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November 11, 1998

Advising Patients About Herbal Therapies

Author Affiliations

Copyright 1998 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1998

JAMA. 1998;280(18):1565-1566. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-280-18-jbk1111

To the Editor.— The use of herbal treatments by the public is increasing yearly. Sales of herbal treatments exceeded $2.5 billion in 1996 and have been increasing by 25% per year.1 Because of these trends, clinicians are being confronted almost on a daily basis with patients taking herbal preparations. It is no longer acceptable for the clinician simply to state that these products "do not work" or to claim ignorance regarding their use. It is imperative that clinicians have some basic understanding and knowledge regarding herbal treatments, even if solid clinical trials and scientific studies are lacking. Clinicians are in an excellent position to offer advice and discuss risks and benefits pertaining to herbal treatments. We propose several general guidelines to aid clinicians in these discussions with their patients in the hope that appropriate decisions can be made.

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