e.g Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Unani, Western Herbalism, other traditional herbalist practitioners…
Dr Verkerk attended the 5th World Ayurveda Congress and Arogya Expo which was held in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India on 7th-10th of December 2012. Dr Verkerk was speaking at the event, as well as acting as the UK Coordinator for the second time. The focal theme for the event was ‘Enriching Public Health Through Ayurveda’
As interested parties, you will probably already know that around 2 years ago the European Commission put any further assessment of health claims for botanicals by the European Food Safety Authority on hold. In August, presumably to see if stakeholders might be able to get them out of their quandry, the European Commission launched a consultation through the EU Member States. Some of you may have been involved in the consultation.
At ANH-Intl, we’ve submitted our own response, and we will be following this up in due course both at Commission and Member State level once the consultation outcomes are in the public domain. ANH-Intl is committed to efforts to facilitate a solution on the use of botanicals relating to claims and for continued use of herbal ingredients outside of Traditional Herbal Medicinal Product Directive (2004/24/EC) and European medicinal law (Directive 2001/83/EC as amended). Our planned legal challenge solution, while being greatly delayed beyond our initial expectations based on us needing to secure the required legal standing, is still very much alive. We are more confident than ever before that the circumstances might soon be in place for us to initiate judicial proceedings.
On the subject of health claims on botanicals, we’d like to draw your attention to our recent article: Botanical health claims under scrutiny in August holiday. See also Campaign Feature: UK authorities go after Echinacea for kids, in which we have commented on the UK MHRA’s guidance to avoid giving children under the age of 12 Echinacea. Included in this piece is a simple poll, and we would be grateful for your input here. It won’t take you more than a few seconds of your time! Many thanks.
Alliance for Natural Health International announced its intention (March 2010) to initiate a legal challenge to the European directive on traditional herbal medicines. Your herbal practice may be seriously threatened from April 2011. Please read our position paper to find out how your practice may benefit from this crucial action.
Download A5 'call to action' flyer
View our dedicated herb challenge webpage, for all the relevant updates
In response to our query, the UK Department of Health (DOH) have today confirmed that the public consultation on the UK statutory intrument that will legitimise the statutory regulation of herbalists has been moved from late this year (2011) to "early next year, but not January". Once the date is set, it will be published on the 'Consultations' page of the DOH website, as well as on the 'What's new on the site' page. We'll of course let you know as well.
UK herbalists and those organisations that represent their interests must all be vigilant and proactive to ensure that the final shape of statutory regulation is recognisable from the broad sketch we were given by the Minister earlier in the year.
For these reasons, it is vitally important that all UK herbalists get actively engaged in the public consultation once it is underway.
When the UK government announced that Statutory Regulation (SR) for UK herbalists would go ahead, many breathed a sigh of relief about the future of herbal medicine, their ability to continue practising. But we believe that there should be no complacency about any of this. See our news item: Yes, minister? Or not? Contradictions in UK government policy on herbalist statutory regulation.
Herbalists are in the process of being affected by the following EU laws.
Click on the links below to read about how this legislation may affect you:
Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive
European Commission summary
EC specific provisions
ANH briefing paper THMPD
ANH response to EMEA re THMPD challenges
EC Medicinal products for human use (herbal) - Major developments
Now that the UK government has announced that Statutory Regulation (SR) for UK herbalists will go ahead, many have breathed a sigh of relief about the future of herbal medicine, their ability to access herbal products and to continue practising. But we believe that there should be no complacency about any of this. See our news item: Yes, minister? Or not? Contradictions in UK government policy on herbalist statutory regulation.
The UK Medicines Act 1968, Section 12(2) has now been superseded by EU law. Section 12(1) is also under threat. SR has been seen by many herbalists as the only hope for maintaining supply of herbal products. Chinese medicine, and Ayurvedic sectors rely particularly on traditional formulations made by third-party supply. There are some herbalists, however, who are particularly unhappy about the idea of SR.
Interested parties had (in 2009) called on as many practitioners—and their patients and supporters —as possible to respond to the UK Department of Health (DoH) “joint consultation on the Report to Ministers from the DH Steering Group on the Statutory Regulation of Practitioners of Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Other Traditional Medicine Systems Practised in the UK”. Herbalists and practitoners, and their supporters made their views known to their Members of Parliament (MPs)—this was seen by some as a last chance café for national democracy, before it’s all swept away in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty which will see all public health matters—throughout Europe—managed centrally in Brussels.
1st December 2009: Prince Charles urges the UK Government to regulate herbal medicine.
19th March 2010: NIMH Press Release 'Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health, urged by NIMH not to make the wrong decision on statutory regulation of herbal medicine'
UK Health Secretary 'minded to legislate' for regulation of Herbalists. Read Times Online article.
The use of the randomised controlled trial, or more rather its abuse, along with meta-analyses and systematic reviews based on these types of trials, to evaluate herbalism, creates a big hurdle for herbalism, whether of European or non-European origin.
To find out about how professor Ernst and colleagues are, in the opinion of the ANH, misleading us, read the following articles:
Studies encouraging a safety crackdown on herbs
A new Canadian study in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, December 2009, warns of potential harm associated with the increased use of herbal medicinal products, and calls for various measures to "more accurately elucidate the toxicity of herbal medicines".
Read more in NutraIngredients article: 'More Safeguards needed for Herbal Medicinal Products: Study'
A University of Adelaide study, published online in Journal of Forensic Sciences, January 2010 also attempts to warn of various risks associated with herbal medicine, but, according to the founder and chief executive of American Botanical Council (ABC), Mark Blumenthal, "the paper suffers from gross and misinformed generalizations such as the idea that botanicals are inherently unsafe, whereas pharma products are safe". The author also refers to toad venom as a botanical!
Read more about this ABC rebuttal, in NutraIngredients-USA.com article: 'Herb attack scientist fails to get facts straight: ABC'
There has been a plethora of press which aims to show herbalism in a bad light. Here is a key example:
PhD girl is killed by Chinese treatment: Did Ling ‘Carrie’ Wang really die of an adverse reaction to a Chinese herbal medicine? Is there proper evidence of a link between her taking Jin Bu Huang and suffering liver poisoning, leading to her death? Is this problem linked to all herbal medicines – or could it have been a bad batch? What of the 200 or so deaths a year in the UK alone from Over-The-Counter (OTC) paracetamol which is rarely reported in the media…?
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