Herbal Supplement Use Among Adolescent and Young Adult Women in a Family Planning Clinic

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2023 Dec 6:S1083-3188(23)00453-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2023.11.012. Online ahead of print.


Study objective: We aimed to evaluate herbal medicine and supplement use patterns among adolescent and young adult women at a clinic focused on family planning.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of patients (age 14-25) at an adolescent Title X clinic. Participants completed an electronic survey that assessed herbal medicine and supplement use, baseline demographic characteristics, and current contraceptive method. We evaluated supplement-drug interactions using the Natural Medicines database Interaction Checker. Quantitative analyses were performed using χ2 and independent medians tests.

Results: We enrolled 99 participants with a median age of 20 (15-24) years. Overall, 42.4% of patients reported ever having used supplements or herbal medicines, with 29.9% of patients reporting current supplement or herbal medicine use. Patients with higher education and private insurance were more likely to report a history of and current supplement use (P < .05). The most common herbal supplements reported were green tea (n = 26), cannabidiol (n = 17), and cranberry (n = 16), with 29.6% of participants reporting use to their general health care provider. The most common reasons for use were general health and wellness (29.1%), immune support (23.2%), stress (16.8%), and menstrual irregularities (6.0%). We found 62 moderate risk supplement-drug interactions, with 50 interactions attributed to hormonal contraceptive therapies. The most common interactions were via cytochrome P450 enzyme (CYP3A4 or CYP1A2) inhibition, decreased caffeine clearance, and potential hepatotoxicity.

Conclusion: Adolescent and young adult women frequently reported past and current herbal medicine and supplement use, with high rates of moderate-risk supplement-drug interactions. Further research is needed to better elucidate these clinically relevant supplement-contraception interactions.

Keywords: Adolescent; Contraception; Contraception interactions; Herbal supplements.