Perceived efficacy of herbal remedies by users accessing primary healthcare in Trinidad

Department of Para-Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.02). 02/2007; 7(1):4. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6882-7-4
Source: PubMed


The increasing global popularity of herbal remedies requires further investigation to determine the probable factors driving this burgeoning phenomenon. We propose that the users' perception of efficacy is an important factor and assessed the perceived efficacy of herbal remedies by users accessing primary health facilities throughout Trinidad. Additionally, we determined how these users rated herbal remedies compared to conventional allopathic medicines as being less, equally or more efficacious.
A descriptive cross-sectional study was undertaken at 16 randomly selected primary healthcare facilities throughout Trinidad during June-August 2005. A de novo, pilot-tested questionnaire was interviewer-administered to confirmed herbal users (previous or current). Stepwise multiple regression analysis was done to determine the influence of predictor variables on perceived efficacy and comparative efficacy with conventional medicines.
265 herbal users entered the study and cited over 100 herbs for the promotion of health/wellness and the management of specific health concerns. Garlic was the most popular herb (in 48.3% of the sample) and was used for the common cold, cough, fever, as 'blood cleansers' and carminatives. It was also used in 20% of hypertension patients. 230 users (86.8%) indicated that herbs were efficacious and perceived that they had equal or greater efficacy than conventional allopathic medicines. Gender, ethnicity, income and years of formal education did not influence patients' perception of herb efficacy; however, age did (p = 0.036). Concomitant use of herbs and allopathic medicines was relatively high at 30%; and most users did not inform their attending physician.
Most users perceived that herbs were efficacious, and in some instances, more efficacious than conventional medicines. We suggest that this perception may be a major contributing factor influencing the sustained and increasing popularity of herbs. Evidence-based research in the form of randomized controlled clinical trials should direct the proper use of herbs to validate (or otherwise) efficacy and determine safety. In the Caribbean, most indigenous herbs are not well investigated and this points to the urgent need for biomedical investigations to assess the safety profile and efficacy of our popular medicinal herbs.

Download full-text


Available from: Yuri N Clement,
  • Source
    • "The public’s perception is that “natural” therapy is safe28 and that there is no harm in taking as many herbs as one wishes;29 some patients believe that more is better, which can lead to potential harm from ingesting large quantities of herbal products. In fact, in some countries, herbs are considered more effective than prescribed medicines.30 Motivation for herb use is often not based on scientific data. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: It is estimated that more than 4 billion people throughout the world use natural herbs for some aspect of primary health care. These over-the-counter medications, commonly referred to as "complementary and alternative medicines," despite their proposed health benefits, may have serious and potentially fatal side effects. This paper presents the case of a patient who underwent a gynecological operation and suffered heavy postoperative bleeding as a result of her taking large doses of oral raw garlic in the weeks prior to her operation and discusses the issue of patients' perioperative intake of herbal supplements. To our knowledge, this is the first paper to demonstrate the relationship between a natural therapy and postoperative bleeding in gynecological surgery. The patient presented with severe postoperative bleeding following a routine, unremarkable vaginal hysterectomy. The bleeding required a multidisciplinary management intervention involving gynecological surgeons, general surgeons, oncology surgeons, hematologists, anesthetists, and intensive care unit specialists. After careful history taking (unfortunately, undertaken postoperatively), it was unanimously agreed that the postoperative hemorrhage was due to the patient's excessive preoperative oral ingestion of raw garlic. The case and brief literature review presented in this paper concern an area of paucity in gynecological surgery and highlight the relationship between a commonly taken over-the-counter herbal medication and postoperative hemorrhage.
    International Journal of Women's Health 06/2013; 5(1):345-349. DOI:10.2147/IJWH.S46205
  • Source
    • "Taken together, the various plant parts used by the Kavirajes for treatment of bone fracture appears to be validated scientifically in a remarkable manner. Zingiber officinale rhizomes (ginger) are known to have carminative properties (Clement et al., 2007), so its use for treatment of bloating in cattle (see Serial Number 3) is also scientifically valid. For treatment of orchitis, roots of Physalis micrantha are tied to the head of boys suffering from this disease whose symptoms are swelling of one or both testicles. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: ------------------
    American-Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 01/2013; 6(4):234-247. · 2.54 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "africana almost entirely occurs in Africa (Iwarsson and Harvey, 2003; Venkat et al., 2011). The plant is used in traditional medicine in therapy of bronchial asthma, diarrhoea, fever, malaria and as an analgesic agent in menstrual pains; also to treat common cold and to alleviate cough (Clement et al., 2005, 2007; Maregesi et al., 2007; Lans, 2007). In India, the flowers are used in case of hardly healing wounds, scars and burns. "

Show more