Background and importance According to the World Health Organization, 80% of the world’s population uses medicinal plants. This allopathy alternative constitutes an accessible and inexpensive source of medicines. However, it is not without risks.
Aim and objectives This study aimed to: (1) assess the prevalence of the use of medicinal plants, (2) measure the perception about medicinal plants and (3) identify the most commonly used plants for self-medication among Tunisian patients.
Material and methods This was a cross-sectional monocentre study carried out in the largest hospital in Tunisia. The study was approved by the local ethics committees. The duration of the inclusions was 1 month. The sample size was calculated using EpiInfo software and was estimated to be 250 patients. Outpatients who agreed to participate in the study were interviewed face-to-face using a prevalidated questionnaire in Tunisian dialect. This questionnaire detailed sociodemographic data and information about the uses of medicinal plants. The collection site was the outpatient pharmacy. Statistical analysis was performed using PSPP.
Results The interview time was 1 to 5 min. A total of 336 patients were recruited. The average age was 52±13 years. The gender ratio (M/F) was 0.66. Sixty-four patients (19%) were illiterate. Most of the patients came from the departments of internal medicine (30.1%), neurology (17%) and cardiology (16.1%). One hundred and eight (32.1%) confirmed using medicinal plants, and among them 103 (95%) believed that this allopathy alternative is effective and accessible. One hundred and five (97%) patients believed that medicinal plants are beneficial for them. The most cited plants by patients were rosemary (17%), thyme (15%) and verbena (5%). The most popular form of use was a decoction (80%). The patients affirmed that plant material was sourced from the market (72%) or by simple harvesting (26%).
Conclusion and relevance This study showed a high prevalence of medicinal plant use among Tunisian patients. Aromatic plants were the most used for therapeutic purposes. Although patients strongly believe in the efficacy of these products, it is essential to ask the question regarding their safety.
Conflict of interest No conflict of interest
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