Most people who use herbal medicine of any kind will be aware that amongst the many other areas of our daily life in which they dabble, the EU regulators have also been interesting themselves in herbal medicines. Depending on which side of the fence you sit, their desire to regulate the sale of medicinal herbs was based on a quite proper concern that a gullible public should not be sold fake or possible dangerous herbs which had never been tested for safety, or was prompted by the pharmaceuticals giants’ desire to drive herbal medicines off the shelves thus leaving more space for their own preparations.
Without getting bogged down in the complexities of the arguments, the position arrived at back in 2011 was that, to be ‘legal’, herbs had either to have been ‘registered’ (which involved undergoing a costly and complex ‘testing’ procedure designed for pharmaceutical drugs and therefore inappropriate for many herbs) or they had to be ‘prescribed’ by a herbalist (known as the ‘herbalist’s exemption). This was not ideal as a number of commonly-used traditional herbal treatments did disappear of the shelves, but it was manageable. However, the quid pro quo for this compromise was that the government would bring in statutory regulation of herbalists (something for which qualified herbal practitioners have been calling for years) which, in turn, would secure the ‘herbalists’ exemption’.
But, two years later, nothing has happened and the Alliance for Natural Health amongst others is concerned not only that the government might be about to do a U-turn on their promise to introduce statutory regulation for herbalists, but that, under pressure from the EU, they might also repeal the ‘herbalists’ exemption’ – which would very seriously impact on millions of people who rely on herbal medicines to support their daily health.
The Alliance for Natural Health is waging an active campaign to force the government to come good on its promise of regulation. To join it – or at least to find out a bit more about what is at stake – check in to their campaign page where it offers you a wide range of options for supporting the campaign, including harassing your MP!