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Herbal remedies

Herbal remedies have been used to treat ailments for centuries and health-conscious consumers are increasingly turning to nature for their aches and pains. But new regulations governing the sale of natural remedies could soon mean some disappear from shelves.

At the end of this month, regulations introduced by the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) will force manufacturers to provide proof that herbs marketed as treatments for specific conditions have been used as such for at least 30 years here in the UK and at least 15 years in the EU.

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Each medicine will also require clearly marked dosage instructions and a patient safety leaflet. Those remedies that have met the criteria will then carry a THR number on the pack.

The new rules are aimed at "putting consumers in the driving seat" when it comes to herbal medicines. Even those that have shown evidence of positive effects (St John's Wort for mild depression, for example) have the potential for side effects.

Chief science adviser at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, told the Daily Express: "People often equate natural with safe but a lot of these remedies are actually quite potent and can cause side effects. Some also interact with prescription medicines."

However, the scheme is not without it's critics. Though registration of remedies may offer better safety advice for consumers, natural medicines are not required to undergo the rigorous testing that licenced medicines do and some argue that buyers will wrongly believe that a THR number is proof that the medicine works.

Professor of pharmacology at University College London, explained: "Registration is better from the point of view of toxicity and safety but the labelling is very misleading."

His concerns surround the disclaimer printed on products which suggests health claims are "based on traditional use only".

"Nine out of 10 people will read 'traditional use' as 'it works'," he told the paper.

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Posted in Business Post Date 11/15/2015


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