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01.12.2014 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

BMC Family Practice 1/2014

Use of home remedies: a cross-sectional survey of patients in Germany

BMC Family Practice > Ausgabe 1/2014
Lisa Maria Parisius, Beate Stock-Schröer, Sarah Berger, Katja Hermann, Stefanie Joos
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1471-2296-15-116) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

LMP has made contributions to conception and design of the study, did the data collection, performed the statistical analysis and interpretation of the data, did the drafting and revising of the manuscript. SJ and BS-S have made contributions to conception and design of the study. SB participated in drafting and revising the article. SJ has given final approval of the questionnaire and been involved in revising the manuscript critically for important intellectual content. KH has made contributions to the statistical analysis and interpretation of the data. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Reliable information regarding patient knowledge of home remedies and the types of health problems patients use them for is scarce. Nevertheless, anecdotal evidence indicates that home remedies are used by patients for managing minor health problems and that this can be sufficient for symptom management while the body recovers from minor health problems. The aim of the presented study was to explore patient use of home remedies in Germany.


A questionnaire was developed and pretested in a pilot study phase. The revised questionnaire was comprised of questions about general knowledge and experienced efficiency of home remedies, the use of home remedies for common health problems and socio-demographic data. Patients were recruited via randomly selected addresses of general practitioners (GPs) in three regions of Germany (Heidelberg, Erfurt and Hanover and surrounding areas). The questionnaire was handed out in the waiting area of GP practices. The data was analyzed descriptively.


480 of 592 patients from 37 GP practices were included, according to a response rate of 81%. Based on the survey results, home remedies were widely known and used by about 80% of our respondents (on average 22 different home remedies were used per person). The most frequently used home remedies were steam-inhalation, hot lemon drink, honey, chamomile tea and chicken soup. 80% of respondents tried home remedies before pharmaceutical options. Information about home remedies was most commonly gained from family members, rather than from written guides, media or GPs.


These results provide an initial overview on the use of home remedies from the patient’s perspective in a German context. Bearing in mind the high use of home remedies that was reported by patients in the study, it is highly likely that GPs in Germany may need to advise patients on their use of home remedies during consultations. To this end, given the scarcity of reliable information on home remedies, further research is needed.
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