Plants considered useful for hypoglycemic, antihypertensive or hypolipidemic treatments by patients with peripheral vascular diseases

Gertrudis García-Lazo, Ela Lauzant-Diaz, Arquímedes Díaz Batista, Milagros Garcia Mesa

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Background: Knowing patients ‘believes about the medicinal utility of plants may provide a basis for educating them for a rational use of herb preparations.  Objective: To characterize the plants that are considered useful for antidiabetic, antihypertensive or hypolipidemic treatment among patients with peripheral vascular diseases.  Methods: A survey was performed among patients of the National Institute of Angiology and Vascular Surgery from February through April 2007. The characteristics of the use of plants as medicinal remedies and the names of species considered useful for the treatment of diabetes, arterial hypertension and dyslipidemia were recorded. Results: Two hundred and forty five both sex adult volunteers (142 female / 103 male), aged 44 to 72 years) were included in the study. More than 80 % of them used medicinal plants at least occasionally and confided on their efficacy to treat different illnesses Fifteen species, mainly Allium sativum L., Citrus aurantifolia Ch., Justicia pectoralis Jacq.., Morinda citrifolia L., Ocinum sanctum L and Salvia officinalis L,  from 11 botanical families, were mentioned by participants. Most patients’ claims about plants´ properties have been scientifically supported in some extent, nevertheless, the majority of the pharmacological evidence relays on pre-clinical studies and results of clinical trials are not conclusive. The lack of standardized plant preparations with identified active principles and demonstrated clinical effectiveness are limitations for recommending their therapeutic use. Conclusion: This study has provided the first characterization of the use of plant products by patients with peripheral vascular diseases for medicinal purposes and confirmed that physicians should be aware about the possibility of herb-drug interactions that should be diagnosed. This information would aid the scientifically supported integration of Phytotherapy to the clinical practice.