Herbal Medicines: Are Doctors Aware of Patients' Usage?

In a recent study made by a group of medical practitioners in health clinics in the United States, it was noted that there is a higher rate of herb usage by the new Hispanic immigrants than those US-born Hispanics. This could be attributed to the fact that those who come from rural areas are deeply rooted by their traditional beliefs and values than those born in the U.S. who are far more adaptable and communicable.

The survey was conducted in order to determine whether these Hispanics inform their physicians about their herb use; or are the doctors aware of this usage. It was found out that 70% of patients did not disclose their use of herbal medicines and only 15% indicated that they would inform their doctors about it. Please take note, however, that this study may not actually show the real sentiments of the respondents. There are some limiting factors to consider when this study conducted, such as the venue of the survey which were held in health clinics only, the inability of the respondents to answer all parts of the questionnaire, and the fear that they will not be supported by their physicians should they found out about their usage of herbal medicines.

One of the reasons why patients chose not to tell their doctors about their herb use because they feel that the physician show disinterest or respond to it negatively. They also believe that the physician will find it irrelevant to the medication they will be treated into. The respondents fear that they will be ridiculed about it, so they would rather not tell them of their herb use.

Some respondents believe most prescribed medications would be more effective in treating their illnesses if they combine them with herbal medicines. They consider it more advantageous if they communicate with their doctors about the usage and acceptance.

In order to make this study a relevant undertaking, it is therefore recommended that doctors must learn to understand the expanse of herbal medicine usages by their patients and try to get specific knowledge from them. It is important for them to encourage their patients to be more open about their herb use.

On the other hand, pharmacists should join hand in hand with the doctors and patients alike in striving to properly assess the herbal medicines and conduct a study of its effects on the patients' medication along with the prescribed medicines. It is more beneficial for everyone "to be aware of known potential herb-drug interactions to adequately treat patients." Any hostile effects of the herbal medicines on the patients must be reported immediately to the Food and Drug Administration Medwatch system.

All doctors and medical care practitioners should be bear in mind that it is their obligation to get information on herbal use of their patients. This is best done during preliminary consultation with their patients and in so doing, both will be more educated about the safe and effective use of herbal medicines.

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