Use and Awareness of Medicinal Plant and Phytotherapy among Undergraduate Students at School of Pharmacy - University of Chieti, Italy
European Journal of Medicinal Plants,
Aims: To investigate the awareness and the use of herbal products among undergraduate students of the School of Pharmacy in Chieti.
Study Design: From October 2013 to December 2013, students of the School of Pharmacy at University “G. d’Annunzio” in Chieti were invited by e-mail to respond to an online questionnaire about their knowledge and their personal experience in the use of herbal products. The filling of the questionnaire was possible through a specific Italian website. Anonymity and autonomy of the answers were fully guaranteed. The multi tasks online questionnaire was articulated in three main parts: demographic information, awareness of phytotherapy, and personal experience in the use of herbal products.
Results: A total of 548 questionnaires were collected. The age range of the students was between 18 and 31 years and they were mainly women (74.5%), which were also the typical herbal users (occasional use of complex herbal remedies to treat different diseases). Most herb usage was self-prescribed and undisclosed to physician, but under professional suggestion of pharmacist or herbalist.
Conclusion: Although some misconceptions about definition of phytotherapy and herb-based products were detected, undergraduate students result informed about perspective of use of herbal remedies. The use is wide distributed and the perception of usefulness is positive, as confirmed by strong interest in the continuous use. The use of herbal products without medical prescription could be consider as a potential health risk, but taking into account the health indications, the occasional use, and the strong influence of healthcare professionals suggestions, the use of phytotherapy could be considered as quite safe in the population studied. This study highlights the importance for the “pharmacists of the future” to have a good professional training in the field of medicinal plants (and phytotherapy) during the degree course in Pharmacy.