Background Herbal medicines (HM) are those with active ingredients made from plant parts, such as leaves, roots or flowers. However, being ‘natural’ does not necessarily mean they are safe to take.1 Taking HMs may not be suitable for children: as for all medicines. The NHS recommends that parents ask a paediatrician or pharmacist before giving a HM to their children.1
Purpose To investigate HM use in the paediatric population (0–18 years).
Material and methods We conducted a prospective study, using a questionnaire delivered to parents waiting in a paediatric practice office. Questions concerned: most used HMs, general opinion about HMs and practical experience (as to their efficacy and side effects).
Results 92 questionnaires have been collected to date. 90.2% of those interviewed were mothers. 78.3% affirmed the use of HMs for their children. HMs were mostly used for cough and cold syndromes. 76.9% of mothers bought HMs less than 5 times a year. HMs were mostly suggested by the paediatrician (49.2%) or pharmacist (47.7%), and less frequently by the seller in the herbalist’s shop (10.8%) or by the natural health practitioner (6.2%). 63.6% considered HMs use as an alternative medicine, 50.6% as effective as conventional medicine and 44.4% affirmed that the efficacy HMs depends on the product. 83.8% considered HMs less dangerous than conventional drugs. 84% of parents said that children did not develop side effects after HM administration. The majority of parents reported HM use to the doctor in the case of drug prescription (45.1%); 68.4% were aware of interactions of HMs with other substances.
Conclusion Even if this subject is relevant and our data show that HMs are frequently used in children, overall information are lacking in the literature. Hence one of our purposes would be to implement our study, extending it to a more widespread population.
References and/or acknowledgements 1. National Health Service, Herbal Medicines http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/herbal-medicines/Pages/Introduction.aspx (accessed 15 October 2016).
No conflict of interest
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