CAM EducationHerbals

UK doctors rate their knowledge of herbal medicines

Here are the results of the British Medical Journal survey.

88% of respondents came from the UK, with the rest coming from 10 countries.

Do you think herbal medicines are helpful?

  • In some circumstances: 75%

How would you describe the attitudes of the general public towards herbal medicines?

  • Generally positive: 82%

Do you think that the general public has a misplaced faith in herbal medicines?

  • Yes: 72%

In general, how well informed do you think the general public is about herbal medicines?

  • Poorly informed: 86%

In general, how well informed do you think doctors are about herbal medicines?

  • Poorly informed: 76%

How would you describe your current knowledge and understanding of herbal medicines?

  • Quite poor: 36%

Compared to your knowledge of prescribed medicines, your knowledge of herbal medicines is…

  • Much poorer: 89%

Do you worry that your patients will take herbal medicines and not tell you?

  • Yes: 77%

When planning or reviewing a patient’s drug therapy, do you ask them whether they are already taking herbal medicines?

  • Occasionally/for a few patients: 47%

If you knew a patient was taking a herbal medicine you did not know the effects of, would you generally seek further information on it before starting or adjusting non-herbal medication?

  • Yes: 70%

Does your clinical prescribing system provide any information on herbal medicines?

  • No: 63%

How much do you know about the regulatory arrangements around herbal medicines?

  • Very little: 52%

Do you believe herbal medicines are well regulated?

  • No: 84%

The bottom line?

Lots of conclusions can be drawn from the survey results.

Most interesting to me is that although 70% of the respondents would search for more information about herbals their patients take, 3 out of 10 respondents who would not seek further information cited uncertainty as to where to find reliable information (60%).

4/8/10 19:57 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.