Picking, D.; Younger, Novie O..; Mitchell, Sylvia A.; Delgoda, Rupika.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
The prevalence of herbal medicine home use in rural and urban communities in Jamaica.
Journal of Ethnophaarmacology
Date of Publication
Also in West Indian Medical Journal 59: 4 (2010)
To study the prevalence of herbal medicine home use in the treatment of specific illnesses and concomitant use of herbs with pharmaceutical medicines in both rural and urban communities in Jamaica. A total of 407 people were invited to participate in the survey across three locations: Kingston, Dallas in St Andrew and Flagstaff in St. James, using a structured questionnaire developed by the authors. Enumeration districts (clusters) were randomly selected from each location followed by systematic selection of households from each of which one randomly selected adult was interviewed. Categorical data analysis was carried out using Stata version 10 (StataCorp, 2008). Of 407 people invited to participate 372 (91.4%) agreed and were included in the study. 72.6% (270/372) indicated their use of herbs to treat illness in the previous 12 months. The conditions most commonly self-medicated were illnesses of the respiratory system (RS-77.8% (210)), illnesses of the gastro-intestinal tract (GI Tract-53.3% (144)), and the maintenance of health using herbal tonics (29.6% (80)). Within the population of 270 herbal users, 26.7% (72) indicated their concomitant use of herbs and pharmaceutical drugs with the most commonly self-medicated conditions for this sub-population being illnesses of the RS (20.4% (55)), GI Tract (13.7% (37)) and hypertension (10.0% (27)). Also, within this sub-population only 19% (14) indicated that their medical practitioner was aware of their self-medication with herbs concomitantly with pharmaceutical drugs. There was significant association of herb use with/without drugs with age (p<0.001) and employment status (p<0.001). Prevalence of herb use was lowest in the youngest age group (18-24 yrs) and larger percentages of 35-44 and 45-54 year-olds used herbs alone while concomitant herb-drug use was highest in persons 65 and older. Prevalence of herb use was lowest amongst students compared with the employed while concomitant herb-drug use was highest in the retired persons. There was also statistically significant association of herb use with educational level (p = 0.031), gender (p = 0.02), possession of health insurance (p = 0.007) and religion (p = 0.004). Area of residence (urban/rural), reading level, occupation and household crowding were not significant correlates of herb use. Self-medication with herbs is highly prevalent in both urban and rural communities in Jamaica. The use of herbs is highest for self-limiting conditions of the respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract and for the maintenance of health with tonic herbs. Concomitant herb-drug use is most commonly employed for self-limiting conditions of the respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract and for hypertension treatment but amongst health care professionals there is a low level of awareness of this practice.....