One In Three Doctors Recommends Herbal Supplements To Patients

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 16, 1998--Herbal supplements are now entering mainstream medical practice, with one in three primary care doctors recommending them to patients at least weekly, most frequently for people with mood and emotional complaints, according to a national survey released today.

Doctors also practice what they preach, with one in four doctors personally consuming herbal supplements, showed the survey released during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Family Physicians in San Francisco. The survey was sponsored by Pharmaton Natural Health Products, makers of a new, advanced hyperforin-rich St. John's Wort extract called MOVANA.

The herbal supplement doctors find most useful and effective is St. John's Wort (27 percent), which helps provide emotional balance, followed by ginkgo biloba (18 percent), which helps mental alertness.

"Primary care physicians are not as resistant to herbal supplements as some might think and, in fact, are recommending herbs and using them personally to a surprising degree," said Derrick DeSilva Jr., MD, a practicing internist who teaches at JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ, and is author of Ask The Doctor: Herbs & Supplements for Better Health (Interweave Press 1997).

The survey of herbal attitudes among family practitioners, general practitioners and internists revealed that doctors most frequently recommend herbs for people seeking emotional balance (20 percent). About as many doctors recommend herbal supplements for fatigue and lack of energy.

While patients seek advice about herbal supplements more frequently from younger doctors, it's the older doctors who are more likely to consume herbs themselves. Overall, 67 percent of patients ask doctors about dietary supplements at least once a week, with most questions directed at doctors age 50 and under (73 percent vs. 60 percent over age 50). At the same time, 28 percent of doctors personally use herbal supplements, with hig

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