Suggested resources to help primary care healthcare professionals find information on herbal medicines or dietary supplements

SPS resources

SPS has a variety of resources on complementary medicines which we recommend you check first. For example Considering the safety and interactions of turmeric and Cannabidiol oil – potential adverse effects

We also have guides to herbal medicine use in pregnancy and breastfeeding

If you cannot find the information you need in the resources listed, or your clinical scenario is complex, primary care health professionals can seek further advice from our Medicines Advice Service

Other primary resources

In addition to our own resources, we particularly recommend the following resources that are free to access:

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – About Herbs

MSKCC-About herbs is a US website with evidence-based monographs on herbal medicines. Monographs provide referenced information on uses (not just in cancer), mechanism of action, contraindications, adverse effects and interactions. For each monograph, information is presented in two sections: one for patients and caregivers, one for healthcare professionals.

SPCs/SmPCs and PILs

Summaries of Product Characteristics (SPCs/SmPCs) and Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) available via electronic Medicines Compendium and MHRA. Some herbal preparations are classified as “traditional herbal medicinal products” and have MHRA-approved SmPCs and PILs. For example some brands of St Johns’ Wort tablets, agnus castus capsules, echinacia tablets and tea tree oil.

NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS)

Some CKS topics include advice on complementary medicines, for example menopause, premenstrual syndrome and osteoarthritis. This information is often included in ‘Basis for recommendation’ boxes within the text.

Training resources

If you would like more information on how to approach answering questions on complementary medicines we recommend:


Our guide to Handling questions about herbal medicines (or dietary supplements) and conventional medicines advises healthcare professionals how to tackle questions about interactions between complementary and conventional medicines.

Medicines Learning Portal

The Medicines Learning Portal is aimed at trainee hospital pharmacists but the content is also relevant to clinical primary care healthcare professionals. The portal includes an alternative medicine which provides advice on:

  • questions to ask when considering questions relating to alternative medicines
  • differences between herbal medicine, homeopathy and dietary supplementation

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