Herbal therapy (botanical products) and probiotics are two forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Primary care providers and geriatricians should know about CAM therapies as their patients may well be using it--an estimated 50% or more of the Western population take some form of supplement. Herbals and probiotics are often used for both functional and organic gastrointestinal diseases, with some limited evidence by randomized controlled trials demonstrating occasional efficacy. Issues of toxicity and lack of regulation are major limitations surrounding herbal and probiotic therapies.
Key words: complementary and alternative medicine, herbal therapy, probiotics, herbal toxicity, randomized controlled trials.