Use of herbal medicines: Pilot survey of UK users' views

Complement Ther Med. 2019 Jun;44:83-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2019.02.007. Epub 2019 Feb 16.


Increasing sales of medicinal plants as supplements or health foods continue to indicate widespread self-medication. We conducted a survey on users' views on obtaining information on herbal medicines and their experiences and opinions about their use. Responses over one-year period (01.08.2015-31.07.2016) were analysed. 157 participants took part (87% aged 45-64y, and 13% >65y). 80% participants used medicinal plants for multiple health benefits [i.e. health protection (74%), disease prevention (38%) and treatment (49%]). 95% believed in the medicinal powers of plants. Information regarding use of medicinal plants was predominantly based on books (57%), the internet (53%), friends, colleagues or neighbours (51%) and health practitioners (42%). 51% of participants felt herbs were safe (51%) with less side effects (55%) than pharmaceutical medicines. 24% of medicinal plant users informed their medical doctor, with majority of informed medical professional (47%) accepting the use of medicinal plants. This pilot survey provides new and valuable information for use in designing future more comprehensive surveys to provide essential information about the use of herbal medicines by the general population and health care providers' attitudes in the UK.

Keywords: Health; Herbal medicine; Medicinal plants; Questionnaire; Survey.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Herbal Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult


  • Plant Preparations