HEALTH Herbal, 07 Dec 2009
Campaigners are calling on the Government to prevent herbal medicines disappearing from the high street when an EU ban comes into place in April 2011.
Save Herbal Medicine fears that much of the herbal medicine trade will be lost if EU legislation comes in, which states that only "statutorily regulated" professionals, such as doctors, would be able to prescribe the alternative remedies.
The EU Directive will restrict herbal medicines that can be supplied over-the-counter to licensed "traditional" medicines used to treat "mild and self-limiting" conditions.
The regulation would affect Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Kampo, traditional Tibetan medicine, Unani Tibb medicine and Western herbal medicine, should the UK not introduce its own statutory legislation.
Save Herbal Medicine is calling on the Department of Health to produce a statutory register for herbalists who meet certain standards, so that they would fall within the EU law.
It wants all herbalists who meet agreed standards of education and training, adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards and who are properly insured, to be recognised.
The campaign group's chairman Amarjeet S. Bharma said: "Many of our patients may choose to use herbal medicine as part of their cultural and religious beliefs.
"If the Government fails to act to protect these medicine systems it will be failing to recognise the diversity within our society and if the Department of Health fails to produce a statutory register for herbalists, this will significantly and adversely restrict the scope of herbal medicines."
The group was set up following an event last month at the House of Lords hosted by Lord King of West Bromwich. The meeting was chaired by Labour MP for Feltham Alan Keen and Conservative MP for Bosworth David Tredinnick.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: "We have recently been consulting on whether, and if so how, to regulate herbal medicine practitioners, where no regulation has existed before.
"The consultation sought views on what this regulation should look like. We received between five and six thousand responses and we are working through these to see what the way forward should be.
"Due to the number of responses received, it will be next year before we are in a position to make a decision."
The spokesperson continued: "We won't pre-empt the outcome of the consultation, but safety will be our main concern in making decisions."
For more information or to join the campaign go to www.saveherbalmedicine.com.