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Herbal Medicine News

Herbal Alliance

At the end of 2019, Sebastian Pole, member of the APA, RCHM and honorary member of the URHP, reached out to all the heads of the herbal practitioner’s associations in the UK, to organise a 'Unity Day' with an objective to focus on our connectedness as a herbal community, to coordinate our efforts together to raise awareness and build confidence in the safety, efficacy and sustainability of herbal medicine as well as creating a unifying voice.

Following this meeting Sebastian appointed Marie Faire and Paul King of The Beyond Partnership to progress this initiative through interviewing a number of herbalists from different associations and interest groups, to feedback their findings and offer suggestions for the way ahead. The findings showed that was widespread enthusiasm for bringing the different strands of the herbal community together. Both the challenges and the resources in our community were highlighted in order to effectively form a united way forward.

What has been created from this initial seed of an idea being planted, is The Herbal Alliance, and it continues to slowly unfurl and grow.

There are four aims:

  • Heal the herbal community through collaboration and shared principles.
  • Empower individual herbalists by acting as one community.
  • Enhance visibility with a unified voice.
  • Cooperate to address the Nature and Health crises.

The structure of The Herbal Alliance is linked very strongly with Nature and follows the design and principles of Nature. It is not a top down organisation, but one is which various community action teams (CATs), focus on particular goals and targets. These CATs work alongside each other as well as with other organisations such as regulators, suppliers, patients, lay groups and media. At present, each CAT is a cluster of 7 people who organise themselves with their particular objectives. They will meet in these groups regularly and then quarterly with all members to share progress and agree next actions in line with the common vision, which is 'To raise the profile of herbal medicine and make it accepted and accessible to all in society'. At present there are 5 CATs : Education, Research, Supply, Community and Shaping The Future. These CATs will increase in number as the Alliance flourishes and grows.

The principles of the Alliance, which are key to its success, credibility and integrity, are as follows:

'We are believers in helping all herbalists and the profession thrive.
We gain inspiration from Nature for developing our culture as a living system.
We integrate vitalistic and scientific world views.
We are committed to positively impacting people, plants and planet.
We will work together collaboratively.
We will thrive on diversity and inclusion.
We are adaptive to change.
We will actively listen and learn.'

This whole process of growing a new and vibrant collaborative community is being done mindfully and slowly, integrating creative ideas of the best way forward, along the way. The website www.herbalalliance.uk is being developed at present, in order to give it an identity and have a shared platform available for all. Other future plans include developing an aligned strategy with project based outcomes; establishing new CATs; create a collective magazine from all PA magazines; develop and conduct a survey to ascertain what herbalists need and then review how this approach is all working in a year.

EHTPA Work for 2016 and into 2017

By any standards 2016 has been an eventful year. In June, the UK voted narrowly to leave the EU – the so-called Brexit. Understandably, herbal practitioners have been asking what does this mean for practice and the future of the EHTPA.

EU work

Although the EHTPA is based in the UK, it has an important EU role in representing herbal medicine and its practice throughout the EU. The EHTPA was a stakeholder in the CAMbrella project run by the EU Commission. This was a European research network for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that conducted a research program into the situation of CAM in Europe between 2010 and 2012  - see http://www.cambrella.eu/.

EUROCAM

The EHTPA is a member of EUROCAM - a network of European organisations representing CAM patients and trained CAM health professionals, including medical doctors, veterinarians and other practitioners. The aim of EUROCAM is to promote the contribution of CAM - Complementary and Alternative Medicine - to better health in Europe. Among other things, EUROCAM is seeking to advance the recommendations made by CAMbrella and promote the role of herbal medicine. It has for example presented a paper on antimicrobial resistance and CAM (in which herbal medicine plays a central role) to the Commission and Parliamentarians - see http://cam-europe.eu/eu-antibiotics-awareness-day-18-november.php. In addition, the Chair of the EHTPA has produced a briefing paper for EUROCAM on the regulation of herbal medicine in the EU that accompanies this report. In the coming year there are EUROCAM plans to make three presentations in the European Parliament on topics on which CAM can make important contributions to healthcare. The first of these is likely to be on musculo-skeletal conditions. The date, time and venue of this presentation will be announced shortly. Through EUROCAM, the EHTPA continues to make the case for herbal medicine and its practice throughout the EU.

