Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus by Traditional Medicine Practitioners in Kenya- Key Informant Interviews
Introduction: Worldwide, plant based medicines are increasing in popularity due to perceptions of safety and efficacy. Herbalists in Kenya are widely consulted for the management of many diseases including Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). This study investigated the level of knowledge of the herbalists in management of T2DM.
Methods: Purposive sampling was used to identify 4 herbalists working in the urban areas who actively manage T2DM. Key informant interviews were used to gather data about the management of T2DM. It was analyzed using a content thematic approach.
Results: Diverse management methods which included both pharmacological and non- pharmacological were noted. Glycemic control was assessed with the help of a glucometer. In addition, presenting signs and symptoms were key in diagnosing T2DM. The herbalists used various herbs, minerals and animals as medicinal sources. The drugs were dispensed as decoctions with excipients being added appropriately. Adverse effects were recorded. The herbalists acknowledged that patients use both herbal and allopathic medicine together. A level of record keeping was observed but patient follow-up was poor. The cost of the herbal drugs was perceived to be excessive.
Conclusion: Some similarities exist in the management of T2DM between allopathic and traditional medicine practitioners. Training of herbalists is required to improve the quality of care given to patients.
Key words: Herbalists, diabetes mellitus, traditional medicine