Consumers’ attitude towards the use and safety of herbal medicines and herbal dietary supplements in Serbia
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Background The use of herbal medicines and herbal dietary supplements in Serbia is very common and many patients consume herbal preparations with conventional drug therapy. Objective The aim of this survey was to evaluate the consumers’ awareness of herbal remedies and the safety of herbal dietary supplements, their attitude towards combining herbals and drugs, and the source of recommendations for their use. Setting The study included all consumers who bought herbal remedies and herbal dietary supplements in 15 pharmacies on the territory of Novi Sad during 2011 and who accepted to be interviewed. Methods Structured interviews using questionnaire, conducted by pharmacists. The questionnaire included 4 parts: socio-demographic characteristics of consumers, source of recommendations for the use of herbal products, attitude towards safety of herbal remedies and herbal dietary supplements use and their combination with regular drugs, as well as the question of purchased herbal products. Main outcome measure Consumers’ attitude towards the safety and use of herbal medicines and herbal dietary supplements measured by 9 items. Results The majority of interviewed participants were highly educated, aged 41–60 and they consumed herbal remedies on their own initiative or on recommendation of nonmedically educated person, without previous consultation with medical doctor or pharmacist. Out of all participants: 88.9 % did not consider it important to inform their physician or pharmacist about use of herbal remedies and herbal dietary supplements; 73.3 % found the use of herbal remedies harmless (where 9.4 % did not have any attitude towards that issue), while 40.3 % of participants regarded the combining of herbal and regular drugs unsafe. Conclusion There is a need for consumers’ education on reliable use of herbal medicines and herbal dietary supplements, in order to improve their awareness of the limits of herbal remedies safety and potential risks of their combination with drugs.
KeywordsConsumers’ attitude Herbal dietary supplements Herbal medicines Interactions Safety Serbia
This research is part of the Project No. 114-451-2056/2011-01 which is financially supported by the Provincial Secretariat for Science and Technological Development of Vojvodina and ON 172058 which is financially supported by the Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Serbia.
The present study received no external funding.
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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