Utilization of herbal medicines among diabetic patients attending KenyattaNational Hospital outpatient clinic
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World Health Organization has estimated that 70-90 % of Africa's population still relies on herbal remedies in order to meet their healthcare needs. Although the role of herbal medicines in the management of diabetes is an emerging health issue, use of herb remedies is common among diabetics. General objective: To evaluate knowledge, perception and describe the pattern of utilization of herbal medicines among diabetic outpatients at Kenyatta National Hospital. Study design, setting and methodology: The study was a tertiary hospital-based cross sectional study. Simple random sampling technique was used to select 251 adult diabetic outpatients. Patients who gave informed consent and also met the inclusion criteria were enrolled into the study. Data was obtained from the participants by use of questionnaires. Data Management and Analysis: Data was captured into Microsoft Excel computer software and then exported to SPSS version 17.0 for analysis. Descriptive data was analyzed quantitatively and presented as numbers, percentages, means, medians and inter quartile ranges and in form of charts and tables as appropriate. Statistical significance was determined using Pearson Chi Square at p<0.05. Chi-Square was performed on the discrete variables to test for associations using the level of significance at 0.05. Where numbers of participants were too small, Fishers exact results were used. Results: The prevalence of use of herbal remedies for managing diabetes was 7.2%. However, the total prevalence of use of herbs among the diabetic outpatients was 39.5% implying that 32.3% of the study participants 'used herbs for other medical conditions. The commonest herbs used were ginger and aloe vera used by 50% of the herbal users. Almost half of the herb users did not regard it important to inform the doctor about their use of herbs. The reasons given for use of herbal medicines were varied; the commonest being that herbs could easily be accessed 13 (13.1%) of the herbal users. There was no statistically significant relationship between socio-demographic characteristics and use of herbs (P>0.05). Conclusion: About 40% of diabetic outpatients are in some form of herbal remedy. In addition, lout of 5 of diabetic herbal users use them for managing diabetes; commonest herbs being aloe vera and ginger. Therefore, healthcare workers and researchers should find ways of harmonizing the utilization of herbal and conventional medicines amongst diabetic patients.