Who should be providing information: WHERE SHOULD CONSUMERS GO FOR ADVICE CONCERNING THE USE OF HERBAL MEDICINE?(2)

Pharmacists have the resources to integrate herbal product information with their knowledge of physiology and pharmacology. The pharmacist is, therefore, able to counsel a patient on the safe use of herbal products, based on the most current information available. Other personnel involved in the sale of herbal products often have limited knowledge of physiology or pharmacology. Frequently, if the staff has any formal training, it is limited to a product or company-based course. It is unreasonable to expect this individual to have the skills necessary to assess the value or risk of taking a herbal product in a patient who has a chronic condition or in a patient who is also taking prescription medications. buy asthma inhaler

Scientifically, we have only begun to scratch the surface of understanding the risks and benefits of herbal medicine. Much of what is discussed in the literature regarding side effects or herb-drug interactions are case reports or predictions of possible outcomes that are based on the knowledge of what herbal products contain. Herbal medicines must be evaluated with the same scientific rigour as any other therapy. Eventually, contraindications, side effects and drug interactions of herbs will be understood and will be predictable. We must not underestimate the potential for herbal medicines, in certain circumstances, to do damage as well as to help. A health care provider, such as a pharmacist, is the person with access to the most appropriate, scientifically based herbal information and is the one who can, based on the most current information, determine how the product will affect a patient’s overall health.

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