RECENT LEGISLATION on the availability of herbal products and the Statutory Regulation of herbal practitioners 2011

Most people who use herbal medicine and supplements will be aware of recent parliamentary legislation on the statutory registration of herbal practitioners and also categories of herbs which can and cannot be sold in High Street shops.  Because of these two differing aspects, many people are confused as to how the present position stands.


Briefly, the facts are that from April this year, practising medical herbalists who are qualified and registered with an association which is accredited by the European Traditional Herbal Practitioners Association (ETHPA) will be statutorily regulated and legally allowed to practise as health professionals on a par with NHS professionals.  In other words recognised by the government.  This is a great relief to us as it has been dragging on for the past decade, when it was recommended by the House of Lords all those years ago.  I must thank all my patients and friends who have lobbied parliament, written letters to MPs and newspapers and formed petitions tirelessly and doggedly on our behalf - and ultimately to everyone's benefit.


The other aspect of which herbal remedies can be sold over the counter is not so cut and dried.  A preliminary list of banned herbal products has been drawn up consisting of Western and Chinese herbs.  Depressingly, the list of banned Western herbs consists of some of the most tried, tested and useful ones, most commonly used by herbalists. 


This has always been a contentious issue between herbalists and the conventional school of thought.  Whilst not wanting to denigrate my doctor friends, the pharmaceutical companies favour leaning towards a neat little pill to treat a symptom or certain part of the body. e.g. an aspirin for a headache.  The herbalist will tend to seek the reason for the headache, and will want to know much more about a patient before even thinking about treatment.  Also, many herbs are regarded by orthodox researchers as suspect because they have only looked at one 'active' ingredient of the plant which has been extracted from the rest of its constituents which would balance and enhance its efficacy.  It must be very difficult for such researchers to embrace the science involved in what, to a herbalist, is the very basis of their plant usage.


An example of this is the beautiful and useful meadowsweet that grows all along the rhynes of the Somerset Levels.  Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is used primarily as an ant-acid and plays a major part in healing stomach ulcers, along with Comfrey, which has also been banned.  It does, however, contain aspirin - not good for ulcers. BUT, its other constituents have calming and healing properties which balance and offset any harmful effect of using aspirin alone.  Sadly, because of its aspirin content, and probably as a rival to the ever popular and massively profitable, Gaviscon, it has been withdrawn from retail outlets.  Incidentally, please do not self treat if you have a stomach ulcer, it needs careful monitoring by a trained therapist. 

To conclude, all is not lost and looking on the bright side, retailers will be allowed to sell their stocks of banned herbs until 2012, so look out for cheap offers as they try to sell off their stock.  In place of these banned products, they will be putting substitutes and complexes (compound mixtures) on the shelves.  Also, qualified herbalists will be able to access all banned herbs from their reputable suppliers and provide their own tinctures and dried herbs for their patients.


For any other information, please feel free to contact me, Bett Partridge DBTh URHP, by phone on 01749 673069 or email:  


Rider:-  As usual, remember that herbs, like any other nutrient you put into your body, differ greatly as to where they come from, who processes them, how they are absorbed and what they are compatible with.  Please respect this when choosing your remedy and, if in doubt, seek advice from a trained practitioner.  Good Health to you!

Bett Partridge DBTh MURHP
Registered Medical Herbalist.
Nutritional Therapy
8 Coombe Brook
Wookey Hole
Somerset BA5 1BL
Tel: 01749 673 069