To medicines were once at the forefront of

To
understand how herbals will affect my life, I would like to start by looking at
their origins and how their use has changed recently. Herbal medicines have a
very long and rich history, dating back thousands of years and having roots in
ancient Egyptian and Chinese cultures. While herbal medicines were once at the
forefront of healthcare in ancient societies such as these, they have recently
given way to today’s medication therapies which have predominantly taken the
form of synthetically produced drugs and monoclonal antibodies. However,
despite our recent innovations in drug therapy, the use of herbals is on the
rise. In the United States
alone, herbal use has increased significantly over the last 30 years. This is
reflected in a chart presented by Dr. Eisenberg detailing overall herbal use in
the U.S.
from 1990-2008. In the chart, he notes that in 1990 only 2.5% of Americans used
herbal therapy1,2, but by 2007 that number had increased nearly
8-fold to 18% of Americans.1,3 Although these numbers are
significant, they still leave a 10 year gap unfilled. To remedy this situation,
I found a study by Rashrash et al. titled Prevalence
and Predictors of Herbal Medicine Use Among Adults in the United States,
which was published in 2017. In the study, Rashrash and his colleagues found
that of the 26,157 people included in the study, 35% of them used at least 1
herbal medicine.4 While the data presented above only applies to the
United States, the rest of the world is showing similar trends. Many factors
could be contributing to this increase in herbal usage. One possible reason
could be linked to current prescription drug costs and patient’s frustration
with them. For these patients, herbals can provide a potential remedy at a
fraction of the cost. On top of this, more herbals are available today than
there were 30 years ago, and once again Dr. Eisenberg makes note of this in his
presentation. He indicates that prior to the passing of DSHEA in 1994, there
were only about 4,000 supplements available.1 However, by 2012 that
number had exploded to 55,000 and it can only be assumed that it is even larger
today.1 While this rise in herbal utilization, prevalence, and
spending may appear daunting due to our lack of knowledge about them, it does
provide pharmacists like me with a unique opportunity to broaden our medicinal
horizon. 

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