Homoeopathic and herbal prescribing in general practice in Scotland.

Sarah Ross, Colin Richard Simpson, James Stuart McLay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Aims. To investigate the current levels of homoeopathic and herbal prescribing in Scottish general practice.

Methods. Prescribing of homoeopathic and herbal remedies in primary care was assessed in 1891 669 patients for the year 2003-2004, using computerized prescribing data retrieved from 323 general practices in Scotland.

Results. Forty-nine percent of practices prescribed homoeopathic and 32% herbal remedies. A total of 193 homoeopathic and 17 herbal remedies were prescribed, with 5% of practices accounting for 46% of patients and 50% of remedies. Four thousand one hundred and sixty patients (2.2/1000 registered patients) were prescribed at least one homoeopathic remedy during the study period, with the highest prevalence to children under 12 months of age (9.5/1000 children of that age). Children under the age of 16 made up 16% of the population prescribed homoeopathic remedies (2.2/1000 registered patients of that age). Three hundred and sixty-one patients (0.2/1000 registered patients) were prescribed at least one herbal remedy during the study period, 44 of whom were children < 16 years old. Patients prescribed a homoeopathic or herbal remedy were also prescribed a median of four and five conventional medicines, respectively. Of patients prescribed an oral herbal remedy, 4% were also concomitantly prescribed a conventional medicine with which a drug herb interaction has been documented.

Conclusions. Our study reports that a substantial number of Scottish general practitioners prescribe homoeopathic and herbal remedies, with an approximate doubling in the number of children prescribed homoeopathic remedies. The level of homoeopathic and herbal prescribing raises questions about homoeopathic/herbal provision in the National Health Service and should prompt critical review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-652
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


  • herbal medicine
  • homoeopathy
  • primary care


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