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On 26th March 2015 the Department of Health published its ‘Report on the Regulation of Herbal Medicines’, authored by Professor David Walker. You can access the full report at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advice-on-regulating-herbal-medicines-and-practitioners – but it is summed up thus: –

‘Having taken into account the evidence available and the views of representatives of the sector, I consider that despite strong calls by many for statutory regulation, there is not yet a credible scientific evidence base to demonstrate risk from both products and practitioners which would support this step.’ (p.28).

This effectively puts the whole issue of the statutory regulation of herbal medicine ‘on ice’ for the foreseeable future. Hooray! A victory for clear thinking, common sense and the precautionary principle! Let’s hope this is the end of the top-down dictatorial bureaucracy that has plagued herbal medicine for so long, and heralds a new era for the grass-roots approach that The Herbarium has joined so many others in fostering.

However, you may have noticed that The Herbarium has been ‘on ice’ itself for more than a year. It’s true to say that those of us who have been working diligently to counter statutory regulation for years (in some cases, decades) have found it arduous and on occasions personally very distressing, so at the risk of mixing metaphors, we feel somewhat burnt out. Equally in the last year or two, we have all found ourselves moving on in one way or another – new homes, new children, new jobs.

The Herbarium will remain on the internet as a reference – the ‘political’ posts may have some historic interest, more importantly the practical medicine-making files, and our other informative articles still continue to grow in relevance and popularity. There might be more to add in time – perhaps new blood, new inspiration – but for now, we’re resting! A big ‘thank you’ to everybody who has looked this way, subscribed, commented, and most important, used the Herbarium as a practical workbook.

Neil Pellegrini (‘herbalistic’)

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