EU herb ban technically starts today!

Today is the day that the European Union's regulatory noose on herbal products is pulled tight.  The result?  Thousands of herbal products technically become illegal, simply because they cannot negotiate the regulatory minefield built by the EU over the last 10 or so years.  The full implementation of the EU Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) today represents the most recently placed piece of this complex jigsaw that will impact the majority of the most useful and effective herbal products on the EU market.  This includes the majority of herbal products associated with very long-standing non-European healthcare systems like traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Tibetan medicine, Ayurveda, southern African, Amazonian and other traditions.

Sign the Avaaz petition NOW!

And if you feel there is something fundamentally wrong with this — whether it frustrates, angers or simply concerns you — please sign the Avaaz petition and ask as many of your contact group as possible to do the same.  We need to be able to show the European Commission, the European Medicines Agency, EU governments, European Parliamentarians and others just how strongly people feel about this gross injustice.

Technically, any manufactured herbal medicine that has not been registered under the EU's Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive is banned.  And the problem is that only around 200 distinct products have made it through this convoluted regulatory doorway — one that's calibrated specifically to fit only a narrow range of herbal products.

So, which products benefit, and which products get locked out?  The winners are mostly products derived from alcoholic extracts of single herbs that are common to the relatively recent European (and particularly Germanic) phytopharmaceutical tradition.  The main losers are those products associated with world's longest, most established and most evolved and holistic systems of healthcare, notably Ayurveda and TCM.  Less familiar and less globalised traditions such as Tibetan, Korean, southern African and Amazonian traditions also fall victim.

But it's not just herbal medicines that fall victim to the EU regulatory minefield.  Other categories of product also get caught, these including complex nutritional and herbal products associated with nutritional and functional medicine modalities.  The problem here is as soon as a particular herbal ingredient is deemed as medicinal by a regulator, the whole product becomes illegal and cannot continue to be sold as a food supplement.

Why the ban won't be immediate

If you're expecting to see the shop shelves cleared on Monday 2nd May, you'll have to wait.  There are several reasons for this.  Firstly, regulators will take time to make determinations about products that are still on the market, selling as botanical food supplements.  In some EU countries, such as the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, that have liberal regimes, we will expect to see no change for the time being as these countries seem content to regard TCM and Ayurvedic products as food supplements.  Others, such as the UK and Germany, the two countries that have registered the most products under the THMPD, have a different view.  For these countries, and others who are following their lead, any food supplement that has any pharmacologically active herbal ingredient is deemed a medicine.  As such it must be removed from the market unless registered.

The effects of this policy are far-reaching - and devastating in terms of the range of products that have been on the market prior to May 2011.  So to delay the pain - and possibly to reduce the risk of an immediate public outcry, the UK has allowed products that were deemed unregistered herbal medicines before April 30 2011 to be sold through by retailers.  Some of these products might have 2 or 3 years shelf life, so this will dampen the effect of the inevitable bans.

Update on ANH/Benefyt legal challenge

The loss of products falling between the various stools of European medicinal and food law is our reason to bring our concerns to a court of law.

We have been working hard with stakeholders across Europe to bring this challenge and we are nearly ready to file.  But the complexity of the case has meant that we are taking a little longer than planned, given we'd hoped to file our case by the end of April.

We will keep you closely informed of our progress, but rest assured we are doing our very best, along with our expert European lawyers, to make sure we have the strongest possible case to help to resolve one of the greatest injustices ever wreaked on natural medicine.

For those of you that have donated to our legal fund, we thank you sincerely for your support.   For others, who have done their bit to communicate the problems facing herbal products in the EU, we are also very grateful.

Now, please do what you can to get as many signatories on to the Avaaz petition.

In health, naturally

Robert Verkerk PhD
Executive and scientific director
Alliance for Natural Health International

Updated: 1 May 2011

I was horrified when my Chinese doctor told me the news about the Europeans banning herbal products. She has been devastated by this; her shop owner is selling up and she has decided to take early retirement. When I suffered a complete physical breakdown 18 years ago the western doctors had no idea what was wrong, and didn't seem that interested. The first Chinese doctor I saw took about 5 minutes to diagnose a liver failure and the herbs she gave me got rid of a major symptom I had had for over a decade in under 12 hours. In short I have improved dramatically and have grown to rely upon not just the herbs but many of the herbal products now under threat. Yes, it is the powerful drug companies behind this -- but what can we do?

