Herbal remedies and functional foods used by cancer patients attending specialty oncology clinics in Trinidad
Abstract Background Cancer is a major disease worldwide, and many patients use complementary and alternative treatments. The purpose of this study was to identify the herbal remedies and functional foods used as complementary medicine by prostate, breast and colorectal cancer patients at speciality care facilities in Trinidad. We also sought to determine how patients rated the efficacy of these modalities compared with conventional treatment. Methods A descriptive, cross-sectional survey was conducted using an interviewer-administered pilot-tested de novo questionnaire during the period June to August 2012 at two speciality treatment centres on the island. Data was analysed using χ2 analyses. Results Among the 150 patients who reported use of herbal remedies/functional foods, soursop (Annona muricata L.) was the most popular; with 80.7 % using the leaves, bark, fruit and seeds on a regular basis. Other common herbal remedies/functional foods included wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum L.), saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. The most commonly used functional foods were beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.), carrots (Daucus carata L.) and papaya (Carica papaya L.) used by 43.3 % of patients; and these were mostly blended as a mixture. Herbal remedies and functional foods were used on a daily basis and patients believed that this modality was equally (32.0 %) or more efficacious (14.7 %) than conventional treatment. Conclusions This survey identified the most common herbal remedies and functional foods used among prostate, breast and colorectal cancer patients in Trinidad. Although functional foods rarely pose a problem, herbs may interact with conventional chemotherapy and physicians need to inform patients regarding probable herb-drug interactions.
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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2016 Oct 21;16(1):399