Increased use of complementary and alternative herbal medicines in the treatment of various diseases.Some herbal therapies may be causes of potential toxicity that may be renal toxicity caused by the ingestion of herbs. The goal of this study is the toxic and beneficial effects of medicinal herbs on renal health by which evidence for benefit or toxicity has been found. Included are nephrotoxicity from aristolochic acid and other components within herbs, herb-drug interactions, heavy metal toxicity in herbs and adulterants during careless preparation of herbal medicine, resulting in adverse renal effects and renal toxicity from contaminants within the extracts. The review aims to provide knowledge and guide to encourage future toxicity studies on the kidney by medicinal herbs.
Adverse effects; herbal medicines; nephrotoxicity
There is growing concern that serious interactions are occurring between prescribed/over the counter and herbal medicines and that there is a lack of disclosure of herbal use by patients to doctors. This study explores women's perspectives about the safety of herbal remedies, herb-drug interactions and communication with doctors about herbal medicines.
Qualitative, cross-sectional study, with purposive sampling which took place in Cheshire, UK. Eighteen in depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with female herbal medicine users aged 18 years and above.
The large majority did not inform their GPs of their use of herbal medicines. This was due to lack of physician enquiry, perception of importance and fear of a negative response. Several women were not aware that herbal remedies could interact with prescribed or over the counter medicines. Of the women who had experienced adverse effects none had reported them, believing them of low importance.
The women had little knowledge about herb-drug interactions and rarely disclosed use of herbal medicines to their doctor. Doctors' communication and openness regarding herbal medicines needs to improve and there should be increased access to accurate information on herbal medicines in the public and health care domain.
This study aims to investigate the knowledge and attitudes among pharmacists in Oman towards the specific use and knowledge of herbal drugs.
The study was conducted on 100 pharmacists employed in Oman. The data was collected using two self- administered questionnaire containing 7 and 11 closed ended questions in each, respectively.
The mean age of pharmacists was 32.6 (SD=5.6) years. The majority of pharmacists were interested in herbal information and their herbal information mainly comes from their previous classes during college. Most of them have belief on the effectiveness of herbal products. Pharmacists were more knowledgeable on specific therapeutic indications of herbal products rather than on other areas such as drug- herb interaction or side effects.
In summary, Pharmacists need to be informed on the therapeutic indications, drug interactions, dose, active constituent and precautions of herbal products. Concerned bodies must also provide them with regular continuing education programs apart from putting their effects to incorporate relevant topics in herbal medicine in pharmacy curriculum.
Herbal drugs; Herb-drug interaction; Pharmaceutical care
In Mexico, local empirical knowledge about medicinal properties of plants is the basis for their use as home remedies. It is generally accepted by many people in Mexico and elsewhere in the world that beneficial medicinal effects can be obtained by ingesting plant products. In this review, we focus on the potential pharmacologic bases for herbal plant efficacy, but we also raise concerns about the safety of these agents, which have not been fully assessed. Although numerous randomized clinical trials of herbal medicines have been published and systematic reviews and meta-analyses of these studies are available, generalizations about the efficacy and safety of herbal medicines are clearly not possible. Recent publications have also highlighted the unintended consequences of herbal product use, including morbidity and mortality. It has been found that many phytochemicals have pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic interactions with drugs. The present review is limited to some herbal medicine that are native or cultivated in Mexico and that have significant use. We discuss the cultural uses, phytochemistry, pharmacological and toxicological properties of the following following plant species: Nopal (Opuntia ficus), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Chaparral (Larrea divaricata), Dandlion (Taraxacum officinale), Mullein (Verbascum densiflorum), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Nettle or Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), Passionflower (Passiflora incarmata), Linden Flower (Tilia europea), and Aloa (Aloa vera). We conclude that our knowledge of the therapeutic benefits and risks of some herbal medicines used in Mexico is still limited and efforts to elucidate them should be intensified.
Herbal products have gained increasing popularity in the last decade, and are now used by approximately 20% of the population. Herbal products are complex mixtures of organic chemicals that may come from any raw or processed part of a plant, including leaves, stems, flowers, roots, and seeds. Under the current law, herbs are defined as dietary supplements, and manufacturers can therefore produce, sell, and market herbs without first demonstrating safety and efficacy, as is required for pharmaceutical drugs. Although herbs are often perceived as “natural” and therefore safe, many different side effects have been reported owing to active ingredients, contaminants, or interactions with drugs.
