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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 4089019, 9 pages
Research Article

Characteristics of Herbal Medicine Users and Adverse Events Experienced in South Korea: A Survey Study

1Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, 26 Kyungheedae-ro, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 02447, Republic of Korea
2KM Fundamental Research Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, 1672 Yuseongdae-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34054, Republic of Korea
3Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Korean Medicine, Woosuk University, 61 Seonneomeo 3-gil, Wansan-gu, Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do 54986, Republic of Korea
4Department of Korean Internal Medicine, Sangji University Korean Medicine Hospital, 283 Woosan-dong, Wonju 26338, Republic of Korea
5Department of Korean Internal Medicine, College of Korean Medicine, Semyung University, 579 Sinwoul-dong, Jecheon, Chungcheongbuk-do 27136, Republic of Korea

Correspondence should be addressed to Seong-Gyu Ko

Received 26 December 2016; Accepted 29 March 2017; Published 10 April 2017

Academic Editor: Karin Kraft

Copyright © 2017 Soobin Jang 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.


Background. This survey aimed to investigate the characteristics of users and nonusers of herbal medicine and the adverse events experienced due to herbal medicines in South Korea. Methods. The questionnaire consisted of safety, using experience, using type, usage and nonusage reason, purchase location, and adverse events of herbal medicine. The survey was administered by online. Results. Of the total 1,134 respondents, 726 (64.0%) considered herbal medicine safe, and 693 (61.1%) answered that they have taken herbal medicines within the past year. Most common place to purchase them was “TKM hospital or clinic” (63.6%), and most participants (72.2%) took a decoction from a TKM institution. The biggest reason for taking them was for “health improvement” (57.3%), and the reasons for not using them was “medication not necessary” (63.7%). Among those who took herbal medicines, 46 experienced adverse events, and the most frequently reported symptoms were digestive disorders (52.2%). Of the 46 participants who experienced adverse events, 20 (43.5%) were treated by TKM doctors. Conclusions. This study suggests that regulation of herbal medicines is needed in order to resolve problems related to the safety of herbal medicines.