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Use of medicinal herbs by patients with severe asthma managed at a Referral Center

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that may lead to limitations in regular activities, to hospitalizations and a decrease in quality of life. Adherence to drug treatment is crucial for control of the disease. The use of medicinal herbs can reduce adherence to prescriptions, as the medication may be replaced by infusions or herbal products. The objective of this study was to evaluate the frequency of use of traditional herbal medicine among severe asthmatics in Salvador. Information on use of homemade remedies was obtained through application of a questionnaire during patient visits to a referral center. We also collected data on economic and social aspects as well as disease control. One hundred and forty-four (91,1%) out of one hundred and fifty-eight patients evaluated used herbal medicines, but only 26.5% attributed improvement of asthma symptoms to this alternative treatment and only 8 had substituted a prescribed medication by herbal medicines. There was a trend towards lower adherence to prescription drug treatment in this group of patients. Despite the high frequency of use of medicinal herbs in our sample, there was no improvement in the asthma treatment in this population compared to non-users. Adherence to conventional drug treatment was satisfactory and there was neither reduction in asthma control nor increase in hospitalizations among the users of medicinal plants.

Asthma; Medicinal herbs

Universidade de São Paulo, Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes, n. 580, 05508-000 S. Paulo/SP Brasil, Tel.: (55 11) 3091-3824 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil