Few doctor routinely prescribe ‘natural medicines’ and that is remedy for an estimated one-third of the U.S population.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, more doctors may soon prescribe zinc for the common cold or St. John’s wort for depression. The awareness of acupuncture and herbal remedies can make doctors easier to discuss with their patients. Moreover, the study shows, more than half of medical schools in the United States offer courses in ‘alternative’ therapies.
“Roughly three-fourths of those who use alternative therapies never mention this to their doctors,” said Dr. David Eisenberg of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “So it’s my sense that the current status quo, which could easily be described as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ is obsolete and needs to be abandoned.”
Many doctors want the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require the same level of scientific proof of natural medicines the FDA requires of prescription drugs. In addition, the FDA has authority limitation to regulate botanical or herbal treatments.
In Germany, the alternative medicine industry is regulated by the government.
Germany’s Commission E requires natural medicine manufacturers to prove their products are safe and effective in much the same way the FDA controls prescription drugs in the United States.