September 7, 2011

Buyers of Herbal Medicines – BEWARE! - P2

In this blog I will pull together some of the errors made by doctors in dealing with herbal medicines. Be aware that the American Medical Association has a public position against herbal medications and supplements and most doctors do follow this position.

This section is not meant as a diatribe against doctors, but to just list some of the reactions I have seen and had people tell me about how their doctors have reacted to their list of herbal medications or supplements. Doctors are aware of herbal medicines and supplements. It is their actions that determine how successful they are in dealing with these.

The first reaction I saw was total disinterest and a comment that I should not be taking any of them. When he got to vitamin D, I was told that I got enough of that from the sun and enriched foods. I was not aware that he had requested a test for this and when he showed me that the reading was 25 and more than enough to stop taking vitamin D, I almost believed him. I was fortunate to have been reading several medical blogs that felt that a reading of 25 was the lowest anyone should have and if they are that low they should be taking vitamin D supplements.

Another doctor just pooh-poohed the necessity of herbal supplements, or minerals and said that if I was eating the right foods they were totally unnecessary. In fact he basically warned me to stop. This reinforces what other people have told me about reactions their doctors have had to herbal medicines and supplements.

This comprises the largest mistake by doctors – totally ignoring or advocating against taking them at all. Most people do take some and many people take a lot of herbal supplements. Doctors need to recognize this if they want cooperation in the future from patients, they should just make note of these and if necessary ask about others that are not listed. Their reactions to patients taking herbal supplements will determine future problems that the patients may face. The patient may need to take precautions since the doctor is not willing consider or discuss anything herbal or berates the patient for using them. In these circumstances, I would suggest locating a different doctor.

One comment I have had from others points out a second mistake by doctors. This is just writing a prescription without reviewing the list or asking the patient if they were taking any of the herbal medicines that would react unfavorably with the prescription. In this case the patient had an excellent pharmacist that did ask and advised the patient correctly to stop taking the herbal supplement while on the prescription and explained what could happen if the patient did not stop.

Another mistake a friend had the doctor make was prescribing a supplement that was about 15 times more expensive than could be purchased over the counter in most stores and pharmacies. Again a pharmacist saved the day. These types of mistakes are commonly made by doctors that do not recognize herbal supplements and medicines.

My next blog will cover mistakes of manufacturers.

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