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Nurse Pract. 1996 Oct;21(10):39, 43-6, 49-52 passim.

A review and critique of common herbal alternative therapies.

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  • 1School of Nursing, Virginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, USA.


Patients' uses of herbal therapies warrant close scrutiny by providers. With the current proliferation of lay literature on herbal remedies and the wide availability of such products in health foods and other such stores, more people are relying on herbal and less conventional therapies for a wide variety of problems. Guidance in safe and effective use is needed. Only nine herbs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for selected applications, so that any lay press book or article that touts the benefits of an herbal remedy must be considered in light of the scientific literature for patient safety. Judging safety and efficacy becomes particularly difficult with the current lack of standardization and regulation of herbal products. German Commission E provides a review of some of the more than 1,400 herbal drugs; this review may be useful in evaluating such therapies. This article provides an overview of the current status of herbal therapies in the United States, a review of selected commonly used herbs by popular claims and scientific information, and relevant safety and efficacy data.

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