A health-care provider is taking questions from Canadians about which herbal medicine to take for asthma and other health problems.
A survey by the Canadian Medical Association says more than 20 per cent of Canadians have taken at least one herbal medicine and more than 40 per cent have taken more than one.
A recent study found the best treatment for asthma is to get the best possible dose of the medicine.
But a new survey from the Canadian Nurses Association says one in four of those taking their first shot of the anti-inflammatory drug passifloras has had a positive reaction to the drug.
“It’s important to remember that, even though there are fewer asthma patients than you might expect, asthma still is a serious condition and there are people who have died,” said Carol Ann Duffy, president and CEO of the Canadian Nursing Association.
“So it’s important that we have as much information as we can about what is being prescribed, and we need to be educated as to what exactly is being given and what can be taken,” she said.
Duffy is concerned that some people have been taking the anti-[passifloral] medicine without checking with their health- care providers.
“The concern that we’ve had is people who are taking the drug, and then they have an asthma attack and they’re told they should have tested for it or it was an allergic reaction, or they’re given a drug that is not as effective,” Duffy said.
“That’s not right, and there needs to be a thorough assessment to make sure it’s safe and effective.”
One in four people with asthma take at least a dose of passiflorasOne in four Canadians take at most one anti-inflammatoriesThe survey of 1,000 Canadians aged 15 to 74 found nearly 20 per, according to a news release.
The drug is prescribed for a range of conditions including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and rheumatic heart disease.
It is often prescribed to treat pain, fever, nausea and vomiting.
In a study of patients taking two different forms of the drug in the United States, more than half reported feeling some improvement, although it is not known whether the benefit is related to the drugs ability to help the heart beat.
Duffy said the association has been asking patients about their experience with the drug and whether they feel it is safe.
“If they say yes, that means they’re having some type of improvement in their symptoms and they need to take more, and if they say no, that’s where we need further information,” she told CBC News.
“We need to understand what the research is, what is the clinical trials, what are the clinical studies that are done on this drug.
And if we can have a better understanding of how it works and how it’s given to patients and how effective it is, we can be more informed about whether it’s worth it to take it.”
The survey also found that about one in five of those who took at least two shots of the pill have a positive asthma test.
Duffy hopes that information from the survey will be helpful in informing the prescribing community and making sure that people taking the pill are aware of the side effects.