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Parents may be reaching more for home remedies

May 26, 2003|Dianne Partie Lange

Parents may be relying on home remedies and herbal treatments more than doctors suspect.

In the first study to examine parents' familiarity with herbal effects and interactions, Emory University researchers surveyed families in an Atlanta emergency room for three months. They found that nearly half of the 142 families surveyed had given a child at least one herbal product during the last year and 27% had given three or more.

However, 66% were not aware that the substances could interact with medications. One child, for example, had been given the potentially dangerous combination of ephedra and an asthma drug. Another who was taking a medication to suppress immunity also was taking echinacea, which is thought to stimulate the immune system.

At the top of the list of commonly used remedies was aloe plant or aloe juice, followed by echinacea and sweet oil, a mix of vegetable and mineral oils used for earaches.

"We were surprised at the lack of understanding parents had of these products," says lead author Dr. Steven L. Lanski, assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency room medicine Emory University and Children's Health Care of Atlanta.

This study was published in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics.

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-- Dianne Partie Lange

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