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Pharmacists Encouraged to Learn More About Herbal Supplements

Pharmacists should steer patients toward brands of herbal products that are reliable and unadulterated

WEDNESDAY, March 7, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Pharmacists should be aware of the increasing use of supplements, and should learn about both the supplements and possible medication interactions to be able to answer patients’ questions, according to an article published in Drug Topics.

The article states that a recent study in the Journal of Nutrition found that 70 percent of Americans age 60 years and older say that they use a vitamin, mineral, herb, or other supplement each day and 29 percent report using four or more per day. However, health care providers do not receive training needed to identify herb-drug interactions, herb-disease interactions, or other potential problems.

Pharmacy schools do not encourage the study of herbal medicine and consequently pharmacists lack the knowledge needed to answer questions about herbal medicines. Resources based on evidence are available and include the Natural Medicine Database and the American Botanical Council. Providers should encourage patients to report their herbal supplement use and then steer them towards reliable and unadulterated brands. A drug interaction report should be run once the full medication profile, including herbal or dietary supplements, has been recorded.

“Although pharmacists may want to choose a prescription medication over an herbal/dietary supplement, they should keep in mind what the patient wants and why they are taking an herbal or other supplement,” according to the report.

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