Perceptions and Use of Herbal Remedies among Patients with Diabetes Mellitus in Murang' a North District, Kenya.
Mwangi, Joshua Kabugi
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Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease with a world wide distribution. According to World Health Organization its prevalence ranges between 1% and 6% with theprevalence in developing countries being on the increase. In Kenya Epidemiologicalsurveys conducted gave the estimated prevalence of diabetes mellitus at 3% in 2003, andabove 6% in 2007. In some rural parts of Kenya such as Nyeri in central Kenya and Kilifiin the coast province the prevalence is as high as 11.6% and above 20% among the richerfamilies in the major urban centers. In Murang'a District where the study was conductedthe prevalence rate of diabetes is 8%. There are several modes of treatment of diabetesmellitus including use of diet, insulin, use of oral hypoglycemic, use of herbal remediesor their combinations. Use of herbal remedies has been on increase with World HealthOrganization estimating that 80 percent of the world's population presently uses some form of herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Studies carried out so farindicate that this increase in use of herbal remedies for management of health conditions could be as a result of people perceiving them as natural and therefore safe, increase in cost of contemporary medicine and increase in advertisement of herbal remedies. Objectivesof this study were therefore; to determine the perceptions people with diabetes mellitushave towards herbal remedies, to determine the extent to which they use herbal remediesand also to establish whether there is any association between the perceptions people haveon herbal remedies and use of herbal remedies. The study was carried out in Murang'aDistrict, in Mathioya and Kangema Constituencies where five community health unitswere purposively selected to participate in the study based on their level of establishmentin community health strategy. Participants for the study were selected conveniently fromcommunity health units and snow balling method was also used. Data was collected usinginterview schedules. SPSS was used for data analysis. Chi-square was used to find outthe significant association between categorical variables. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)was used in comparison of age means between males and female and measures of centraltendency were also used. Significant findings from this study were; a significant numberof the respondents (15%) were diagnosed with diabetes mellitus when already admitted inthe wards prior to which period they had no idea that they were diabetic, over 86% of thoseinterviewed were given information on diabetes management on diagnosis and they attend hospital clinics for follow-up regularly and therefore this means that the reason for seekingalternative modes of treatment is not due to lack of information on diabetes but due toother reasons, 12.4% of those interviewed admitted using herbal remedies as part of theirmanagement of diabetes. In terms of perception 23% ofthose interviewed had no problemwith herbal remedies and among those using herbal remedies, 45% were using them ontrial basis. It was also found out that among those using herbal remedies 7% of them werecombining herbal remedies with contemporary drugs. Factors found to be associated withuse of herbal remedies were level of education (x"=156.49, d.f=S, P<0.05) and perceptions(x"=51.3l, d.f=I, P<0.05) while factors found to have no relationship with use of herbalremedies were gender (x"=1.09, d.f=l , P>0.05) and clinic attendance (x2=0.259, d.f= 1,P<0.05). Recommendations made following the study were; The government of Kenyathrough Ministry of Health should encourage rigorous screening of clients and populationin general for diabetes to ensure diabetes is diagnosed early and put under appropriatemanagement and that the government of Kenya through Ministry of Health should put upa campaign educating diabetic patients on the potential dangers associated with combiningherbal remedies with contemporaly medicines due to their interactions. Based on the findings of the study the reseacher felt that there is need for further research to be carriedout to find the potential efficacy and side effects of the various herbal remedies being usedand there is also need to do a longitudinal study on patients combining herbal remedieswith conventional medicine to find out the eventual impact of combining on these patients.