New App for Herbs

Searchable phone app provides information on herbs, complementary therapies, and more.

Many of our patients arrive already using herbs, supplements, and other complementary therapies and often, patients either want to add a therapy after being diagnosed with cancer. Even patients who were not previously utilizing complementary therapies sometimes wish to start these therapies once a cancer diagnosis is made. The challenge for clinicians is finding easy-to-access, reliable information about them.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center compiled a free app for iPhones, iPods, and iPads called “About Herbs.” There is a feature to browse the alphabetical content or search the application for specific information. Each item under the “professional” tab has a clinical summary, description of the mechanism of action, list of contraindications, list of adverse reactions, a literature summary and critique, and references. The references link to PubMed. Each item under the “consumer” tab has sections on how it works, purported uses, research evidence, “do not take if,” and side effects.

Whether used by the clinician or by our patients, the site is easy to navigate and the information is current and reputable. It’s a handy app to have on the phone in your pocket.