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Most Doctors Not Knowledgeable About Herbals

Survey also finds health care providers think the public has 'misplaced faith' in herbal medicines

MONDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Most physicians are not knowledgeable about herbal medicines and believe the general public is poorly informed as well, according to the results of a survey published in the April issue of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin.

The publication performed an online survey of a random sample of 1,157 of its subscribers. A total of 164 subscribers completed the 15-question survey in January 2010. According to the publication, more than 80 percent of the respondents were physicians (mostly family physicians), while pharmacists constituted most of the remaining respondents.

Among the key findings of the survey: 86.3 percent of respondents said the general public is "poorly informed" about herbal medicines, and 71.8 percent said the general public has a "misplaced faith" in herbal medicines; 75.5 percent said doctors in general are "poorly informed," and 46.6 percent said their own knowledge was "very poor" (10.4 percent) or "quite poor" (36.2 percent). While 77.3 percent of respondents said they worry their patients will take herbal medicines without telling them, only 12.9 percent said that when dealing with patients' drug therapy they "always" ask them whether they're taking herbal medicines.

"It's obviously worrying that doctors in general seem to know so little about herbal medicines, given the widespread use of such products," Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin editor, Ike Iheanacho, M.D., said in a statement, adding that, "the fact that few doctors make a point of asking patients whether they are taking herbal medicines raises further safety concerns."

DTB Survey on Herbal Medicines

Physician's Briefing