Unfortunately, there is limited scientific evidence to establish the safety and efficacy of most herbal products. Of the top 10 herbs, 5 (ginkgo, garlic, St. John’s wort, soy, and kava) have scientific evidence suggesting efficacy, but concerns over safety and a consideration of other medical therapies may temper the decision to use these products.
Herbal products are not likely to become an important alternative to standard medical therapies unless there are changes to the regulation, standardization, and funding for research of these products.
herbal medicine; efficacy; safety; regulation
In Africa, herbal medicines are often used as primary treatment for HIV/AIDS and for HIV-related problems. In general, traditional medicines are not well researched, and are poorly regulated. We review the evidence and safety concerns related to the use of two specific African herbals, which are currently recommended by the Ministry of Health in South Africa and member states for use in HIV: African Potato and Sutherlandia. We review the pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacokinetics of these herbal medicines. Despite the popularity of their use and the support of Ministries of Health and NGOs in some African countries, no clinical trials of efficacy exist, and low-level evidence of harm identifies the potential for drug interactions with antiretroviral drugs. Efforts should be made by mainstream health professionals to provide validated information to traditional healers and patients on the judicious use of herbal remedies. This may reduce harm through failed expectations, pharmacologic adverse events including possible drug/herb interactions and unnecessary added therapeutic costs. Efforts should also be directed at evaluating the possible benefits of natural products in HIV/AIDS treatment.
Between 7% and 48% of cancer patients report taking herbal medicines after diagnosis. Because of the possibility of unwanted side effects or interactions with conventional treatments, people with cancer are generally advised to tell the professionals treating them if they are taking any form of medication, including herbal medicines and supplements. Studies suggest that only about half do so and that the professionals themselves have at best very limited knowledge and feel unable to give informed advice. This study is intended to inform the future development of information resources for cancer patients, survivors and healthcare professionals including tools for use before or during consultation to make it easier for patients to mention, and for healthcare professionals to ask about, use of herbal medications.
This is a three-phase study. In phase 1, a systematic review of the literature on self-medication with herbal medicines among UK populations living with cancer will establish the current evidence base on use of herbal medicine, sources of information, characteristics and motivations. This will allow us to better understand what aspects need further investigation and inform the topic guide for a qualitative study (phase 2). Six focus groups of six to eight cancer patients who have used at least one herbal preparation since diagnosis will explore behaviour, beliefs, knowledge, information sources and needs in an informal conversational setting.
Informed by the findings of the systematic review and qualitative study, in phase 3 we will construct and pilot a questionnaire for a future large-scale survey to quantify and prioritise people's beliefs, needs and information preferences.
Despite known interactions with conventional cancer treatments and contraindications for some herbal remedies with specific cancers, reliable information resources for patients are very limited. Identifying cancer patients' information needs and preferences is the first step in creating a suitable resource for both the public and the professionals advising them.
Background: A large proportion of patients use herbal remedies with a potential to interact with prescribed drugs. Such interactions can be dangerous, particularly if the therapeutic window of the prescribed drug is small, as with warfarin.
Aims: Our aim was to estimate the prevalence of the use of herbal medicines by patients taking warfarin (co-ingestion).
Design of study: Postal questionnaire.
Setting: General practices in the South West of England.
Method: Thirty-five general practices in Devon and Somerset identified 2600 patients taking warfarin and sent postal questionnaires to them.
Results: One thousand, three hundred and sixty usable responses were received (response rate = 54.2%). One or more of the specified herbal remedies thought to interact with warfarin were taken by 8.8% of all patients. Complementary or homeopathic treatments not specified in the survey questionnaire were taken by 14.3% of responders. Overall, 19.2% of responders were taking one or more such medicines. The use of herbal medicines had not been discussed with a conventional healthcare professional by 92.2% of patients. Twenty-eight point three per cent of responders thought that herbal medicines might or definitely could interfere with other drugs prescribed by their doctor, however, patients taking any non-prescribed medication were less likely to believe this (χ2 = 20, degrees of freedom = 1, P<0.001).
Conclusion: A substantial proportion of patients taking warfarin in southwest England self-medicate with both herbal medicines that are thought to interact with warfarin and with others of unknown effect, usually without informing their healthcare team. Patients have a responsibility to mention such non-prescribed medication to their general practitioners, and general practitioners also have a responsibility to ask whether such co-ingestion is occurring.
alternative medicine; complementary medicine; complementary therapies; drug interactions; herb–drug interactions; self-medication; warfarin
In the United States, many patients, including cancer patients, concurrently take prescription drugs and herbal supplements. Co-administration of prescription medicines and herbal supplements may have negative outcomes via pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic herb-drug interactions. However, multiple constituents in botanicals may also yield beneficial pharmacological activities. Botanicals could possess effective anticancer compounds that may be used as adjuvants to existing chemotherapy to improve efficacy and/or reduce drug-induced toxicity. Herbal medicines, such as ginseng, potentiated the effects of chemotherapeutic agents via synergistic activities, supported by cell cycle evaluations, apoptotic observations, and computer-based docking analysis. Since botanicals are nearly always administrated orally, the role of intestinal microbiota in metabolizing ginseng constituents is presented. Controlled clinical studies are warranted to verify the clinical utility of the botanicals in cancer chemoprevention.
