Department of Pharmacology, Therapeutics & Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, P.M.B 12003, Nigeria.
Background: Despite the reported widespread use of herbal medicines globally and their benefits, they are not completely without potential to cause harm. The haphazard, irresponsible or non-regulated use of several herbal medicines may put the health of their users at risk of toxicity.
Objective: This study aimed to assess the general perception of the safety and occurrence of adverse effects of herbal medicines among residents of Ikorodu in Lagos, Nigeria.
Methods: The study population included 400 randomly selected and consented residents in Ikorodu. Data was collected using a standard closed and open-ended structured questionnaire with three (3) sections on socio-demography, safety and adverse effects of herbal medicines. Associations between the variables were determined using Chi square analysis.
Results: The results showed that 333 respondents (82.4%) believed that herbal medicines are safe for use and only 39 (9.7%) held the view that they may not be safe. Results also show that 51 (12.6%) of respondents had experienced adverse effects while 250 (61.9%) said they had never experienced adverse effects from the use of herbal medicines.
Conclusion: Herbal medicine is popular among the respondents but they appear to be ignorant of its potential toxicities. It may be necessary to educate the consumers of herbal medicines on the potentials for herbs-drugs interaction and adverse effects specially as a result of indiscriminate and unguided use of herbal medicines.