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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 401395, 8 pages
Original Article

Integration of Herbal Medicine in Primary Care in Israel: A Jewish-Arab Cross-Cultural Perspective

1Complementary and Traditional Medicine Unit, Department of Family Medicine, Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa and Clalit Health Services, Haifa and Western Galilee District, Haifa 35013, Israel
2Department of Eretz Israel Studies and School of Public Health, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
3Department of Sociology, Western Galilee Academic College—Bar Ilan University, Israel
4Department of Internal Medicine, Bnai-Zion Hospital and Department for Complementary/Integrative Medicine, Law and Ethics, International Center for Health, Law and Ethics, Haifa University, Haifa, Israel

Received 2 April 2009; Accepted 25 August 2009

Copyright © 2011 Eran Ben-Arye 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.


Herbal medicine is a prominent complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modality in Israel based on the country's natural diversity and impressive cultural mosaic. In this study, we compared cross-cultural perspectives of patients attending primary care clinics in northern Israel on herbal medicine specifically and CAM generally, and the possibility of integrating them within primary care. Research assistants administered a questionnaire to consecutive patients attending seven primary care clinics. About 2184 of 3713 respondents (59%) defined themselves as Muslims, Christians or Druze (henceforth Arabs) and 1529 (41%) as Jews. Arab respondents reported more use of herbs during the previous year (35 versus 27.8% P = .004) and of more consultations with herbal practitioners (P < .0001). Druze reported the highest rate of herbal consultations (67.9%) and Ashkenazi Jews the lowest rate (45.2%). About 27.5% of respondents supported adding a herbal practitioner to their clinic's medical team if CAM were to be integrated within primary care. Both Arabs and Jews report considerable usage of herbal medicine, with Arabs using it significantly more. Cross-cultural perspectives are warranted in the study of herbal medicine use in the Arab and Jewish societies.