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Herbal medicine: Who cares? The changing views on medicinal plants and their roles in British lifestyle

Lazarou, Rebecca, Heinrich, Michael
Phytotherapy research 2019 v.33 no.9 pp. 2409-2420
adverse effects, health services, herbal medicines, herbs, lifestyle, medicinal plants, medicine, public opinion, quality control, surveys, United Kingdom
Herbal medicines are not only widely used but also contentious health care products. Currently, little is known about the products' place in people's health care strategies and their views about such products. The aims of the study are to gain insight into the public's perception of herbal medicine/general use of herbs for health, as well as on the growing of plants for medicine. Core to the research was a survey that covered participants' views about herbal medicines. Data were collected online and from visitors at the Eden Project, as well as some other garden events. Survey responses were categorized and analysed using Qualtrics. Overall, 408 participants participated though numbers varied across questions. Results show that herbal medicines are popular, particularly amongst the 36‐ to 55‐year‐old age group. Participants mostly used herbal medicines for minor self‐limiting conditions. Popular reasons for use included that plant medicines are natural and have fewer side effects, as well as for a few changing relationship with conventional medicines. Around a third of participants grew their own plants for health care. This is the first larger U.K.‐based survey indicating a wide use of such products, and it is therefore recommended that there is an increase in quality control and wider regulation. Access to high‐quality products should be prioritized.