, extreme heat, or hard-to-maintain caloric restriction regimens. Screening chemicals based on their ability to activate, at subtoxic doses, specific adaptive cellular stress response pathways is a promising approach for drug development. The future pharmacy will be enhanced by research strategies and clinical practices that adopt hormetic principles and applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHormesis: A Revolution in Biology, Toxicology and Medicine
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9781607614951, 9781607614944
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Antidepressants
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Dietary supplements
  • Dose and frequency
  • Nutriceuticals
  • Pharmaceutical industry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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