MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

On this blog, I have repeatedly tried to alert consumers and patients to the risks of herbal medicine. The risks include:

A new paper throws more light on the latter issue which has been not well-studies so far.

The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between the use of medicinal plants and medication adherence in elderly people. The authors conducted an observational, cross-sectional study of elderly residents in Cuité-PB, Northeastern Brazil, through a household survey. A stratified proportional and systematic random sample of 240 elders was interviewed in their homes and the use of pharmaceutical medicines and of medicinal plants was assessed by direct examination. The association of medication adherence with socio-demographic, clinical, medication and use of medicinal plants was analysed with multiple logistic regression.

The results showed that medication non-adherence increases with use of herbal medicines (adjusted odds ratio 2.022, 95% CI 1.059–3.862, p = 0.03), as well as with the number of different medicinal plants used (adjusted odds ratio 1.937, 95% CI 1.265–2.965, p = 0.002).

The authors concluded that this study provides first-hand evidence that the use of herbal medicines is associated with poor medication adherence. Given the high frequency of the use of herbal medicines, further research into the mechanisms of this association is justified.

This conclusion is well-put, I think. If these findings are confirmed in other populations, we are confronted with a somewhat paradoxical situation: combining herbal and synthetic medicines can reduce adherence to the synthetic drugs and, in cases where adherence is not affected, it could increase the risk of herb/drug interactions.

24 Responses to A risk of herbal medicine that has so far been neglected

  • Hi, me again!

    If you want to talk about risks and the drug industry, check this out – the ingredients for the MMR vaccine given to our babies:

    Added ingredients:
    Aluminium
    Thiomersal, also called Thimerosal
    Gelatine
    Human serum albumin and recombinant albumin
    Sorbitol and other stabilisers
    Emulsifiers
    Taste improvers
    Products used in vaccine manufacture:
    Antibiotics
    Egg proteins (ovalbumin)
    Yeast proteins
    Latex (in packaging)
    Formaldehyde
    Acidity regulators
    Human cell-lines, animal cell-lines and GMOs
    Other growing media

    Everyone knows aluminium is essential to the proper development of a human brain, don’t they?

    Check out Gardisil and what it’s doing to our teenage girls.

    I think it’s very irresponsible to imply that natural medicines are unsafe, when the pharmaceutical companies are literally getting away with murder.

    • jane summers said:

      If you want to talk about risks and the drug industry…

      We’ll bear that in mind. But getting back to the topic at hand, do you agree with what Prof Ernst has said?

    • Aluminium, as most of cation, are indeed essential to most cell membrane formation. As copper, or iron. Amazing, we got metal in our body.

      Make a list of vaccine component is not enough to make them dangerous to us…

    • @jane summers
       
      Good grief! If ever evidence were required that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, here it is.
       
      You copied your list of MMR ingredients from this web page. Did you not notice that, below the list, there were a lot of other words? Screeds of them? All explaining in minute detail what each of these ingredients does and how every one is harmless?
       
      For example, part of the explanation about the aluminium that so upsets you reads “After vaccination there is a temporary increase in the amount of aluminium in the body, but this is not a lasting effect. The body gets rid of most of the aluminium in just a few days. There is no evidence that this causes any risk to babies and children.”
       
      I suspect you are a member of the curious group of people who grumble about things containing “chemicals” without the faintest notion that everything you touch is made of and contains chemicals. Just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t make it good: try ingesting a little phalloidin or tetrodotoxin.
       
      Your posts on this blog demonstrate all too clearly you are perfect material to demonstrate the Dunning & Kruger effect: a person who mistakenly assesses their ability to be much higher than it really is. Physics, biology and medicine whizz over, way above your head like a flock of erudite birds, leaving behind only small, uncoordinated droppings of unrelated information which you lack the power to digest.

      • “Your posts on this blog demonstrate all too clearly you are perfect material to demonstrate the Dunning & Kruger effect: a person who mistakenly assesses their ability to be much higher than it really is. Physics, biology and medicine whizz over, way above your head like a flock of erudite birds, leaving behind only small, uncoordinated droppings of unrelated information which you lack the power to digest.”

        Nailed it yet again (and bloody funny to boot).

    • “Check out Gardisil and what it’s doing to our teenage girls.”

      Yep, it is doing the awful and sorry job of preventing many horrible deaths by a preventable cancer; so that many mothers will live to see their children grow and mature into adults, and have children of their own. The makers of Gardisil should be ashamed of themselves, the bastards.

      Seriously “jane”, are you as stupid as you appear? Did the education system completely pass you by? (Refer to my comment, Frank Collins on Thursday 04 February 2016 at 10:05, below). It is, of course, a totally rhetorical question.

    • Hi Jane,

      Why would “taste improvers” be added to an injected vaccine?

  • “Check out Gardisil and what it’s doing to our teenage girls.”

    Check out measles, mumps and rubella and what they do. Check out the difference in the incidence of those three horrors when a significant minority are not immunised.

  • Also add to the list: “Chinese medicine was often overlooked as a driver of the illegal trade in endangered wildlife while more conspicuous trade in animal parts such as tusks and horns received more attention”

    http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/snow-leopard-dna-found-in-chinese-medicine-sold-in-australia-20160204-gmlfi3.html

  • Sorry Jane, you should read real science, medical and history books and journals rather than alternative misinformation. I’m sure you mean well but are terribly uninformed on the facts. Yes, the world is round.

  • I love your posts!!
    WHO NEEDS RESEARCH ON HERBS…. EVEN IF THEY ARE THE MAIN SOURCE OF DRUGS.
    WHO NEEDS INVESTIGATION IF THEY HAVE DR.EE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    TOXICOLOGY EXISTS BUT IATROGENISIS IS 1000X MORE IN CHEMICAL DRUGS THAN IN HERBS.
    AND IF HERBS DONT WORK WHY USE TAXOL ETOPOSIDE, ASPIRIN??

    CREATE A RELIGION AND YOU HAVE SUCESS

  • @ nonidiot on Thursday 11 February 2016 at 14:59,

    Have you anything sensible to SHOUT? That drivel doesn’t cut it.

  • Another significant risk is the possibility of needing an organ transplant;

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-01/supplements-linked-to-at-least-6-australian-organ-transplants/7207472

  • I think herbal medicine not safer like most people think. there are adverse reaction that we don’t know yet..

  • Yes, herbal medicine is not be right sometime.. Because it depends on thinking to thinking.. And most of the drug will affect based on the mental thinking actually.
    Also it works with our neural system also..means how much we cope up with our problem of disease.
    Yes Homeopathy is vast all time.. It doesn’t have any side effect and it works slowly in nature.. not like pharmaceutical medicines.

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