Very good,

EU says cigarette, alcohol, medicines with strong side-effects are allowed but no natural herb. Totally foolish!!!

You all the just idiots who will get genetically modified by your own drugs. Thank god India takes no such stupid step.

If only India remains to use Ayurveda and rest of the work bans, that would be no surprise. Because you all are modern robots...

I'm moving to China if this goes through. I am joking, though if I had the money would certainly consider it. I'm trying to spread the word through a youtube video which is currently on the upload ( I found out about this just today. I take various herbs and know them to help. A riot will be certain if this goes through; and I'm normally calm when it comes to talking about the government. Not when health is involved. Health has become the part of my life I have to focus on, due to a drug called Roaccutane which was given to be at the age of 15 (6 years ago). It caused tremendous problems and was merely for acne! I HATE western medicine, so with that as the only option, I have no options.

What's next? Banning cats from eating grass as an emetic?

Yes, that was intentionally facetious; but my point is that however you believe the earth to have been created, it was created to sustain all life that has evolved upon it, whether nutritionally or medicinally. I happen to believe that God masterminded the whole thing. Therefore, to my mind, forcing people to eat GM foods and banning natural medicines in favour of those "created" by chemical companies is just plain evil.

Interested post I learn some things that I didn't know.

I would like to ask (without having to read reams of legislation) on what basis has this action been taken? Presumably it is for the 'safety' of the general public. Where is the evidence of the harm done to the general public; what is the evidence showing; what proof of ill-effects or fatalities are there; what substances were these attributed to; what is the percentage of user population affected by them. Where are these statistics? Laws are made for good reason, they are justified by facts, actual experience and genuine concern. If they are not for good reason, cannot be justified and do not reflect actual harmful events then it is the DUTY OF ALL Goverments to question their validity AND their underlying purpose, not be led by the nose as they are now and get some self-respect.

I agree with some of the other comments that herbs are our right, they are a gift from Nature and we have the right to use them -
the proposed banning is clearly so the pharmaceutical companies can make more money, by taking-out the competition -
We need to stand against them, I wish Mamma Earth the best in the fight against the banning x

My 8 year old and 5 year old have never been to a doctor - they never get sick. We use herbs daily in our lifestyle. We feel good and healthy using them. You can't take them away!!!

The objective now should be to make every not-yet-brainwashed citizen a 'criminal' by encouraging the use, propagation and general proliferation of herbal and 'non-standard' medicines.

They can't get away with this! It makes me so angry!!!!!! We should all just not comply! Herbal companies should just ignore the whole damn thing.... some laws are made to be broken! This is a stupid law that is all about the big corporations having control and nothing about our safety or health!

Whatever org. you belong to; you need to be voted out!!

This is beyond a disgrace it is a crime against humanity.
We have the large GM firms prepping deadly GM seeds to replace all our staple foods.
We have regulation of seeds now that is set to destroy biodiversity in food crops.
We have GM companies buying up seed producers to strangle any competition
We have constant scare mongering from corrupt pharma & corrupt gov officials about hebs and vitamins.
We have attempts in the US & Canada to criminalize veg & herb growing & banning of health alternatives.
We have constant propaganda about how GM is the solution to our ills & how deadly statins should be put into our food.
And now we have this directive, banning herbal traditions that are thousands of years old specifically because they work.
The people behind this have an agenda, it is to turn human beings into slaves to their poisoned foods and toxic meds and to destroy any escape from the nightmare of sickness & dependency they are creating.
This is the stuff of horror movies and it's not fantasy, it's real. It's the greatest threat humanity has ever faced & every step we take down this road is a step closer to a living hell.
It's time to fight these people and time to stop them for good.

The alternative treatments for illnesses have been known to be safe for centuries, this is at best a complete corporate scam and at worst murder for profit, as those now unable to get their natural treatments for cancer will be forced to have poisonous chemotherapy. The testing is a scam and a farce. How come these pharmaceutical drugs undergo this 'rigirous' testing and still get passed on to consumers with a multitude of side effects noted inside the packaged drugs and even the side effect of death? This is russian roulette.
We the people are being conned and exploited and led to our deaths, this is Nazism and that is not an overstated comment.
People need to really speak out and show their anger, this is disgusting and inhumane and the communist loonies running the EU are fascists, fascists like the people our forefathers fought to save us from in world war 1 and world war 2. People need to wake up and fast

