Family doctors value herbal medicines

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Most general practitioners value herbal medicines

With a few exceptions, doctors in Germany have not been able to prescribe herbal medicinal products based on a statutory health insurance prescription for seven years now. Phytopharmaceuticals are enjoying growing esteem, especially in general practice. This is by no means paradoxical, Prof. Dr. Ferdinand M. Gerlach, director of the University Institute for General Medicine in Frankfurt in Munich: The "typical" patients of the family doctor - these are mainly older people, often with several complaints - because of their good tolerability, phytopharmaceuticals are particularly important. The proportion of people who use natural remedies rose from 52 percent to 72 percent between 1970 and 2020.

However, natural medicine is also becoming more and more respected by doctors, reported Prof. Gerlach. The numbers are convincing:

- The number of physicians with the additional title "naturopathic treatment" (phytotherapy is part of this training) more than tripled within 15 years from 5,000 to 15,296.

- In a survey of 1,027 general practitioners, more than half of them reported using phytotherapy in practice. 11 percent of the general practitioners were negative about complementary medicine, only 3 percent were very negative.

- According to a further study based on 101,500 medical practitioners, 93 percent of them are positive about phytotherapy, only 7 percent can do without it.

Prof. Gerlach advocates an intensification of drug research in the "real world", in the family practice. Over 90 percent of the people are looked after here and, unlike in hospitals, it is often patients with chronic illnesses. For example, 56 percent of those over 70 years of age need five or more medications at the same time.

The use of phytopharmaceuticals could reduce the risk of undesirable medicinal effects and interactions and strengthen the adherence to therapy and the trusting doctor-patient relationship, according to the Frankfurt chair holder, who is also President of the German Society for General Medicine and Family Medicine (DEGAM). (KFN 05/2011)

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