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The Future of Herbal Medicines Within Modern Society

What are Herbal Medicines?

“Herbalism is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, and phytotherapy.” 1 These medicines use plant-based materials for the treatment of specific symptoms or diseases with many herbs and herbal formulations having been used for centuries within different cultures e.g. India and China.

Current Trends and Regulations

Today, the public is more informed about their health and the options available to them to prevent and/or treat disease. Couple this knowledge with the current focus on organics and health foods, herbal medicines have become increasingly popular. The traditional herbs and herbal formulations used in India and China are making their way into Europe and so increasing the range of herbal medicines available. Because of this trend, it is even more important that people are aware that herbal medicines do have a physiological effect on the body and therefore, should be used with care. Until recently, the regulation of herbal remedies within the UK has been fairly relaxed but particular safety concerns have come to light, for example, the interaction of St John’s Wort with some conventional medicines.

Currently herbal medicines can reach the market via the following three routes:

o Unlicensed herbal remedies

o Registered traditional herbal medicines

o Licensed herbal medicines

a) Unlicensed herbal remedies

At the moment most herbal remedies within the UK are unlicensed as they are exempt from holding a product licence or marketing authorisation as per the exemption outlined in Section 12 of the Medicines Act 1968.

b) Registered traditional herbal medicines

On the 30th October 2005 a new scheme the “Traditional Herbal Medicines Registration Scheme” was introduced within the UK which is also a requirement of the European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products (2004/24/EC). This is a simplified registration scheme where remedies are required to meet standards of safety and quality but not necessarily the same level of efficacy as for a fully licensed product.

c) Licensed herbal medicines

Currently there are approximately 500 herbal medicines which have a product licence (marketing authorisation). In order to obtain a product licence, a company has to demonstrate that their herbal medicine meets certain standards of safety, quality and efficacy. For many, it has been difficult to meet the required criteria and this is one of the reasons why the Traditional Herbal Medicines Registration Scheme has been introduced. Licensed herbal medicines can be readily identified by a unique nine number Product Licence number on the product container or packaging with the prefix “PL”.

The Future

Due to safety and quality concerns, the sale of unlicensed herbal remedies is no longer allowed and all herbal medicines must have either a Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) or a Product Licence (PL). There is, however, one exception to this and that’s where the herbal remedy can meet both of the following requirements:

1) it is legally on the UK market as an unlicensed herbal remedy in accordance with s12(2) of the Medicines Act 1968 and

2) was also legally on the UK market under s12(2) at 30 April 2004

As long as the herbal remedy does meet these two requirements, it will qualify for transitional protection and, therefore, can continue to be marketed as an unlicensed herbal remedy until 30 April 2011 provided it continues to comply with the requirements of s12(2). 2

All companies must take note that any herbal remedy which does not have a Traditional Herbal Registration or a Product Licence after 30 April 2011 will not be allowed to sell or market their remedy. If it is already on the market, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will insist that it is withdrawn even if the company has submitted their application and are waiting for approval.

Recently, the MHRA demonstrated their authority to withdraw a product from the market. They discovered that Neal’s Yard Remedies’ homeopathic product “Malaria Officinalis 30c” didn’t have a product licence even though all homeopathic remedies are classed as medicines and this product was clearly to be used for the treatment or prevention of malaria. The company have now withdrawn this remedy.3

Today, the challenge for herbal companies is to provide the correct information to satisfy the criteria and standards set by the MHRA in order to continue selling their herbal remedies. With tight budgets and lack of resources, it is important to consultant a regulatory professional who has experience in liaising with the MHRA and deals with regulations on a day-to-day basis. A regulatory compliance consultancy, such as Global Regulatory Services, can help ease this extra regulatory burden and ensure that herbal remedies can continue to be offered to the public as a safe alternative and/or complementary product to conventional medicine.

1 Source: Wikipedia Encyclopedia

2 Source: MHRA

3 Source: MHRA Press Release, 6 May 2008

Natural Herbal Medicine

Have you ever tried a natural or herbal remedy to cure a condition or possibly for everyday usage? Some people think of herbal remedies are a ruse to lure people in and buy products. However now a days even medical doctors are realizing the benefits of natural herbal remedies. Herbs have been in use for over 5,000 years with several different cultures including Sumerian, Greek, Egyptian, Arabian, Roman, German, Swiss, and English.

The western culture has been using herbal medicine for thousands of years making herbalism one of the oldest forms of medicine. Additionally it is possibly one of the most widespread medicines with about 80% of the worlds population still using herbal medicine. Herbal medicine unlike conventional medicine is not only used for treatment of symptoms or conditions. Herbal medicine prevents diseases and illnesses, maintains proper daily body functioning and enhances mental attitude, appearance and performance. Herbal remedies can be used to help in areas such as digestion, respiratory, circulation, immune, endocrine, nervous system, detoxification, and externally for the skin, hair and nails. Herbal experimentation has been the basis for both Indian herbal medicine known as Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicine.