I want the herbs to eat and have in medicin, don´t take it away from us, I want to take my responsibility for my self!

we are in the majority. its taken a heck of a lot of effort from the 'corporations' to divide and conquer. if we want to we can unite and overcome this and even hope to heal the people that are responsible for the corruption. peace all :)

I have been taking an ayurvedic product for the control of hypertension for the past three years,and it has been incredibly successful for me.I have had no side-effects whatsoever, which would not be the case if I had been compelled to use one of the major pharmaceutical company products, as they ALL have well documented side effects; many of which I treated during my time as a qualified nurse,and one of the major reasons I looked for alternative therapy when I became hypertensive.
Furthermore I object strongly to the EU nanny state mentality, which has absolutely no right to tell me what I may or may not take to improve my personal wellbeing. Freedom to choose is supposed to be a benchmark of democracy, and I am appalled by the persistent and consistent erosion of this freedom by an unelected, unwanted foreign bureaucracy. GET UP AND FIGHT YOU BRITS. TELL BRUSSELL'S

After watching various changes happen in the past years, it's not surprising that the pharma industry along with other multinational companies are attempting to monopolize and force the people of the world to do it their way. Another interesting report to watch is 'Blue Gold: Water Wars' which is a 6 part documentary about various companies claiming ownership of our water supply of the world.

I have passed your message on to all the people I know in the hope that they will also pass it on to others. I truly hope that people will realize that this is a direct threat to our human rights and our freedom of choice. I'm deeply saddened that not everyone is opening their eyes to see the control mechanism noose slowly being placed around our necks. It's time to stand up and protest.

Save Natural Health!!!
Stop EU Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive!!!

I have tried to sign the petition but it does not work.


I did not realise the ban was actually this close on Ayurvedic medicine, and other "non-approved" herbal remedies.

This is my story: I take Mukta Vati for blood pressure, and have been doing so for 4 years. It really works, even my UK Doctor (who also practices alternative products) has prescribed it! My BP was 185/120 4 years ago. Now, it is a normal 120/70. Without this product, I would be living life dangerously close to a heart attack, stroke, or ruptured aorta (like my Father who died because of this).

I could take Angiotensins, or beta blockers. But at what cost to my health? My Mother takes these for the same problem, and she is now on a cocktail of 16 other drugs to control the "side effects" caused by beta blockers. How stupid and dangerous is that?

So, if this daft law goes through, I will be forced (by law) to take Angiotensin/beta blockers to control blood pressure with horrific and even dangerous side effects. What are these people are trying to achieve? I can only think its about more revenue for multi-national pharmaceutical giants, who are also fuelling the coffers of Governments with taxes.

I have signed the petition, and would protest in public.

Who gives us the right to be told about our own decisions about our own health?

This must be stopped!!

Jeff B, UK

I am a Chinese medicine practitioner trained and graduated at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine with a Ph.D. Since 1998 I have been lecturing at the RMIT University in Melbourne on Chinese medicine and am a registered Chinese medicine practitioner in Melbourne with the Chinese Medicine Registration Board of Victoria, Australia. I have found that the EU directive in targeting Chinese medicine product is very draconian and will have many undesirable ramifications on the profession and industry.
I would like to appeal to the authority to re-consider this matter before implementation.
Greta Young (Ph.D)

Herbs and choice are our right by nature.

No-one can ban what the Earth offers to all creatures! Any other action against this is illegal towards humans and humanity, towards Life itself!

Governments are following the commands of the corporations. This is clearly shown by the THMPD (Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive). Since Governments do not care to protect us Citizens (and not consumers) we should declare them as an obstacle to our evolution. Our evolution goes hand in hand with nature. Nature is our Home.

corporations are far more in numbers than the states of the US!
In specific: Of the hundred dominant economic units in the world today, the hundred largest economic units — that’s the word they used was units — forty-nine are countries, and fifty-one are corporations.

Therefore and if we think rationally, we come to the conclusion I mentioned above, that Governments are following the will of corporations! And we all know what translates as the "will of corporations"=more money!

This is going to fail as well as everyone is behind this mechanism.

Thank you so much for being the beacon of love that you are. I know you know the bigger picture, and that fills me with so much joy... Blessings to you xxx

There are still other aspects: Some religions like taoism, budism and others have complementary medicine and the usage of some healing plants as integral part of their daily routines, rituals and philosophical basis. the ban is similar to banning these religions!

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