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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Use of herbal medicinal products among children and adolescents in Germany

Yong Du*, Ingrid-Katharina Wolf, Wanli Zhuang, Stefanie Bodemann, Werner Knöss and Hildtraud Knopf

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:218  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-218

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Attention to herbal medicinal use in children is needed.

Hung-Rong Yen   (2014-07-29 16:07)  Research Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan email

This is an interesting paper published by Dr. Du and colleagues. Indeed, large-scale investigations of herbal medicine usage among children have been lacking. Recently, we have characterized the application of TCM among pediatric patients in Taiwan in 2005 and 2010. (A nationwide population-based study of traditional Chinese medicine usage in children in Taiwan. Huang TP, Liu PH, Lien AS, Yang SL, Chang HH, Yen HR. Complement Ther Med. 2014 Jun;22(3):500-10.)

We examined data sets from the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan. Two cohorts, each with one million patients who were randomly sampled from the beneficiaries of the National Health Insurance Program from January 1 to December 31 in 2005 or 2010, were chosen for analysis. Children had at least one TCM outpatient clinical record were defined as TCM users, whereas children who had no TCM outpatient records were defined as non-TCM users. The demographic data, treatment modalities and the disease distributions of the pediatric TCM users were analyzed from two randomly sampled cohorts. 

Overall, We found that 22% and 22.5% of the Taiwanese children used TCM in 2005 and 2010, respectively. Among the TCM users in 2010, 50.9% were girls, and 49.1% were boys, whereas 50.8% of the non-TCM users were girls, and 49.2% were boys. The utilization rate of TCM increased with age. Herbal remedies were the most commonly used therapeutic approach (representing 65.6% of the total in 2005 and 74.4% in 2010), followed by manipulative therapy and acupuncture. Similar to the data published by Dr. Du, we found that there is a high frequency of TCM visits due to respiratory system diseases . We have also recently characterized TCM use in children with asthma. (Characteristics of traditional Chinese medicine use in children with asthma: a nationwide population-based study. Huang TP, Liu PH, Lien AS, Yang SL, Chang HH, Yen HR. Allergy. 2013 Dec;68(12):1610-3.)

A further comparison of the prevalence rates between TCM and non-TCM visits indicated that allergic rhinitis, dyspepsia, injury and musculoskeletal diseases, as well as menstrual disorders, were the main diseases that children tended to visit TCM clinics in Taiwan. Our nationwide population-based study revealed the high prevalence and specific usage patterns of TCM in the pediatric population in Taiwan in 2005 and 2010.

Similar to this paper published by Dr. Du, we found that there is a high prevalence of herbal medicinal use in children. Physicians, parents and the government concerning pediatric healthcare should pay more attention to the use of herbal products in children.

Competing interests

I declared no competing interests.


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