Complementary and alternative medicine use has been increasing worldwide. Although many studies have attempted to elucidate the levels of herbal medicine use in certain communities, many factors have led to limitations on the data collected. Self-report surveys are currently the only studies that have been done to quantify the actual use of herbal medications to date. This project uses a more comprehensive and objective means of examining the use of herbal medications in the state of New Mexico. Data from deaths investigated by the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator were examined to determine a more accurate picture of herbal use in New Mexico. Examining 1,112 deaths investigated during the first six months of 2006, we found that 5% of deaths had herbal medications or supplements present within the residence, with 4.6% having 3 or more supplements. Decedents with three or more prescription/OTC drugs found at the death scene were 3.03 times more likely to have three or more supplements as well, compared to those with two or fewer prescription/OTC drugs found on scene. The most commonly identified health complaints of patients in this study were hypertension, cardiac conditions and diabetes. Although the study was possibly limited by variations in the collection of data at scene investigations, the potential adverse interactions of herbal supplements with other medications warrants additional investigation.
Gober, Brianne; Sarah Lathrop; and Rebecca Irvine. "The frequency of herbal medications and supplements in a series of medical examiner scene investigations." (2008). http://digitalrepository.unm.edu/ume-research-papers/6