Using herbal medicine, as one element of complementary and alternative medicine, is growing worldwide. This analysis derives insights for using herbal medicine in Germany concerning the usage goals, role played by the sort of illness, reasons for preferred usage and sources of advice.
The Method Employed
Two groups with young, middle-aged and older participants, respectively.
It was discovered that treating disorders was the most often discussed goal for using herbal medicine over all age classes. Preventing illnesses and promoting health were less frequently mentioned overall but were significant for older folks. Discussions on herbal medication were correlated with either mild/moderate ailments or using herbal medicine as a starting treatment before employing conventional medicine. In this context, participants highlighted the limits of herbal medication for severe illnesses. Dissatisfaction with traditional therapy, past good experiences, positive aspects related to herbal medicine, in addition to family traditions were the commonly-mentioned reasons why herbal medicine was favoured as treatment. About information sources, independent reading and family traditions are equally or even more important than consulting medicinal specialists.
Although herbal medicine is used mostly for treating mild to moderate illnesses and participants were conscious of its limitations, the mixture of self-medication, non-expert consultation and lacking risk awareness of herbal medicine is potentially harmful. This is very relevant for older users, as, though they seemed to be more mindful of medical issues, they generally use more medication compared to younger ones. In light of finding that dissatisfaction with conventional medicine was the main reason for the personal use of herbal medicine, government bodies, physicians, and pharmaceutical companies will need to know about this issue and should aim to establish a specific degree of awareness among users about this situation.