WHO data indicate that phytotherapy in academic medicine results in significant savings for the healthcare system. In Poland, there are ongoing discussions on the introduction of phytotherapy into the curriculum of medical studies for doctors and pharmacists.
Phytotherapy in practice
According to WHO data, including herbal medicines in pharmacological therapy reduces expenditure on reimbursed drugs, and patients are less likely to stay in hospitals. WHO also points to a reduction in the mortality rate.
Unfortunately, in Poland herbal therapy is not popular in conventional medicine. According to Krzysztof Blech from the Phytotherapy Section of the Polish Medical Association, the medical community shows low or even negligible interest in this form of treatment, and pharmacists suggest that patients should not take herbs because of interactions with drugs.
Poles, however, quite often use herbs to treat cold-related ailments, especially to throat diseases. In the ranking of the best-selling dietary supplements in Poland in 2018, a product based on Icelandic lichen – Fiorda – was ranked in the top ten, with sales of nearly PLN 22m (increase by 25% compared with sales in 2017), according to PEX PharmaSequence data.
Phytotherapy on medical studies – current situation
Meeting of the Parliamentary Team for Polish Herbal Medicine was held in May 2019, during which the required changes in the education of physicians, pharmacists and other health service employees in the field of phytotherapy in Poland were discussed. According to the data collected by the aforementioned team, currently in Poland, lectures on phytotherapy and herbal medicine are conducted only as part of post-graduate studies or optional classes at medical universities in Gdansk and Poznan.
The Medical University in Wroclaw is preparing postgraduate studies in this field. It is worthly noting that this subject is more often offered by universities which are not involved in the education of physicians. For example, lectures in this area are given by the University of Life Sciences in Lublin and Bydgoszcz.
The Parliamentary Team for Polish Herbal Medicine was established in December 2017. It brings together experts from the scientific and medical community (doctors, pharmacists) and social representatives.