Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study


US households have an increasing number of people using herbal medications as common self treatments. According to Hodges & Kam (2002), 32-37% of Americans have used herbal medications in the last year. Schmidt (2004) states that 1 in 3 Americans consume herbal products each year. Between 1990 and 1997, the use of herbal medicines increased 380% (Ernst, 2004). The interactions between herbal medications and anesthetic drugs become more important and meaningful due to the wide spread use. There are currently 15 million adults in the United States at risk for a potential adverse interaction with a prescription medication and an herbal medication, with 3 million of them being over the age of 65 (O’Malley, Trimble, & Browning, 2004). Herbal products, which are classified as dietary supplements, are marketed and sold in the United States and are not required to have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval or regulation. It is not uncommon for herbs obtained outside North America and Europe to be contaminated or adulterated, some with conventional drugs (Forrelli, 2003).

The purpose of the study was to examine the background, manufacturing, contents of herbal medications, information on the side effects, recommendations for discontinuing use before surgery, and recommendations for advancement with herbal medications. With the information gathered, a pocket size reference card (see appendix) was assembled for quick reference by medical personnel, which will include the herbal medication, what it is used for, side effects, and interactions with prescription drugs. The specific herbal medications reviewed were chamomile, echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St John’s wort, and valerian. The study concluded with recommendations for nursing research, practice, education, and health policy.