Handling questions about herbal medicines (or dietary supplements) and conventional medicines

· UKMi Quality and Risk Management Group

UKMi Quality and Risk Management Group

Increasingly, patients and healthcare professionals are faced with concerns about interactions between complementary and alternative medicines (CAM), and conventional medicines.

CAM that healthcare professionals are likely to come across with regards to drug interactions include herbal medicines, dietary supplements, and homeopathic preparations. Researching these questions can take a substantial amount of time if appropriate considerations and discussions do not take place initially.

This document aims to assist healthcare professionals in providing safe, effective and timely answers to such interaction questions, and provides a standardised approach, regardless of which resources are available. The document ensures that:

  • The appropriate background questions are asked regarding the patient’s medical history and drug history, in order to ascertain whether the question can be answered in the first instance.
  • The CAM and interaction data are researched using UKMi recommended resources.
  • The answer given includes the rationale behind the advice and the caveats around the use of CAM with conventional medicines.

This guidance has been separated into two parts:

  • Part A is aimed at healthcare professionals in general.
  • Part B has additional information aimed at medicines information (MI) staff.

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