freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger An eleventh-hour rescue for herbal meds? | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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Talk about a last-minute repreive. Fans of herbal medcines will be delighted to know that the UK government has stepped in to save a situation that might have seen many herbal medicines – those that still haven’t been registered via the European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicines – disappear from legal use in this country. According to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, a register of herbal practitioners will be set up, and those who join the scheme will be allowed to prescribe remedies for their patients that aren’t on the registered list. At present, this might include up to 50 herbs including horny goat weed, wild yam and hawthorn berry.

Herbal practitioners are obviously overjoyed at the news, as it means they can carry on using herbs on the ‘banned’ list if they sign up to be a registered practitioner. It doesn’t, however, mean that the public will be able to walk into a health food store after April 30 this year and buy quite a lot of herbal medicines that are on the shelves now. But you will be able to get them from a herbalist (though it’s going to be more expensive as there’ll be a consultation fee to pay).

Medics who see herbs as a threat are naturally disappointed in the government for making the decision, including Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, who’s quoted in the Telegraph as saying: “”The proposed register will imply herbal therapies have the same legitimacy as medicine, nursing and dentistry, despite offering patients no proven benefit.”

No proven benefits or not, according to the Daily Mail at least six million Brits have consulted a herbal practitioner in the past two years – and that’s not counting all those who buy herbal remedies from high-street stores such as Holland & Barrett and over the internet.

But before you shelve your plans for your own herb garden (as growing your own is one alternative I’m seriously contemplating), the herbal register won’t come into affect until 2012 – which I assume means you still won’t be able to get certain herbs after the end of April until the register is active. Time to stock up, I think.

There again, given that you can buy just about any prescription medicine without a prescription on the internet – and nobody seems to be doing much to stop that – I imagine some enterprising individuals will make a killing selling herbal medicines on the net.

And then when people start having serious health problems as a result of taking illegal, black-market herbs, who will we blame I wonder?