1999 adults in the United States spent an estimated $4.5 billion on herbal medicines, plus
billions more on commercial diet products, vitamins and mineral supplements. One in five individuals
who takes prescription medications also takes herbal preparations, high-dose megavitamins, or both.
It is estimated that 15 million people who take herbal medicine may be at risk for potential
adverse interactions between their prescriptions and these products.
Especially troubling for physicians is that as many as 70 percent of patients taking alternative medications do not disclose this to their doctors. It is imperative that health care providers as well as patients become aware of the interactions of these products and that herbal-use habits become a part of the patient's documented history and treatment plan. For example, the anesthesiologist might consider whether or not to proceed with a regional anesthetic in the face of increased bleeding potential due to a patient's use of a specific herbal medicine. Some herbal effects may be subtle and less critical, but expecting a reaction is always preferred to reacting to an unexpected condition.
This website does not include information regarding herbal dosages or specific practice guidelines. It does, however, offer information about the current trends in herbal use, governmental oversight of the industry and some of the more common herbal medicines and their common uses, potential side effects and drug interactions.
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Date of Last Update: 07/27/12