Beware! The Government is encouraging you to buy – via the internet or back street shops – polluted herbal preparations ‘spiked’ with banned substances such as toxic heavy metals which have caused liver failure and long-term health problems.
As the European Union tightens the rules on the supply of herbal products, their sale, except for a small number of products for ‘mild illnesses’, will be banned from 2011.
Since 2000, the Government have been consulting on how to bring the 2,500 UK qualified herbalists and traditional medical practitioners (Chinese, Tibetan and Ayurveda) under statutory regulation.
The first consultation, which was published in 2005, had an overwhelming response in favour of statutory regulation.
This most recent consultation process, which closes to public comment on November 16, has been slammed for being far too complicated, with herbalists and their patients unable to respond to the obscure consultation questionnaire. This could affect the chances of its success. If the Government fail to proceed with statutory regulation, practitioners here will lose the right to supply their traditional preparations and medicines.
Then the six million Britons who use herbal practitioners may be forced to scan the internet, which abounds with substandard and potentially dangerous products.
‘We fear if the Government refuses statutory regulation, we will see a black market in herbal products, with unlicensed, potentially dangerous remedies’. Said Dr Michael Dixon, of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health
The UK Department of Health said currently there was currently no timeline for further action on a regulatory scheme.
Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon’s department said they are working towards a solution that ensures public protection, and ‘Any regulatory proposals must meet the specific needs of the people of Scotland’.