Document Type : Original paper
Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Department of Psychiatric Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, School of Health, Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran.
Faculty of Psychology and Education, Semnan University, Semnan, Iran.
Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Background and objectives: During health crises like COVID-19, people with different health conditions turn to traditional/herbal remedies, which can affect their health status. This study aimed to determine medicinal plant consumption and its association with health literacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran. Methods: This web-based cross-sectional study involved 1242 Iranians aged 18 to 65. Data were collected using the Iranian Health Literacy Questionnaire (IHLQ), COVID-19-related variables, and a socio-demographic information questionnaire, analyzed by simple and multiple logistic regression analyses using SPSS 16.0. Results: It was found that 51.4% (n=638) of participants had used medicinal plants and herbal products, with a mean Health Literacy (HL) score of 76.16. Thyme (50.6%), ginger (34.9%), and cinnamon (24.4%) were the most commonly used plants; the most popular methods were infusion (78.3%) and decoction (32.2%). According to the adjusted analysis, the use of medicinal plants was significantly associated with being older (odds ratio (OR)=1.85, 95% confidence interval (CI):1.14-3.00), having contact with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 cases (OR=1.94, 95% CI:1.39-2.71), and having family members, friends, and/or relatives infected with COVID-19 (OR=1.37, 95% CI:1.00-1.88). Also, people who consulted with a physician or pharmacist before using medicinal plants had statistically higher mean HL scores than those who did not (p<0.001), as do those who consider potential interactions with other medications or medicinal plants (p<0.001). Conclusion: Considering that at least half of the people used medicinal plants during the COVID-19 outbreak, providing accurate information by regulatory organizations on medicinal plants, their potential side effects, and interactions, especially during times of crisis, seems to be urgent.