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Herbal medicines – what do clinicians know?


In 1986, DTB published an article called Herbal medicines – safe and effective?, which discussed some of the issues around the availability, safety and efficacy of such treatments.1 We highlighted how the failure of orthodox medicines to cure, and anxiety about their potentially serious unwanted effects, had led some people to turn to herbal medicines for treatment for chronic and disabling conditions often in the belief, that natural medicines must be intrinsically safe. The article concluded by discussing the potential problems associated with herbal medicines and the role that doctors should play in asking about patients’ use of such products.

Revisiting these themes, here we present an overview of the results of an online survey conducted among DTB readers to explore four key issues:

What do healthcare professionals know about herbal medicines?

What challenges (if any) does patients’ use of herbal medicines raise for healthcare professionals?

What awareness do healthcare professionals have about the regulatory arrangements for herbal medicines?

What sources of information (if any) do healthcare professionals use to inform themselves about herbal medicines?

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