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Statutory Regulation

Government Report fails millions of herbal medicine patients and practitioners!

A report concerning the regulation of herbalists published in the dying days of the last parliament represents a total U-turn by the government and a betrayal of the millions of people who consult herbal practitioners.

In 2014 the government convened yet another Expert Working Group to consider the statutory regulation of herbalists to ensure herbal practice meets the highest standards.


There have already been three previous formal committees that recommended the statutory regulation of herbalists to provide a legal basis for practice and safeguards for the public.

There have been two UK wide Dept of Health public consultations about this both of which recorded overwhelming public support for herbal statutory regulation.

In 2011 the Secretary of State for Health announced that the statutory regulation of herbalists would go ahead.

Now the government has done a complete U-turn publishing yet another report on herbal regulation that has recommended this should not happen.

The majority of the Expert Group convened to advise the government on this matter has written to the Health Minister to say they do not agree with this U-turn but their views are being ignored. The Expert Group was not shown a draft of the Report before publication despite assurances that the Group would be fully consulted.

Voluntary regulation is no substitute for statutory regulation; it cannot assure public choice and public safety as substandard practitioners cannot be struck off.

The report suggests that herbal medicines can be recategorised as foods. If this happens many herbal medicines will no longer be legally available.

The report fails to recognise robust existing processes and academic standards established by a number of responsible UK herbal voluntary registers.

The report makes no provision to replace a off –site supply of herbal medicines to practitioners to take account of recent changes in EU medicines law. Without this route of supply, practitioners without dispensing facilities will be forced to give up practice and their patients will lose access to herbal treatment on which they rely. The report betrays earlier proposals that would have corrected this in the UK.

The report claims that there is insufficient research to justify statutory regulation and published a ‘randomly selected’ number of research reviews never shown to the Expert Group. Exactly the same measure applied to dentistry recently demonstrated that “the overall quality of evidence can be regarded as low or nonexistent for most of the dental procedures assessed”.

The yardstick used in the report is clearly unfit for purpose. There are many thousands of scientific papers underpinning the therapeutic value of herbal medicines which is why WHO is calling on all national health systems to integrate traditional (herbal) medicine into medical practice.

Please ask your constituency candidates if they support the statutory regulation of the herbalists. Please consider only voting for candidates who support herbal statutory regulation!

Thank you for your help. For your interest, our full response to the report on herbal regulation and the report itself can be accessed on http://ehtpa.eu.

The EHTPA is an umbrella body which represents professional associations of herbal/traditional medicine practitioners offering variously western herbal medicine, Chinese herbal medicine, Ayurveda and traditional Tibetan medicine. The EHTPA is dedicated to the development of herbal/traditional medicine, preserving and enhancing the legal basis of practice across EU Members States and promoting best practice throughout the traditions.

Thank you for your support.







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