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Herbal Therapy in Dermatology

Monica K. Bedi, MD; Philip D. Shenefelt, MD
Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(2):232-242. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.2.232.
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Herbal therapy is becoming increasingly popular among patients and physicians. Many herbal preparations are marketed to the public for various ailments including those of the skin. Herbal therapies have been used successfully in treating dermatologic disorders for thousands of years in Europe and Asia. In Germany, a regulatory commission oversees herbal preparations and recommended uses. In Asia, herbal treatments that have been used for centuries are now being studied scientifically. Currently, the United States does not regulate herbal products, as they are considered dietary supplements. Therefore, there is no standardization of active ingredients, purity, or concentration. There are also no regulations governing which herbs can be marketed for various ailments. This has made learning about and using these treatments challenging. Information compiled in a practical fashion may enable more patients to benefit from these treatments currently used worldwide. We reviewed the herbal medications that show scientific evidence of clinical efficacy, as well as the more common herbs shown to be useful in the treatment of dermatologic disorders. The safety of each herb has been addressed to better enable the physician to know which herbal therapies they may want to begin to use in practice. Common drug interactions and side effects of herbal medicines that may be seen in the dermatologic setting were also studied.

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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