Botanicals; Herb-Drug Interaction; Colorectal Cancer; 5-FU; Irinotecan; Ginseng; Valerian; Astragalus; Turmeric; Intestinal Microbiota; Metabolites; Ginsenosides; Panaxadiol; Compound K
Use of herbal medicine in the treatment of liver cancer has a long tradition. The compounds derived from the herb and herbal composites are of considerable interest among oncologists. In the past, certain herbal compounds and herbal composite formulas have been studied through in vitro and in vivo as an anti-hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) agent, enhancing our knowledge about their biologic functions and targets. However there is a significant distinction between the herbal medicine and the herbal production even though both are the plant-based remedies used in the practice. In this article, for the sake of clarity, the effective herbal compounds and herbal composite formulas against HCC are discussed, with emphasizing the basic conceptions of herbal medicine in order to have a better understanding of the prevention and treatment of HCC by herbal active compounds and herbal composite formulas.
Over three-quarter of the world's population is using herbal medicines with an increasing trend globally. Herbal medicines may be beneficial but are not completely harmless.
This study aimed to assess the extent of use and the general knowledge of the benefits and safety of herbal medicines among urban residents in Lagos, Nigeria.
The study involved 388 participants recruited by cluster and random sampling techniques. Participants were interviewed with a structured open- and close-ended questionnaire.
The information obtained comprises the demography and types of herbal medicines used by the respondents; indications for their use; the sources, benefits and adverse effects of the herbal medicines they used.
A total of 12 herbal medicines (crude or refined) were used by the respondents, either alone or in combination with other herbal medicines. Herbal medicines were reportedly used by 259 (66.8%) respondents. 'Agbo jedi-jedi' (35%) was the most frequently used herbal medicine preparation, followed by 'agbo-iba' (27.5%) and Oroki herbal mixture® (9%). Family and friends had a marked influence on 78.4% of the respondents who used herbal medicine preparations. Herbal medicines were considered safe by half of the respondents despite 20.8% of those who experienced mild to moderate adverse effects.
Herbal medicine is popular among the respondents but they appear to be ignorant of its potential toxicities. It may be necessary to evaluate the safety, efficacy and quality of herbal medicines and their products through randomised clinical trial studies. Public enlightenment programme about safe use of herbal medicines may be necessary as a means of minimizing the potential adverse effects.
Many active components of herbal products are small organic anions, and organic anion transporters were previously demonstrated to be a potential site of drug-drug interactions. In this study, we assessed the inhibitory effects of six hydrophilic components of the herbal medicine Danshen, lithospermic acid, protocatechuic acid, rosmarinic acid, salvianolic acid A, salvianolic acid B, and tanshinol, on the function of the murine organic anion transporters, mOat1 and mOat3. All of Danshen components significantly inhibited mOat1- and mOat3-mediated substrate uptake (P < 0.001) with lithospermic acid (LSA), protocatechuic acid, rosmarinic acid (RMA), and salvianolic acid A (SAA) producing virtually complete inhibition under test conditions. Kinetic analysis demonstrated that LSA, RMA, and SAA were competitive inhibitors. As such, Ki values were estimated as 14.9 ± 4.9 μM for LSA, 5.5 ± 2.2 μM for RMA, and 4.9 ± 2.2 μM for SAA on mOat1-mediated transport, and as 31.1 ± 7.0 μM for LSA, 4.3 ± 0.2 μM for RMA, and 21.3 ± 7.7 μM for SAA on mOat3-mediated transport. These data suggest that herb-drug interactions may occur in vivo on the human orthologs of these transporters in situations of polypharmacy involving Danshen and clinical therapeutics known to be organic anion transporter substrates.
Cochrane reviews are considered by many to be the “gold standard” or the final word in medical conversation on a topic. We explored the eleven most relevant Cochrane reviews on herbal medicine and identified that frequently herbal medicines in the included studies had not been sufficiently well characterised. If data on the effects of the plant parts are unavailable, effects of co-active ingredients need to be considered and the plausibility of the study medications for the specific indications discussed. Effect sizes calculated from exploratory studies would be best used to determine the sample sizes required for future confirmatory studies, rather than as definitive reports of intervention effects. Reviews should be comprehensive, including discussion of putative adverse events and possible drug interactions. We suggest that the guidelines for preparing Cochrane reviews be revised and offer assistance in this task.
