Most patients who use folk medicine do not tell their doctors

National 1 minute, 35 seconds


THE majority of locals using traditional medicine do not report this when meeting doctors, signifying a need for better communication between both parties to avoid any adverse reactions, according to a survey published last year.

The study, which reports the results of 2,400 questionnaires given to local and permanent residents at tertiary hospitals and health centres across the country in 2007, showed that 59 per cent had taken traditional medicine in some form during their lifetime; 94 per cent claimed there were no adverse reactions from their use.

“The lack of regulation and perception of traditional medicine being safe needs extra caution to avoid any potential adverse herb-drug interactions.

“Medical and healthcare workers should not ignore this perception – and patient education is of the utmost importance,” the study said.

Although 35 per cent of those surveyed rated conventional medicine as better, 24 per cent maintained that a combination of traditional and conventional was best - with the vast majority respondents citing “general health and vitality” as the main reason behind their use of traditional medicine.

The study said that most of the herbs consumed are “intrinsically fairly safe” – but lack of regulation, quality and discovery of toxic metals in some products have raised questions about their safety.

Consumption was highest in those aged 56 and above, with 82 per cent of users reporting that they spent less than $50 a month on traditional medicines.

For Bruneians locally-sourced herbs were the preferred option, with those of Malay ethnicity choosing herbs from Malaysia and Indonesia as second and third choices respectively. Chinese respondents preferred traditional Chinese medicine.

There was no significant difference in the consumption of the medicines between ethnic groups.

The study - published in the Homeopathy & Ayurvedic Medicine Journal – also suggested that use and implications of traditional medicine be included in the curriculum for medical students.

The Ministry of Health has set up a traditional medicine unit to regulate these practices.

The Brunei Times