Date of Graduation

Summer 8-11-2023

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Deborah Kelch


Adults in the U.S. use herbal medicine as an alternative and in conjunction with conventional healthcare, in many cases because of cultural and economic considerations. With insufficient governmental regulation of the content of herbal supplements, and limited education of healthcare providers on the potential risks and benefits consumers can experience unexpected and potentially harmful health impacts from using herbal medicine.

The health risks associated with these products include but are not limited to, herbal and prescription drug interactions and heavy metal toxicity. For this project, a scoping literature review was conducted using multiple databases to identify the prevalence, health risk, and public health gaps related to herbal medicine usage. The gaps in mitigating the health risks of herbal medicine include inadequate healthcare provider knowledge, scarcity of complementary and alternative medicine courses in medical schools, patient reluctance to disclose the usage of these products to their providers, and limited pre-market governmental regulation.

This project used the social-ecological model to identify and analyze different levels of intervention for the existing gaps found in the primary literature. Recommendations to address the existing gaps include formal herbal medicine education in medical schools, targeted public health campaigns with specific focus on Latino populations, and increased oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that incorporates mandatory third-party testing of herbal medicine products. The goal of these specific public health interventions is to increase patient and provider knowledge and reduce adverse health outcomes.