Intended for healthcare professionals

Herbal medicine – the role of the dermatologist

In the USA and the UK, herbal medicinal products (HMPs) are marketed as dietary supplements, largely outside the control of the regulatory agencies. In Britain, HMPs are more popular than any other complementary therapy. A systematic review of survey data showed that 35–69% of dermatological patients use some form of complementary medicine, of which herbal medicines are the most prevalent. There is evidence to suggest that many patients do not tell their doctor about HMP use, meaning that HMP use is therefore likely to be underestimated by physicians; there is also evidence that the popularity of HMPs is increasing sharply. Given this background, one may ask what the role of the dermatologist might be in dealing with HMPs. Some answers to this complex question are supplied in the following discussion, which is aimed primarily at stimulating a debate on this subject.
Dermatology in practice 2002; 10(6): 20–22
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