Factors associated with herbal therapy use by adults in the United States

Paula Gardiner, Robert Graham, Anna T.R. Legedza, Andrew C. Ahn, David M. Eisenberg, Russell S. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Objective • To examine the patterns of herbal therapy use among adults in the United States and to describe factors associated with herb use. Design • We examined the use of natural herbs from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). We analyzed factors associated with herb use and reasons for herb use with logistic regression. Results • Factors associated with herb use include the following: age (45-64 years old), being uninsured, being female, having a higher education, living in the West, using prescription medications or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and self-identified as "non-Hispanic other." Factors associated with no herb use include being non-Hispanic black and living in the South or Midwest. Seventy-two percent of those who used herbs used prescription medications, and 84% of those who used herbs also used an OTC medication in the prior 12 months. Among adults who used herbs, the most commonly mentioned were echinacea (41%), ginseng (25%), gingko (22%), and garlic (20%). The most frequent conditions for herb use were head or chest cold (30%), musculoskeletal conditions (16%), and stomach or intestinal illness (11%). Among those who used herbs in the prior year, factors associated with using herbs because conventional medical treatments were too expensive included being uninsured, having poor health, and being 25-44 years old. Conclusions • Nearly 1 in 5 people in the US population report using an herb for treatment of health conditions and/or health promotion. More than half did not disclose this information to a conventional medical professional.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-29
Number of pages8
JournalAlternative therapies in health and medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007

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