To determine fourth-year Canadian pharmacy students' knowledge of herbal medicine and whether that knowledge is associated with mandatory instruction in herbal medicine.
Standardized multiple-choice tests assessing students' herbal knowledge were distributed to all fourth-year BSc pharmacy students at 5 pharmacy schools in Canada.
The Quebec response rate was too low to include in the analysis. Herbal knowledge test scores were positively associated with having previously taken an herbal medicine class and completion of a pharmacy practicum. However, postsecondary education, age, and gender were not associated with herbal knowledge test scores. Students at the University of British Columbia had the highest score, followed by Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Ontario.
Pharmacy students' knowledge of herbal medicine varies depending on the school attended and higher herbal knowledge test scores appear to be most closely related to mandatory herbal instruction.
herbal supplements; complementary and alternative medicine; assessment
Breast cancer (BCa) is the most commonly occurring cancer in women, comprising almost one third of all malignancies. Previously we reported that the n-hexane fraction (hSL) of the Siddha herbal medicine, Semecarpus Lehyam, relatively sensitized estrogen receptor-negative (ER−) BCa when compared to estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) BCa cells. In this study we used a bioassay-guided fractionation approach leading to a simplified fraction of hSL that effectively sensitized both ER+ (MCF-7) and ER− (MDA-231) BCa cells. Further bioassay-guided isolation led to the purification of three potent anti-cancer components from hSL which significantly induced apoptosis in both the BCa cell lines. Their structures were identified through NMR and mass spectroscopic analysis as (7;Z,10;Z)-3-pentadeca-7,10-dienyl-benzene-1,2-diol (1), (8;Z)-3-pentadec-10-enyl-benzene-1,2-diol (2) and 3-pentadecyl-benzene-1,2-diol (3). Compounds (1) and (2) turned out to be more active than (3). The overall results of this study suggest that these major components of hSL may be solely responsible for the anti-tumor effect of SL.
Siddha medicine; bioassay-guided fractionation; anti-cancer effect; breast cancer
The risks attributed to drug-herb interactions, even when known, are often ignored or underestimated, especially for those involving anti-clotting drugs and Chinese medicines. The aim of this study was to structurally search and evaluate the existing evidence-based data associated with potential drug interactions between anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs and Chinese herbal medicines (CHMs) and evaluate the documented mechanisms, consequences, and/or severity of interactions.
Methodology and Findings
Information related to anticoagulant/antiplatelet drug-CHM interactions was retrieved from eight interaction-based textbooks, four web resources and available primary biomedical literature. The primary literature searches were conducted in English and/or Chinese from January 2000 through December 2011 using the secondary databases (e.g., PubMed, Airiti Library, China Journal full-text database). The search terms included the corresponding medical subject headings and key words. Herbs or natural products not used as a single entity CHM or in Chinese Medicinal Prescriptions were excluded from further review. The corresponding mechanisms and severity ratings of interactions were retrieved using MicroMedex®, Lexicomp® and Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database®. Finally, we found 90 single entity CHMs contributed to 306 documented drug-CHM interactions. A total of 194 (63.4%) interactions were verified for its evidence describing possible mechanisms and severity. Of them, 155 interactions (79.9%) were attributable to pharmacodynamic interactions, and almost all were rated as moderate to severe interactions. The major consequences of these interactions were increased bleeding risks due to the additive anticoagulant or antiplatelet effects of the CHMs, specifically danshen, dong quai, ginger, ginkgo, licorice, and turmeric.
Conventional anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs were documented to have harmful interactions with some commonly used single entity CHMs. For those patients who are taking conventional anti-clotting medications with CHMs for cardiovascular or cerebrovascular diseases, the potential risks of increased bleeding due to drug-CHM interactions should not be ignored.
A large proportion of cancer patients are estimated to use herbal medicines, but data to substantiate this are lacking. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of herbal medicine use among cancer patients in the West Midlands, and determine the characteristics predicting herbal medicine use.
A cross-sectional survey of oncology patients (n=1498) being followed up at a hospital in Coventry was undertaken. Recipients were asked about herbal medicine use since their cancer diagnosis, and the association between sociodemographic and cancer-related characteristics and herbal medicine use was evaluated.
