Have you noticed that herbal products that you used to be able to buy in health food shops have started to disappear?
This is due to the European Directive of Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products that came into force in 2005. This directive changed the way herbal products could be sold, they needed to have a licence and a licence could only be obtained if a herb had been in use for 30 years. This has seen a huge reduction in the availability of herbal products in the UK.
You may have also noticed that in shops that sell herbs for example Neal’s Yard, they are no longer able to provide mixtures of herbs only single herbs.
Herbal medicine and regulating those who prescribe herbs is still being debated, and an article in the Telegraph on 19th January expressed the view of the Prince of Wales who wants to see alternative medicine integrating with orthodox medicine and properly regulated.
As the law stands at the moment anyone can claim to be a herbalist and treat people with herbs. When the new law is passed herbalists will be recognised as regulated professionals and only herbalists who have completed the required training will be able to use the title and practice herbal medicine.
So what can you do now if you are used to using a herbal product and it has been withdrawn?
Medical herbalists though not currently regulated are still covered by the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, regulation 3, para. (2), (6), (9), which states that herbal medicine products must be manufactured by the medical herbalist and must be dispensed from a suitable premise not available to the public. Regulation 241 states that schedule 20 restricted medicines can only be dispensed by medical herbalists who have a BSc in Herbal Medicine.
This means that you can get herbs from medical herbalists with a consultation. It is important to remember that the herbal medicines dispensed by medical herbalists are often of a much higher strength than those available over the counter in chemists, supermarkets and health food shops. You may only be able to get the herbal medicine in a different form, for example as a powder or tea rather than a capsule or tablet.
For more information visit the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Agency (MHRA) website.
If you have any questions about herbal medicine, what can be taken alongside orthodox medication or what is available through a medical herbalist you can find a medical herbalist local to you by searching on the National Institute of Medical Herbalist’s website.
I am also available for free 10 minute chats by calling 07946150721 or you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org.