According to a previous survey, approximately one-third of chiropractors in the United States recommend herbs to their patients.1 While more recent studies differ, it appears that this number has grown to approximately 40 percent of the profession.
Herbs are typically not part of practice for most doctors of chiropractic.Whereas nutrition is a component of most chiropractic curriculum, herbs are not. The results of this study demonstrate that almost all (96 percent) of DCs who utilize herbs in their practice are comfortable with the philosophy behind the herbal products they offer their patients. Approximately half recommend herbs based upon a condition type, with more than 40 percent offering herbs from three or more different companies. These doctors also see herbs as having broad applications as more than 40 percent offer herbs to at least half of their patients. The following results give greater understanding to why these chiropractors are recommending and offering herbs.
Herbs for Specific Types of Conditions
Doctors who recommend and sell herbs to their patients do so to address a variety of condition types: immune system, stress/anxiety/sleep, musculoskeletal health, women's health and functional support for specific organs. The recommendation percentages for each condition type break down surprisingly even, with between 46 percent and 55 percent recommending herbs for each condition type. Likewise, the sales percentages hover right around one-third of chiropractors selling herbs for each condition type.
It is interesting to note that doctors are most likely to recommend herbs to a patient to support their immune system and least likely to recommend herbs for musculoskeletal health. Conversely, more doctors sell herbs for musculoskeletal health than for any other condition type. A future study should be considered to examine the preferences between nutrition and herbs when addressing musculoskeletal health as well as other condition types.
As is the case with many products offered to patients, 42 percent of DCs purchase from "three or more" herb companies, with only 19 percent purchasing from a single vendor. This is likely one of the reason why there are so many herbal products companies serving the profession. A total of 18 herbal companies were identified as having chiropractic clients who offer their products.
Recommendation and Sales
Of those DCs who recommend herbal products to their patients, 41 percent recommend them to at least half of their patient population, with 11 percent recommending herbs to "almost all" of their patients. A similar question in a previous survey found that approximately 65 percent of DCs recommend nutritional products to at least half of their patients, with 35 percent recommending them to almost all.2
When asked what percentage of their patients purchased herbal products from them, 21 percent of DCs stated that at least half had purchased herbs from them, with 5 percent stating that purchases were made by "almost all" of their patients. By comparison, a previous survey revealed that 40 percent of DCs sold nutritional products to at least half of their patients, with 12 percent selling to almost all of their patients.