Health Care Providers Lack Knowledge of Herbal Medicines

April 8, 2010

2 Min Read
Health Care Providers Lack Knowledge of Herbal Medicines

LONDONHealth care providers believe most people, including themselves, lack knowledge about herbal medicines, and further think patients have a misplaced faith in the efficacy of such products, according to a new survey, published online April 8, 2010. Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) conducted an online survey among its subscribers, with doctors submitting 80 percent of the 164 responses.

In examining their opinion of the publics interactions with herbal medicines, 81.6 percent said they believe the general public has a generally positive attitude toward herbal medicine. However, 86.3 percent said the general public is poorly informed about herbal medicines, and 71.8 percent responded affirmatively to the question, Do you think that the general public has a misplaced faith in herbal medicines? Perhaps not surprisingly, 77.3 percent of respondents think patients will take herbal medicines without informing them; only 12.9 percent said they always ask patients whether they take herbal medicines, while 55 percent never ask or do so only occasionally.

When asked about their own attitudes and knowledge, the majority of respondents (75.3 percent) said herbal medicines are helpful in some circumstances, but a similar number think doctors are poorly informed about herbal medicines. In fact, 46.6 percent confessed their own knowledge and understanding of herbal medicines is very poor or quite poor. That lack of understanding extends to the regulatory arena, with 74.4 percent knowing nothing or very little about how herbal medicines are regulated; that said, 84.1 percent believe herbal medicines are not well regulated.

Its obviously worrying that doctors in general seem to know so little about herbal medicines, given the widespread use of such products, Ike Iheanacho, M.D., DTBs editor, said in a news release. The fact that few doctors make a point of asking patients whether they are taking herbal medicines raises further safety concerns. Similarly unsettling is that even when doctors dont know the effects of an herbal medicine a patient is taking, many wont try and look these up.

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