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Archive for herbal medicine

The Statutory Regulation of herbal medicine in the UK

A letter from Emma Farrant of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine:

This is possibly your last chance to make the government listen

As you may know, we have learned that Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health may be making a decision any day now about how to regulate the herbal medicine sector, following the Department of Health’s consultation on this matter.
There is a very real possibility that the government is considering a “light touch licensing scheme” instead of granting us Statutory Regulation. This would be disastrous for the future of herbal medicine and we herbalists in the UK.

Each of the professional associations that make up the EHTPA, including the RCHM, is urging its members to write to Andy Burnham now, in order to have an impact on his decision.  There has been a suggestion made to the government by some mistaken members of the public that herbalists are against statutory regulation.  We cannot allow Mr.Burnham to use this as an excuse not to regulate us.

Let’s flood Andy Burnham with letters right now, and give him serious pause for thought at the final hour.

Please use the
attached letter and send it today!

With best wishes

Emma Farrant

RCHM, Office 5, Ferndale Business Centre, 1 Exeter Street, Norwich, NR2 4QB
Telephone: 01603 623994 Fax: 01603 667557


I wanted a more morally satisfying career

Rebecca Clarke is a 34-year old acupuncturist based in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire.  She studied acupuncture and herbs at LCTA, graduating with a BSc in Acupuncture in 2005 and with an MSc in Oriental Herbal Medicine in 2008.  Prior to studying at LCTA, she was an IT consultant.  Here she answers some questions about her studies and her experience in setting up a practice.

What made you decide to retrain?

I wanted a more morally satisfying career and I didn’t want to work weekends and evenings – hah that one didn’t work! 🙂

How did you find LCTA?

I began my studies in the North of England but due to a job change that brought me down to Hertfordshire, I decided to relocate my studies as the commute was unbearable. I found LCTA through the internet.

What were the main factors that influenced your choice of College?

LCTA was the closest College to my new job and the open day impressed me.  A course was about to start and I had recently had a particularly nightmarish weekend journeying up to York and jumped at the chance of not having to do it again.

What was your favourite aspect of the course?

The way it changed the way I think about the world I live in and the people I live in it with.

What were your fellow students like?

Fabulous, most of us still meet up a couple of times each year.

What did you think of the LCTA staff/tutors?

They are a diverse and interesting bunch of people with a great deal to offer.

Was the course/College what you expected it to be?

It was tough but it was rewarding.  I don’t think I knew what to expect from it.

What was it like to be a student at LCTA?

It was a journey and a privilege.

What kind of practice do you run and where are you based?

I work in Harley Street, Chiswick and Rickmansworth.  In Harley Street and Chiswick I work with a team of other acupuncturists and we do a lot of fertility work, although not exclusively. Chiswick and Rickmansworth are both multi-disciplinary clinics where I work with practitioners of other therapies.

What was the transition from student to practitioner like for you?

Slow, it takes patience or possibly marketing. I continued studying for two and a half years after qualifying and was still in another full-time job for nine months before I was able to become a full-time practitioner.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I think I should have waited and started my herbs course after acupuncture graduation. I was trying to hold down a full-time job whilst doing acupuncture finals and starting a herbs course. It  was too much for me.

What are you plans for the future?

Oh my plans are huge! I want to learn Mandarin, study herbs in Chengdu, get a horticultural diploma at Kew and study Quantum mechanics. I haven’t decided which or which order as yet….oh and to start doing a daily qi practice.

Do you have any tips for current or prospective students of TCM?

Although I think people did try and tell us this, the one thing that is hard to face is that you are running a business, you do need to make a living. Separating or perhaps actually integrating the ‘I want to help people to be well’ from the reality of earning a living is not easy.

The Statutory Regulation of Chinese Medicine: What you can do to help ensure it happens

Advice from LCTA Principal, Bonny Williams.

Statutory Regulation is essential for herbal medicine in this country. Having been committed to it so far, the government now looks like it has lost momentum.

Do not imagine that because the latest round of consultation on Statutory Regulation for Chinese medicine has passed, there is nothing more you can contribute. Even if you have already responded, whether you are a patient, a practitioner or an interested bystander, please write to your MP again urging the Government to go ahead with Statutory Regulation without any further delay. Each time you write a letter, your MP will let the Minister know that another letter has been received on this matter and the Minister will write back. This adds to the 5000 or so letters she has already received in this consultation round. Every single one helps our case.

So what do you say? Here is a rundown of the current situation:

Why statutory regulation is in the public interest:

  • Government has committed to statutory regulation of herbal medicine and acupuncture practitioners since 2001. In 1995 it published the result of a public consultation showing a 98% positive public response in favour of statutory regulation of this sector, but since then they have lost momentum. Now another public consultation has just finished. If statutory regulation is not granted very soon, the impact of new EU legislation on herbal practice and supply in 2011 will be devastating.
  • Herbal medicine is very popular and its use in the UK is widespread. According to an Ipsos MORI poll  (November 2008) conducted for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), 26% of UK adults have used a herbal medicine in the last two years and of those using herbal medicines, 56% had used a herbal medicine supplied by a practitioner.
  • The only way to be assured of well-qualified practitioners is via statutory regulation. Neither voluntary regulation nor licensing ensure independent regulation and accreditation of training programmes or continuous professional development. Only statutory regulation can ensure the continued availability of a wide range of herbal products.
  • Statutory regulation will make practitioners ‘authorised health professionals’ under the terms of the main EU Medicines Directive (2001/83/EC) and will allow them to have herbal medicines made by third-party manufacturers and suppliers under licence from the MHRA. This will ensure good quality products and continued supply of a wide range of herbal medicines
  • If herbalists are statutorily regulated like osteopaths and chiropractors, doctors will be able to safely refer patients for treatment

What will happen if statutory regulation does not go ahead:

  • If statutory regulation does not happen, the 2011 EU directive specifies that herbal medicines made for specific patients by a third party supplier should be removed from the market (e.g. traditional Chinese herbal medicine products).   Without statutory regulation, only herbal mixtures made on the practitioners’ own premises will be allowed to be supplied to patients. This will mean a great loss of consumer choice. Also a considerable number of suppliers and practitioners will go out of business.
  • As a result consumers will be forced to buy from unsafe internet sites or from bogus back-street practitioners.
  • Herbal medicine training is now to degree level – a postgraduate MSc degree at LCTA. Without statutory regulation universities will be reluctant to support herbal training – undoing years of work to ensure high standards of training.

If you think herbal medicine should be allowed to survive in this country, please write to your MP today in support of herbal Statutory Regulation. It will make a real difference.