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– Fostering Autonomy, Accountability and Self-Reliance among Western Herbalists

Introduction

Most Western Herbalists in the UK belong to Professional Associations (PAs). These organisations are currently very proactive in pursuing the regulation of herbalists and their medicines by the state.

The purpose of this document is to set out an alternative framework by which herbalists can organise themselves, one that avoids unnecessary state interference or the pitfalls manifested by the hierarchical organisation of existing PAs.

Brief Analysis of the Current Situation

At present we have a fractured (and sick) community of herbalists. Most herbalists work in isolation and have infrequent contact with their peers and elders. Most PAs, nominally the prime custodians of herbal medicine, are currently dominated by a status-driven minority that is out of touch with the needs and aspirations of most rank-and-file members. Herbalists have for a long time been told that statutory regulation (SR) is inevitable. This has tended to a sense of apathy among the majority and a helpless assent to a flawed legislative programme. In consequence, if these plans come to fruition, PA members will soon be compelled to enrol with the Health Professions Council (HPC) – an organisation offering the same centralised, top-down hierarchical structure as allopathic medicine, the NHS in general, and just about everything else that has failed to escape the attention of modern government.

We decline to accept the so-called ‘professionalisation’ of herbal medicine under the above arrangements, which is damaging to the interests of patients and practitioners alike. As practitioners we attempt to empower our patients by promoting autonomy, self-accountability and self-reliance. Thus it would be incongruous for us to voluntarily enter into arrangements designed to disempower us as people. We believe that it would not be possible to maintain our integrity as practitioners while being members of the HPC, an organisation whose norms and procedures would undermine our core values.

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