EU directive to ban majority of the high street herbal remedies




The EU directive shortly to be made law has sounded the death knell for hundreds of herbs used everyday by herbal and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners. The list of herbs that will be allowed comprises only 34 plant species out of more than 1000 that are commonly used as medicinal herbs. Consumers will be denied the right to use any herbal product not registered by the 1st May 2011.

This legislation is intended to put consumer safety first, and will make it mandatory for producers to put possible side-effects and other information on the packaging of approved products, but the list also includes some controversial additives such as sodium lauryl sulphate, aspartame and sodium cyclamate among others.

Of the 79 currently registered herbal products, 27 are for just two herbs, Valerian and Echinacea. No supplier of Chinese or Ayurvedic herbal products is on the licensed list, even though these are the two most well-established herbal traditions in the world, and smaller providers are notably absent, perhaps because of the cost involved in applying for registration – between £80,000 - £150,000 per product.

Robert Verkerk, Scientific Director of ANH-Intl, is challenging the EU Directive, pointing out that one major flaw is that herbal products are from biological sources and do not react in the same way as pharmaceuticals, and therefore the strict rules that apply to pharmaceuticals are not relevant to herbal remedies.

A workaround will allow consumers to access herbal medicines once the directive comes into force but only via a practitioner. 

The UK government is to create a list of unlicensed herbal practitioners. All practitioners supplying unlicensed herbal medicines will be required to sign up by law, but this still means that consumers will be unable to personally buy many traditional herbal products.

Evidence is growing for the efficacy and good value of herbal treatments and the formal regulation of herbal practitioners is supported by the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association.

More from the Alliance for Natural Health International


Click here for more articles


Back to top