Research: RAVVEN and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 211

Abstract

RAVVEN and COLLEAGUES, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, The Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge, MA 02193, USA. sravven@cha.harvard.edu surveyed the use of herbal medicine by individuals with mental health disorders.

Background

Herbal medicine is widely used by individuals with mental health problems, although research on their health characteristics and health care utilization patterns-including concomitant treatment with conventional mental health care and psychotropic medication-remains limited.

Methodology

We gathered data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), a representative survey of US adults in which diagnoses of mental disorders were based on a fully structured diagnostic interview.

Results

Our analysis found that NCS-R respondents with mental disorders were significantly more likely to have used herbal medicines for mental health problems than respondents who did not meet criteria for a mental disorder. Users of herbal medicines for mental health problems were likely to utilize conventional health care as well, particularly conventional psychiatric medication. Herbal use also was associated with having multiple comorbid medical problems.

Conclusion

A substantial proportion of US adults use herbal medicine to treat mental health problems. Herbal medicine is frequently used concomitantly with conventional health care, including prescription psychotropic medication. Herbal use also is associated with having multiple chronic medical problems. These factors increase the potential for interactions between herbal medicines and psychiatric and non-psychiatric medications.

References

Ravven SE, Zimmerman MB, Schultz SK and Wallace RB. 12-month herbal medicine use for mental health from the national Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. 23(2):83-94. May 2011.

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