Advanced pathophysiology and pharmacology: Herbal and dietary supplements
The use of herbal medicine and dietary supplements has increased tremendously globally, to prevent and treat medical conditions as well as one element of complementary and alternative medicine. Most people are now relying on them as their primary source of healthcare without being aware of any long-term effects that could occur. Although herbal medications can be used to treat mild to moderate illness they may be potentially harmful in case of incorrect self-diagnosis, possible adverse effects, interactions with other medications and the risk of addiction. Use of the herbal medication could cause the risk of intoxication because they are used at the discretion of the patients and has no control by their healthcare providers. Use of both herbal medicine and dietary supplements is promoted through mass media advertisement targeting a certain group of people (Eichhorn, Greten, & Efferth, 2011). For example the children are encouraged to use the dietary supplements for their healthy growth development.
As a nurse my role is to be able to communicate, discuss and educate my patients concerning the use of herbal medications and dietary supplements. In most cases healthcare providers may be poorly informed concerning the use of these products and therefore adequate training is required to prevent health risks that could occur to patients from misuse of herbal products. More research should be done ion the adverse effects, efficacy, herbal-drug interactions and the risks of addiction. The regulatory policies on the use of herbal and dietary supplements should be standardized and concerned authorities to take appropriate measures to ensure the health of the general public is protected. This can be done by ensuring that all the herbal medications are suitable for sale and approved quality (Ekor, 2014). Although self-prescription would help the patient became proactive in their care and cut health insurance cost, more rigorous quality control is required and evidence-based in the safety of these products.
Eichhorn, T., Greten, H. J., & Efferth, T. (2011). Self-medication with nutritional supplements and herbal over-thecounter products. Natural products and bioprospecting, 1(2), 62-70.
Ekor, M. (2014). The growing use of herbal medicines: issues relating to adverse reactions and challenges in monitoring safety. Frontiers in pharmacology, 4, 177.