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Exploring the safety and clinical use of herbal medicine in the contemporary Ghanaian context: A descriptive qualitative study

Aziato, Lydia, Odai, Philippa N.A.
Journal of herbal medicine 2017 v.8 pp. 62-67
adjuvants, health services, herbal medicines, herbs, interviews, patients, raw materials, research institutions, therapeutics, Ghana
Many individuals remain skeptical about the safety and use of herbal medicine thereby slowing the efforts being made to integrate herbal medicine into Ghana’s healthcare system. This study sought to provide an in-depth description of the clinical use of herbal medicine in Ghana through interviews with participants at two locations—a national research centre and a private clinic. The study adopted a descriptive qualitative design involving individual patient and key informant interviews. Data were collected from 13 key informants. Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Data analysis was conducted applying the procedures of content analysis. Two major themes were generated, focusing on the production and processing of herbal medicine and its use. The sub-themes generated were production of herbs and herbal medicine; analysis of herbal products; training of herbalists, ‘client assessment’, herbal medicine treatment decisions and adjuvant therapy. It was realized that there were difficulties acquiring sustainable raw materials for herbal medicine production. Quality aspects include the input of research institutions and regulatory bodies to ensure that safe herbal products are used, and the formal training of herbalists. Patients at the study locations are assessed using orthodox means and may be treated with adjuvant therapies as well as herbal medicine. The themes raised provide insight into the issues and possibilities of integrating herbal medicine into a wider healthcare system.