J Transpl Coord. 1997 Sep; 7(3): 123-30.
Survey of alternative medicine use among organ transplant patients.
INOVA Fairfax Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Falls Church, Va., USA.
Herbal medicine and health food supplements have become increasingly popular. However, many of these pharmacologically active compounds remain poorly understood. Patients with chronic and life-threatening conditions often use alternative therapies while receiving conventional medical care, and his population is at increased risk for complications and adverse drug interactions due to poor health and complex drug regimens. Patients awaiting or who had received solid organ transplants were surveyed about their use of herbal medicines and health food supplements. Twenty percent of respondents acknowledged experience with these products, which they used to prolong the function of a failing organ or to obtain relief from fatigue and insomnia. Transplant staff often were unaware of their patients' use of these treatments, despite patients' claims to the contrary. The potential for unexpected drug interactions, toxicity, and other adverse reactions resulting from the use of herbal medicines or supplements must be recognized and identified by transplant teams.