A total of 1134 responses were received (75.7%). The prevalence of herbal medicine use was 19.7% (95% CI: 17.4–22.1; n=223). Users were more likely to be affluent, female, and aged under 50 years. Usage increased with time since cancer diagnosis (X2 for trend=4.63; P=0.031). A validation data set, derived from a survey of oncology patients in Birmingham (n=541) with differing socioeconomic characteristics showed no significant difference in estimated prevalence (16.6% 95% CI: 11.9–22.2).
A substantial number of people with cancer are likely to be taking herbal medicines. Understanding the self-medication behaviours of these individuals is essential if health-care professionals are to support treatment adherence and avoid unwanted pharmacological interactions.
herbal medicines; survivorship; prevalence
Today, the use of herbal medicine for primary healthcare has increased considerably. Since local pharmacists graduate with little knowledge on herbal medicine, the majority are ill-equipped to provide pharmaceutical advice.
To develop and evaluate a herbal medicine formulary to aid healthcare professionals (HCPs) in the prescribing, dispensing and counselling responsibilities.
Settings and Design
Methods and Material
Monographs on all herbal substances available locally were compiled into a formulary. The formulary was then distributed to all, 216, local pharmacies. Subsequently, a questionnaire was distributed to 55 pharmacists and 10 general practitioners (GPs).
Statistical analysis used
Descriptive statistical analysis.
A total of 177 herbal monographs have been compiled and 612 herbal products listed. Thirty HCPs participated in the questionnaire. The formulary was found to be useful by all participants with 19 claiming to use it frequently and 7 quite frequently. Participants (n = 30) agree that the information contained within the formulary was found to be useful (26), the formulary helped them learn which HMPs are present in the local market (29), the formulary is user friendly (27), information included is up-to-date and well referenced (29) and that there is the need for a formulary of this kind in Malta (28).
The formulary was found to be a useful tool for HCPs leading to high quality, evidence-based prescribing together with enhanced monitoring and improved patient care.
Formulary; Healthcare; Herbal medicine; Pharmacist; Usefulness
This is a cross-sectional, descriptive study among Malay women admitted in the antenatal and postnatal ward to determine the prevalence and use of herbal medicines during pregnancy and elemental analysis in the most popular herbs. A total of 460 women were surveyed. Herbal medicine use during pregnancy was 34.3%, while 73% utilized herbal medicines during labor, because of a belief that it may shorten and ease labor. The most commonly used herbal medicines in pregnancy were Anastatica hierochuntica L. (60.1%) followed by coconut oil (35.4%). The majority of women (89.2%) used only one type of herbal medicines and took one capsule/glass (38%) per day. Herbal medicines use by pregnant women is largely unsupervised (81%), with most women getting information from their parents (60.7%) and buying the products directly from traditional midwives (32.2%) and 77% agreed upon its efficacy and safety. From the 460 respondents, 89.8% women were in the low end of the herbs knowledge. There was a significant difference found between knowledge score and income (P < 0.05). Microdiffraction analysis revealed significant presence of carbon, oxygen, silica, calcium, magnesium, aluminium, potassium, zinc, and iron that were found in Anastatica hierochuntica L. and proved to have good benefits for pregnancy.
The increase of herbal medicine use led many scientists to contribute to the research in this field. Also a few pharmacologists, after an initial phase of correct criticisms, today recognize the possibility of investigating the scientific value of medicinal products composed essentially of vegetable extracts. However, it is logical to pose the questions: (i) is there a role for the pharmacologist in herbal medicine (or phytotherapy)? (ii) can we do without pharmacologists’? First, two worlds—drug researchers (pharmacologists) and herbal medicines—yesterday appearing in opposition, are today closer and it is not unusual to read scientific works describing herbal extracts in journals traditionally dedicated to the study of synthetic drugs. Second, clinical application of herbal medicines is evaluable through the methods of modern clinical pharmacology. Efficacy and safety of medicinal plants represent naturally the object of interest for the pharmacologist and it is surely this aspect which gives the most important information on herbal medicine use. Many plants have been studied and results published showing, one time good or another poor, efficacy. Safety aspects of some of the most frequently used plants are now well known. For example, today we learn to use hypericum and we do not give it to patients taking other drugs because the interactions of hypericum with them. Contraindications of other plants, often represented by interactions with drugs, are finally known (Ginkgo biloba and drugs acting on blood coagulation). In conclusion, antagonistic behavior of pharmacologists versus herbal medicines is not useful. On the contrary, modern phytotherapy needs the contribution of researchers usually trained to evaluate efficacy and safety of medicinals.
herbal medicines; herbal medicine; herbs; medicinal plants; phytotherapy