The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and the Morris Arboretum are jointly sponsoring a symposium on September 19-20, 2006 entitled Herbal Medicine: Perception, Practice and Rational Use. The symposium will bring together world-renowned experts in the field of herbal medicine. The broad range of topics to be addressed will include everything from a look at the history of herbal medicines and their potential role in future health care, to a discussion of the role that herbal medicines already play in today's pharmaceutical industry. Among other topics the symposium will address: the use of plants in clinical practice; determining the benefits or potential harm of using various herbal remedies; rational approaches for proper use; informing the public about the possible risks and benefits of using herbal medicines; perceptions health care providers and the lay public have of herbal medicine; and the role of botanical research in drug development.
The use of herbal medicines in the United States is becoming increasingly popular. Yet, because most American health care providers receive little or no formal training in herbal medicine, physicians and nurses are often unprepared to answer questions patients have about the efficacy or dangers of herbal medicines, either as supplements to more conventional treatment methods or as a stand-alone therapy to treat or prevent disease. Furthermore, patients are not always aware of the potential side effects many of these herbal remedies may have, particularly when combined with more conventional forms of medication.
"This is an excellent chance to explore the advantages and disadvantages of herbal medicine in a scientific way," said Dr. Arthur Rubenstein, MBBCh, Dean, School of Medicine, Executive Vice-President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System, and whose remarks will open the second day of symposium activities.