Do doctors know enough about herbal medicine?

Friday 16th April, 2010

does your gp know about herbal medicineA survey in the US indicates that doctors are poorly informed about herbal medicine and they think their patients are too.

Over 1,000 subscribers to Drug and Therapeutic Bulletin (DTB) were questioned on their knowledge of herbal medicine. The response rate was just over 14 per cent with 80 per cent of those respondents being family doctors.

More than 85 per cent of respondents felt that the public were ‘poorly informed’ about herbal medicine while healthcare professionals rated themselves only slightly better.

On the question of how well informed doctors are, three out of four said they were ‘poorly informed’ while half of all respondents described their knowledge of herbal medicine has either ‘poor’ or ‘quite poor’. Nine out of ten respondents admitted their knowledge of herbal medicine was ‘much poorer’ than that of prescription drugs.

A significant proportion of doctors who responded were worried that patients would take herbal medicines without telling them however more alarming was that despite these concerns few doctors actually asked their patients about it.

Dr Ike Iheanacho, DTB editor, commented on the findings: “It’s obviously worrying that doctors in general seem to know so little about herbal medicines, given the widespread use of such products.”

It is important for patients who visit a herbal medicine practitioner that they inform both therapist and GP about their treatments so they can work together to ensure there are no interactions between medicines.



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