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Abstract

Interviews were conducted with 100 adults (27 men, 73 women) enrolled in a prepaid medical health plan to investigate their use of botanical remedies. They were asked which of 50 listed herbs they or members of their families had used for health purposes and with what effect; which of 60 listed health problems they had treated with home remedies; and what additional home remedies or alternative health care resources they had used. Over 100 different home remedies were identified, with most considered effective. Individual respondents used from 0 to 33 herbal and plant remedies (Md = 7), some of which have toxic properties. A remedy was reported for almost every health problem listed. Substances most frequently used were aloe vera, honey, peppermint, garlic, eucalyptus, and rose hips; health problems most frequently treated were burns, colds, indigestion, insect bites, insomnia, rashes. Persons who were married, from larger households, of higher socioeconomic status, who had consulted alternative healers, or who had patronized health food stores tended to use home remedies more than their counterparts. Implications for further evaluation of self-care practices are discussed.