One In Three Doctors Recommends Herbal Supplements To Patients

September 16, 1998

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 16, 1998--Herbal supplements are now entering mainstream medical practice, with one in three primary care doctors recommending them to patients at least weekly, most frequently for people with mood and emotional complaints, according to a national survey released today.

Doctors also practice what they preach, with one in four doctors personally consuming herbal supplements, showed the survey released during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Family Physicians in San Francisco. The survey was sponsored by Pharmaton Natural Health Products, makers of a new, advanced hyperforin-rich St. John's Wort extract called MOVANA.

The herbal supplement doctors find most useful and effective is St. John's Wort (27 percent), which helps provide emotional balance, followed by ginkgo biloba (18 percent), which helps mental alertness.

"Primary care physicians are not as resistant to herbal supplements as some might think and, in fact, are recommending herbs and using them personally to a surprising degree," said Derrick DeSilva Jr., MD, a practicing internist who teaches at JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ, and is author of Ask The Doctor: Herbs & Supplements for Better Health (Interweave Press 1997).

The survey of herbal attitudes among family practitioners, general practitioners and internists revealed that doctors most frequently recommend herbs for people seeking emotional balance (20 percent). About as many doctors recommend herbal supplements for fatigue and lack of energy.

While patients seek advice about herbal supplements more frequently from younger doctors, it's the older doctors who are more likely to consume herbs themselves. Overall, 67 percent of patients ask doctors about dietary supplements at least once a week, with most questions directed at doctors age 50 and under (73 percent vs. 60 percent over age 50). At the same time, 28 percent of doctors personally use herbal supplements, with higher use among physicians over age 50 (35 percent vs. 20 percent age 50 and under). On average these doctors have been using herbal supplements for 5 years, and they are most popular among family physicians (39 percent vs. 25 percent for general practitioners vs. 18 percent for internists).

Personal experience with dietary supplements strongly influences a doctor's willingness to recommend them to patients. Overall, 33 percent of doctors recommended herbs to their patients each week, with those who use supplements themselves twice as likely to suggest them for their patients (57 percent vs. 23 percent who do not use herbs themselves).

The telephone survey of 153 doctors nationwide was conducted by Bruskin/Goldring Research of Edison, NJ, from July 30 to Aug. 14, 1998. The margin of error is plus or minus 8 percent.

Pharmaton Natural Health Products, of Ridgefield, CT, is committed to bringing safe, effective, standardized, clinically tested, dietary supplements to the U.S. marketplace. As a leader in the category, the company's mission is to enhance the reputation and growth of the natural health care industry as a whole. Part of that charge is to adhere to the guidelines set forth in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and to self-police the industry for unfair or misleading marketing tactics. Pharmaton Natural Health Products is the U.S. consumer products division of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and is part of the Boehringer Ingelheim worldwide group of companies, based in Ingelheim-on-the-Rhine, Germany. Boehringer Ingelheim is a major pharmaceutical, chemical and animal health company with operations in 160 countries around the world. Currently, its GINKOBA and GINSANA brands are among the top-selling brands in the United States.
Barbara Goldberg
Creamer Dickson Basford
(212) 367-6849 (NY Office)
(415) 772-5000 (SF Hotel)

James Heins
For Pharmaton
Natural Health Products
(203) 798-4715

Creamer Dickson Basford

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