Chinese herbal medicine reflects Chinese belief that the universe is made up of energy called chi. Additionally human beings have an innate relationship with the world and environment surrounding them through chi; the human body is a small universe within itself made up of complex systems of energy and matter that works to maintain health of body and mind. Chinese herbal medicine is the primary therapeutic modality for internal medicine in China. This is used in conjunction with external modalities such as acupuncture, acupressure, massage, tai chi, meditation, dermabrasion and food therapy. With over 500 Chinese herbs, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) combines herbs to create specific formulas to fit the individual patient.

Indian herbal medicine also known as Ayurvedic medicine and is the oldest organized system of medicine. Today we classify it as a complementary and alternative medicine but to Indians is known as the divine medicine due to its long history. Ayurvedic is grounded in the understanding that the universe and the body are composed of five great elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. Additionally Ayurveda stresses the importance of balance through three elemental energies. Everyone possesses these energies or doshas as they are known. These doshas are important because when they are balanced within the body, then you are healthy, but when they become imbalanced the body possesses diseases. Ayurveda stresses the importance of a healthy metabolic system, proper digestion, and proper excretion to lead to vitality. In addition exercise, yoga, meditation and massage maintain the external body. Therefore, Ayurvedic medicine addresses the body, mind and spirit as a whole for perfect health.

Herbal medicine no matter where it is being used derives from the earth’s plants. A natural remedy can use any part of that plant, the root, the stem, the flower, the seeds, even the liquid inside the plant. This is why there are so many herbs that exist because from each plant there can be several different herbs extracted and several different uses as well. Herbal remedies come in all types of forms such as a pill, capsule, gel, ointment, cream, liquid, oil, or tea. Many common herbal remedies can be found right under our noses in our very own kitchens. Such as garlic, cinnamon, ginger, peppermint, tumeric, and chamomile tea. Herbal supplements can be taken singularly or mixed together to achieve a specific result. Common conditions that have found relief through herbal remedies include angina, arthritis, skin care, thyroid, urinary tract infections and many more. New products are coming out that help for additional problems such as smoking cessation, removing unwanted hair, and eliminating wrinkles.

The switch to herbal and natural medicine has been a long and slow process, however the population as a whole has shown a shift from traditional medicine with prescriptions and nasty side effects to natural, organic products. With more and more healthcare practitioners promoting more natural ways to relieve symptoms, herbal medicine is making its official debut into modern medicine. Why wait to go see a doctor to get a prescription that costs outrageous amounts of money that could cause them additional symptoms? Natural herbal remedies can be bought at the local store or you may already have it in your kitchen cabinet. So why not try a natural herbal remedy to treat your problem? It may change the way you live your life.

Herbal Medicine

Find Herbal Medicine Schools in the United States and Canada. Herbal medicine schools instruct students in the essentials of herbalism and botanical medicine. Students who opt to enroll in herbal medicine schools will learn that this form of medicine is one of the oldest healthcare systems known to mankind.

Typically, students who possess an interest in participating in herbal studies at one of several herbal medicine schools should have attained some education in physiology and/or anatomy prior to enrollment. This is important, as it lends to the student’s ability to better understand the philosophy and theories behind herbal medicine therapies.

While some herbal medicine schools focus primarily on traditional Chinese medicine, other herbal medicine schools may provide a wider array of classes that encompass studies in botany, botanical terminology, phytochemistry (of medicinal plants), cell chemistry, medicinal plant compounds, Ayurvedic medicine, Native American plant medicine, herbal pharmacy, diagnosis, clinic and case history; among other related topics.

Students enrolled in herbal medicine schools will gain an overall understanding of how herbal medicine is facilitated for spices, therapy and/or medicinal purposes. In addition, students will learn from which plants herbs are derived, and how to use those herbs for not only medicinal purposes, but for nutritional additives and aromatherapy. Because herb plants produce and comprise a myriad of chemical substances, students participating in studies at herbal medicine schools will also learn that 25% of prescription drugs in the US contain at least one active plant material ingredient.

Successful candidates, who have completed all course requirements through one of many herbal medicine schools can go onto achieve varying levels of herbal medicine certifications. Many of these certified herbal medicine therapists can enter the healthcare fields of Ayurvedic practitioners, homeopathic practitioners, natural health practitioners, Chinese medicine practitioners and other holistic health practitioners. In addition, astute candidates who have completed advanced training courses at one of many herbal medicine schools may utilize their knowledge and skills to help develop plant medicines for pharmaceutical researchers.

Because herbal medicine schools vary in course length, tuition costs and curriculum, it is always wise for prospective students to carefully review course outlines, prerequisites (if any) and if financial aid options are available. Generally speaking, herbal medicine schools are growing in quantity because the demand for alternative and natural medicine is concurrently on the rise. Students and even current health professionals who are seeking a rewarding alternative in health care will find that gaining a comprehensive education through any one of numerous herbal medicine schools can only benefit one’s personal and professional growth.

To learn more about the benefits of herbal medicine or to locate herbal medicine schools near you, feel free to peruse our healing arts schools and holistic health practitioners’ directories.

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