Use and Safety Perception of Herbal Remedies in Patients With Liver/Biliary Tract Disorders: An Italian Study

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Abstract

Background

Use of herbal remedies (HR) has increased in the general population, particularly among patients with chronic diseases. Marketing of HR is usually regulated by imperfect standards, and the reporting of HR-related adverse reactions has increased. Studies assessing prevalence of HR use among patients with liver/biliary tract disorders are limited and no data are available in Italy. Aims of this study were to assess the prevalence of HR use, the clinical and demographic variables of HR users, and to evaluate their safety perception about HR.

Study

From October 1, 2007 to April 30, 2008, 231 consecutive patients attending the Liver Disease Unit clinic at Sant'Andrea Hospital, II Faculty of Medicine “La Sapienza” Rome, were interviewed using an ad hoc developed questionnaire. The questionnaire addressed the following items: demographic and clinical characteristics, use of conventional therapy, use of HR and safety perception. Data were expressed as mean (±SD) or number/total, and evaluated by student t and χ2 tests; univariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression (MLR) were conducted.

Results

Prevalence of HR use was 35.5%. HR use was more common among women (P=0.01), and in patients attending sports activity (P=0.03). 72% of patients using HR had never considered potentially harmful HR-side effects or interactions. Sixty-seven percent used HR in addition to conventional therapy.

Conclusions

More than a third of patients attending Liver/Biliary Disorders Clinic uses HR. Misconceptions about HR safety is common.

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