Exciting times for Herbalists

In 2011 the EU Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive for regulation of the over-the-counter market of herbal preparations comes into force. This means that many herbal remedies will no longer be available to buy over the counter – though they WILL be available from a qualified practitioner.

Because of this change, there has been an urgent need to have regulation of Herbal practitioners, and the work towards this has been ongoing since 2000. Finally, there has been a significant step forward, this month. The full details are on the EHTPA website, the EHTPA being the larger body to which the CPP belongs. (The CPP is professional body of which I am a member, and therefore I am covered by EHTPA legislation and am EHTPA approved.

In particular, it is gratifying to see recognition of the high standards maintained by Medical Herbalists:

The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology’s Report on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (HMSO 2000)….. proposed that CAM therapies should be classified within 3 groups. Therapies assigned to Group 1 included the most organised CAM professions where NHS provision is increasing and where research into their effectiveness had either already commenced or was likely to be beneficial…..Herbal medicine, or phytotherapy, was defined as, “a system of medicine which uses various remedies derived from plants and plant extracts to treat disorders and maintain good health”. It was assigned to Group 1 along with acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and osteopathy

This itself is good news for my profession, but I have also recently come across a proposal that the local NHS Trust cover some complementary therapies under certain conditions. One of those listed was Herbal Medicine, provided the practitioner fulfilled certain requirements, including being a member of the EHTPA. Happily I do fulfil these requirements, and have already treated patients to whom I was recommended by a hospital consultant. The consultant and I have a very good professional relationship and we both feel it would be a positive (and cost effective) step if the NHS would fund these referrals.

I’m sure there will be a long haul ahead yet, before these changes come into effect, but even so, these are exciting times for a Herbalist, and for those patients who want more choice in the management of their ailments.

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