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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 7, Issue 1, Pages 107-113
Original Article

Dietary Supplement Polypharmacy: An Unrecognized Public Health Problem?

1Department of Internal Medicine, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, USA
2Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA, USA
3Complementary and Alternative Medicine Program, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA

Received 8 March 2006; Accepted 14 June 2007

Copyright © 2010 Nicole L. Nisly et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Excessive and inappropriate use of medications, or ‘polypharmacy’, has been recognized as a public health problem. In addition, there is growing use of dietary supplements in the United States; however, little is known about the patterns of supplement use. Recent reports in the literature of cases of excessive or inappropriate use of herbal dietary supplements leading to the term ‘polyherbacy’. The clinical vignettes described in this article highlight the need for further research on the nature and extent of multiple and inappropriate dietary supplement use or ‘dietary supplement polypharmacy’. Clinical interviewing and population surveys both address this issue in complementary ways, and provide a further understanding of dietary supplement use patterns.