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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(8), 9639-9657; doi:10.3390/ijerph120809639

Prevalence of Polyherbacy in Ambulatory Visits to Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinics in Taiwan

1
Department of Family Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, No. 201, Sec. 2, Shi-Pai Road, Taipei 112, Taiwan
2
School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, No. 155, Sec. 2, Linong Street, Taipei 112, Taiwan
3
Department of Family Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taoyuan branch, No. 100, Sec. 3, Cheng Kung Road, Tao Yuan 330, Taiwan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: William Cho
Received: 27 June 2015 / Revised: 6 August 2015 / Accepted: 7 August 2015 / Published: 14 August 2015
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Abstract

Patients with a polyherbal prescription are more likely to receive duplicate medications and thus suffer from adverse drug reactions. We conducted a population-based retrospective study to examine the items of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) per prescription in the ambulatory care of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in Taiwan. We retrieved complete TCM ambulatory visit datasets for 2010 from the National Health Insurance database in Taiwan. A total of 59,790 patients who received 313,482 CHM prescriptions were analyzed. Drug prescriptions containing more than five drugs were classified as polyherbal prescriptions; 41.6% of patients were given a polyherbal prescription. There were on average 5.2 ± 2.5 CHMs: 2.3 ± 1.1 compound herbal formula items, and 3.0 ± 2.5 single Chinese herb items in a single prescription. Approximately 4.6% of patients were prescribed 10 CHMs or more. Men had a lower odds ratio (OR) among polyherbal prescriptions (OR = 0.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.92–0.99), and middle-aged patients (35–49 years) had the highest frequency of polyherbal prescription (OR = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.13–1.26). Patients with neoplasm, skin and subcutaneous tissue disease, or genitourinary system disease were more likely to have a polyherbal prescription; OR = 2.20 (1.81–2.67), 1.65 (1.50–1.80), and 1.52 (1.40–1.64), respectively. Polyherbal prescription is widespread in TCM in Taiwan. Potential herb interactions and iatrogenic risks associated with polyherbal prescriptions should be monitored. View Full-Text
Keywords: traditional Chinese medicine; polypharmacy; polyherbacy; drug interaction; complementary and alternative medicine; National Health Insurance traditional Chinese medicine; polypharmacy; polyherbacy; drug interaction; complementary and alternative medicine; National Health Insurance
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Lin, M.-H.; Chang, H.-T.; Tu, C.-Y.; Chen, T.-J.; Hwang, S.-J. Prevalence of Polyherbacy in Ambulatory Visits to Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinics in Taiwan. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 9639-9657.

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