Although herbal medications have been used in medical therapy since the dawn of civilization, they have not undergone careful scientific assessment. Some herbal derivations are exceptional and have become standard therapy in cardiovascular disease; eg, digitalis, reserpine, and aspirin. The high prevalence of herbal use around the world and in the United States today may have a negative impact on patient care when herbal preparations are used in combination with medications ordered by healthcare providers who are not advised of the patient's use of herbs. Healthcare providers need to be familiar with all herbal medications in order to prevent potentially serious reactions between conventional and herbal medications. They should be asking patients about herbal use when first obtaining a medical history. Patients who use alternative therapies do not tell their healthcare providers about such use.

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