During the last two decades, the use of alternative medicine in the United States has noticeably increased. The percentage of Americans who use herbs and other related products has risen from 33.8% to 42.1% since 1997 and it is believed that it has increased even more today. Majority of the Hispanic community believe that herbal remedies are just as safe and effective as prescription medicines. Thus, they continue to use and follow such herbal medicament for all sorts of illnesses.
Herbal medicines are being sold in markets and its sale level increases by 20% annually as compared to prescription medicines. The use of herbal treatments is not only patronized by Latinos because even financially well-off whites are fond of purchasing these products too. Generally, herbal products that are sold in the country are dietary supplements that are regulated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education.
Safety, Effectiveness and Risks
The good thing about herbal remedies is that they undergo rigorous clinical tests and post-approval processes before they are sold in retail pharmacies. This is to ensure their safety and effectiveness. However, the scientific data to support such claim is not readily available to clinical practitioners. This suggests that herbal remedies may worsen some medical problems and conditions so make sure to consult your physician first.
Although the use of herbal remedies has increased in the U.S., there’s the speculation that adverse reaction to such treatments are under recognized and under reported. Herbs that are orally used constitute greater risks as compared to non-ingested treatments. You have to be very careful in taking such products as herbs may be therapeutic at a certain dose but can be toxic when taken too much.
Also, herbal remedies may have negative reactions with prescription drugs. The interaction between the two may either increase or decrease the pharmacological and toxicological effects of either medication that may result in complication. It is important that you communicate such information to your doctor to avoid the danger between herb-drug interactions.
Herbs for Chronic Conditions
Research has been done to prove the efficiency of herbal remedies not only for minor illnesses but also chronic conditions. The results usually reveal some positive and some potentially alarming effects of utilizing herbal or alternative treatments in the Hispanic community. On a good note, just walking into a retail store that sells herbal products is already a healing experience. The aroma from burning incense sticks is soothing and relaxing. In general, botanicas are vital purveyors of health care and well-being among the Latinos. However, if you are considering getting herbal remedies make sure that you also ask about possible side effects. Majority of the ‘healers’ who sell these products do not volunteer to offer relevant facts about herbs and their risky interactions with prescription medicine.