Herbal Therapy and the Nursing Process

Nurses need to include a discussion about the patient's use of nonconventional therapeutic agents by name, dosage, frequency, side effects and why the patient is taking this remedy in the nursing assessment. This assessment should include information about all prescription and over-the-counter medications taken by the patient and why the patient is taking these drugs. Herbal medications, over the counter medications, and prescribed medications can combine to create undesirable results and in some cases can have a toxic and dangerous effect on the patient.

After assessing the patient, the nurse considers a nursing diagnosis that is related to herbal therapies. These are:

• Knowledge deficit. The patient may be unaware of the impact herbal therapies have on the patient's health.

• Altered nutrition. The patient may be unaware of how herbal therapies alter the patient's nutritional balance.

• Side effects. The patient might be experiencing nausea, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, and other symptoms that are side effects of herbal therapies.

• Toxicity. The patient might be experiencing a toxic effect as a result of interactions of herbal therapies with prescribed medications.

• Alteration in skin integrity. The patient might have developed a reaction to the herbal therapy such as a rash.

After choosing a nursing diagnosis that is related to herbal therapy, the nurse plans for the proper intervention. The goals are:

1. The patient will verbalize an understanding of the risks of herbal therapy.

2. The patient will verbalize an understanding of the interaction between herbal therapy and conventional therapy.

The nurse intervenes by:

• Monitoring the patient's response to conventional and herbal therapy looking for adverse side effects.

• Consulting with dietitians and other healthcare specialists to assure that the patient's nutrition remains balanced.

• Telling the patient to continue with the same brand of herbs and to notify the healthcare provider if there is a change in brand.

• Teaching the patient to o Understand the rationale for herbal therapy, o Notifying healthcare providers if he or she plans to substitute herbals for conventional therapies, o Read all labels, o Review the optimal storage for the herbal remedy, o Know what foods increase or decrease the action of the herbs, o Review the potential side effects, symptoms that require prompt reporting to healthcare provider, and the correct preparation for use of herbals.

• Evaluating the patient for the effectiveness of herbal remedies for alleviating symptoms and the patient's knowledge regarding the use of herbals.

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