Pharmacists encouraged to learn more about herbal supplements


HealthDay News – Pharmacists should be aware of the increasing use of supplements and should educate themselves about both supplements and possible drug interactions so that they can answer patient questions, according to an article published in Drug related topics.

The article indicates that a recent study in the Nutrition Journal found that 70% of Americans aged 60 and over report using a vitamin, mineral, herbal, or other supplement every day and 29% report using four or more per day. However, healthcare providers do not receive the training necessary to identify herb-drug interactions, herb-disease interactions, or other potential problems.

Pharmacy schools do not encourage the study of herbal medicine and therefore pharmacists lack the knowledge to answer questions about herbal medicine. Evidence-based resources are available and include the Natural Medicine Database and the American Botanical Council. Providers should encourage patients to report their use of herbal supplements, and then refer them to trusted, non-falsified brands. A drug interaction report should be run after the complete drug profile, including herbal or dietary supplements, has been recorded.

“While pharmacists can choose a prescription drug over a herbal dietary supplement, they should keep in mind what the patient wants and why they are taking a herbal or other supplement,” according to the report.

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