Objective: To examine the clinical practices and perceptions of herbalists providing patient care concurrently with conventional medical practice. Method: A postal survey was sent to all full members of the National Herbalists’ Association of Australia (NHAA). There were 649 members in practice at the time of the survey and the total response rate was 58.2%. Results: Most of the patients who visit professional herbalists seek care for chronic conditions have been medically diagnosed and continue to consult a general practitioner (GP). Study findings indicate that many patients who visit herbalists are taking herbal and pharmaceutical medicines concurrently. Therapists reported a high rate of referral to GPs for medical diagnosis,treatment and/or prescription. The majority of herbalists also routinely include a pharmaceutical case history as part of their consultation and patients are encouraged to inform their GPs if they are taking any herbal therapies. The majority of herbalists reported a need for closer collaboration and cooperation with the medical community in the future. Conclusion: Herbalists in Australia are fully aware of the value of medical diagnosis and interreferrals, are well informed about patient medications and require a closer working relationship with the medical community. Further research is needed to investigate potential interactions between herbal and pharmaceutical medicines to maintain high safety standards for the public.
Complementary Therapies in Medicine Vol. 16, Issue 4, p. 228-232