The use of herbal medicine by older Mexican Americans

J. A. Loera, S. A. Black, K. S. Markides, D. V. Espino, J. S. Goodwin

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Abstract

Background. Little is known about use of herbal medicines by older Mexican Americans. The objective of this study was to determine the characteristics among older Mexican Americans that correlate with use of herbal medicines. Methods. We administered a cross-sectional regional sample survey, the 1993-1994 Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly of Mexican Americans, by in-home interviews of noninstitutionalized older Mexican Americans age 65 and over living in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and California. Results. The use of herbal medicine in the 2 weeks prior to the interview was reported by 9.8% of the sample. Chamomile and mint were the two most commonly used herbs. Users of herbal medicines were more likely to be women, born in Mexico, over age 75, living alone, and experiencing some financial strain. Having arthritis, urinary incontinence, asthma, and hip fracture were also associated with an elevated use of herbal medicines, whereas heart attacks were not. We found that herbal medicine use was substantially higher among individuals reporting any disability in activities of daily living, poor self-reported health, and depressive symptoms. Herbal medicine use was associated with the use of over-the-counter medications but not with prescription medications. Herbal medicine use was particularly high among respondents who had over 24 physician visits during the year prior to interview. Conclusions. Herbal medication use is common among older Mexican Americans, particularly among those with chronic medical conditions, those who experience financial strain, and those who are very frequent users of formal health care services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)M714-M718
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume56
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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