Oliveira SGD, Piva E and Lund RG
Background: The use of medicinal plants as an alternative healthcare is widespread in developing countries. This is due to several factors ranging from the belief of the absence of side effects to the difficulty of access to allopathic medicines. Seen it, it is of utmost importance the study of the use of these medicinal plants and its relationship with allopathic medicine and the public health system. The objective of this study was to identify the range of natural health products and conventional drug therapies used by patients assisted by basic care units of the Brazilian Unified Health System.
Methods: Five basic health units in the city of Pelotas were select by a convenience sample and patients were interviewed about how were treated, including their use of natural products. The questionnaires have closed and semiclosed questions. The questionnaires have questions about the use of medicinal plants and if theirs use was concomitant with allopathic medicines.
Results: Most sample-comprising patients at basic health units (94.6%) reported using herbal medicine as an alternative and complementary therapy, and 64% also admitted growing some type of plant with medicinal purposes in their homes for their own use. Furthermore, 55.2% of patients taking herbal medicine to treat their illnesses did without the concurrent use of synthetic chemical drugs. 43.84% of interviewed patients were using some allopathic medicine daily. The possibility of interactions between anticoagulants and ‘boldo’ was found in the literature as well as the ‘lemon’ with chloroquine and also between ‘chamomile’ and anticoagulants and analgesics.
Conclusion: It is important to educate the public about the adverse effects of concomitant use of herbal and allopathic as these problems occur in the absence of knowledge of users, who often self-medicate with herbs, and health professionals who do not have sufficient clarity on the correct concepts of herbal medicine.