Summary

Herbal therapy is the use of plants called herbs to treat symptoms and diseases. The government and the medical community do not regulate herbal therapies. This results in a lack of standards for the manufacture and sale of herbal therapies. The quality, purity, dosage, and side effects may be different for the same herb.

There are different forms of herbal therapies. These are oils, balms, creams, ointments, teas, tinctures, capsules, tablets, and syrups. Although herbs are available in these forms, some herbs should only be administered externally and not used internally.

While herbal therapies provide patients with a therapeutic effect, they can also leave the patient exposed to hazards. When combined with conventional therapies, herbal therapies can produce a toxic effect or an adverse reaction.

The nurse should ask if the patient is taking herbal therapies and, if so, for what condition. The patient should be taught about herbal therapies, the risks and benefits, and then given clear instructions on how to continue herbal therapies while undergoing conventional treatment—if approved by the patient's healthcare provider.

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