The use of herbs has been advocated as an alternative treatment strategy for human immunodeficiency virus-related illness. To describe the use of medicinal herbs among acquired immunodeficiency syndrome clinic patients and to investigate possible toxic effects, we interviewed 114 randomly selected patients attending a university-based acquired immunodeficiency syndrome clinic and performed a structured review of the literature to identify potential adverse effects of herbal use. Twenty-five participants (22%) reported using one or more herbal products in the past 3 months. Of those taking herbs, six (24%) were unable to identify the herb that they had used. The mean number of herbal tablets taken was 4.5 tablets per day, and 12 patients (48%) reported taking herbs for longer than 90 days. The median cost to patients for their herbs was $18 per month. Of those taking herbs, five (20%) stated that their primary medical provider was unaware of their herb use, and four (16%) were involved in clinical drug trials while using herbs. Several patients reported taking herbs in doses at which potential adverse effects were identified in our literature review. These adverse effects include dermatitis, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, thrombocytopenia, coagulopathies, altered mental status, hepatotoxicity, and electrolyte disturbances. Seven patients (28%) reported experiencing symptoms that could have been caused by one or more of the herbal products that they were taking. Physicians and clinical investigators need to inquire about patients' use of herbs. Patient care and clinical trials could be distorted because pharmacologic effects of herbs can resemble commonly occurring symptoms in human immunodeficiency virus disorders as well as side effects of prescribed or investigational medications.
(Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:2281-2288)
Register and get free email Table of Contents alerts, saved searches, PowerPoint downloads, CME quizzes, and more
Subscribe for full-text access to content from 1998 forward and a host of useful features
Activate your current subscription (AMA members and current subscribers)
Purchase Online Access to this article for 24 hours
Thank you for submitting a comment on this article. It will be reviewed by JAMA Internal Medicine editors. You will be notified when your comment has been published. Comments should not exceed 500 words of text and 10 references.
Do not submit personal medical questions or information that could identify a specific patient, questions about a particular case, or general inquiries to an author. Only content that has not been published, posted, or submitted elsewhere should be submitted. By submitting this Comment, you and any coauthors transfer copyright to the journal if your Comment is posted.
* = Required Field
Disclosure of Any Conflicts of Interest*
Indicate all relevant conflicts of interest of each author below, including all relevant financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including, but not limited to, employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speakers’ bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued. If all authors have none, check "No potential conflicts or relevant financial interests" in the box below. Please also indicate any funding received in support of this work. The information will be posted with your response.
Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.
Download citation file:
Web of Science® Times Cited: 78
Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.
More Listings atJAMACareerCenter.com >
and access these and other features:
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a link to reset your password.
Enter your username and email address. We'll send instructions on how to reset your password to the email address we have on record.
Athens and Shibboleth are access management services that provide single sign-on to protected resources. They replace the multiple user names and passwords necessary to access subscription-based content with a single user name and password that can be entered once per session. It operates independently of a user's location or IP address. If your institution uses Athens or Shibboleth authentication, please contact your site administrator to receive your user name and password.