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Herbals Not the Answer for Asthma, Study Shows

Patients using alternative remedies more likely to misuse prescribed drugs, suffer flareups

FRIDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Many asthma patients who use herbal remedies experience increased symptoms and poorer quality of life, a new study shows.

Researchers followed 326 asthma patients for 33 months. Of those patients, 25 percent said they used herbal remedies and used prescribed inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) less often than other patients.

The patients who used herbal remedies were younger, more likely to have been hospitalized or intubated for asthma, have concerns about possible adverse effects of ICS, and have difficulty following a medication schedule.

"Results indicate patients using herbal remedies are less likely to take their prescribed medications. These patients report worse asthma control and poorer quality of life than patients who follow medication plans. Underuse of prescribed medication is one of the main factors contributing to poor outcomes in asthma patients," study author Dr. Angkana Roy, of the pediatrics department at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said in a news release.

The study appears in the February issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

"Patients interested in herbal remedies need to use them to complement treatment and not as an alternative, or they will not maximize their health and may actually hinder it as this study shows," Dr. Leonard Bielory, chairman of the integrative medicine committee at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, said in the news release.

"Remember, asthma is a serious disease and needs to be treated that way. Always ask your allergist about medication concerns and discuss use of herbal remedies," Bielory added.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about asthma.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, Feb. 2, 2010

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