Brexit

There is understandable uncertainty following the UK's decision to leave the EU. However, it appears highly likely that, UK medicines regulation will continue to act in accordance with the provisions of the main EU pharmaceutical Directive (2001/83/EC) and the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) scheme under the Traditional Herbal Medicines Directive (2004/24/EC). This will ensure that the UK keeps in step with European Medicines Agency (EMA) consensus on the regulation of medicines which extends beyond the EU to include the wider European Economic Area (EEA). It is most unlikely that the UK will cut itself off from the EU markets for medicine. Despite talk of ‘hard Brexit’ (leaving the EU with no trade agreements in place), the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has called for a transitional deal – in which Britain would pay for access to the single market for about 24 months after leaving the EU – would help to ensure a 'smooth' Brexit. He said: "The further we go into this discussion, the more likely it is that we will mutually conclude that we need a longer period to deliver." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/12/philip-hammond-backs-calls-transitional-deal-brexit/

The EHTPA will, of course, continue to work for the advancement of herbal medicine in the UK and across Europe since it represents a number of national professional herbal associations in EU and non-EU countries delivering quality herbal training and expert herbal treatments as well as undertaking research into herbal medicine. In short, the EHTPA continues to roll out its mission while taking full account of the 'Brexit' decision and its outcomes.

New independent validating body for herbal medicine courses

The EHTPA is delighted to announce that alongside herbal medicine courses run by UK universities, it has arranged a new independent validating body for herbal medicine training.

The EHTPA is now working in partnership with the ABC Awards Quality Licence Scheme Plus+ to ensure that all EHTPA accredited courses outside universities are independently validated by ABC Awards to Level 6 Equivalency, this being the Level required to apply for EHTPA Accreditation. The ABC Awards validation is entirely independent of the EHTPA; its QLS + Validation Process is conducted by qualified and competent educationalists. This arrangement secures the future development of high quality herbal training in the UK and is consistent with the standards that were agreed by the Department of Health Pittilo report in 2008 https://openair.rgu.ac.uk/handle/10059/176). The document, The Validation of Herbal Medicine Courses – that explains the detail can be accessed on the EHTPA website http://ehtpa.eu/. In addition, the EHTPA is also looking closely at more flexible ways of delivering herbal medicine training.

Research

The EHTPA is pleased to announce that it has published on its website an important review entitled Scoping study on herbal medicine and type 2 diabetes - Download the study here. (pdf). This paper is part of ongoing EHTPA commitment to furthering research into herbal medicine effectiveness for treating a number of common conditions. Herbal medicine has the potential to play a major role in meeting the needs of patients with long-term chronic diseases, in combating the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance as well as in the general health maintenance of EU citizens.

EHTPA Reaffirmation of Purpose

Publication of the Walker report on the future of herbal medicine practice in the UK in the dying days of the UK Coalition Government in March 2015 resulted in continuing uncertainty within the profession about the benefits of statutory versus voluntary regulation and how best to secure the future of the profession. At the start of 2017, the UK Government has yet to respond to this report.

The EHTPA has undertaken a review of its aims, work and structure and with the support of its constituent professional associations from across the herbal traditions remains dedicated to securing a secure legislative basis for herbal practice in the UK and more widely throughout the EU.

The EHTPA will continue to make the case for the statutory regulation of herbal practitioners in the interests of the millions of UK citizens regularly seeking herbal treatment.

In pursuit of this, the EHTPA has written to the UK government rejecting the main recommendations of the Walker report which was repudiated by the majority of the expert committee convened by the Department of Health to advise the Minister on the best way forward.

The EHTPA remains committed to ensuring that the benefits of herbal medicine are widely available through well trained, dedicated herbal practitioners and through its well-established Accreditation Board, the EHTPA continues to accredit UK training institutions providing high quality training in herbal medicine in its various traditions (Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal medicine).

The EHTPA continues to act as a platform for its constituent professional associations representing the Western, Ayurvedic, Chinese and Tibetan herbal sectors to promote the benefits of herbal medicine to a wider public.

Working with other interested partners including the British Herbal Medicine Association, the EHTPA continues work to ensure the provision of quality herbal medicines for use by practitioners for the benefit of their patients.

EHTPA interim response to the Government’s response to the Walker Report on the future of Herbal Medicine Practice in the UK - 5th March 2017

On 28th February the Government responded to the Walker Report in a ministerial statement in the Commons (repeated in the Lords).

You can read this response and refresh your memory about the Walker Report as well as read the report prepared by the Herbal Medicine Advisory Committee (HMAC) using these links:

The statement from Nicola Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Sec of State for Health is available at:
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2017-02-28/HCWS505/

The Walker Report is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/417768/Report_on_Regulation_of_Herbal_Medicines_and_Practitioners.pdf

The HMAC safety report is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/545681/HMAC_-_HerbalsafetyOctober2014Final.pdf

As you will read, the Government accepts the majority of the Walker Report’s recommendations rejecting the second and third recommendations. Rejection of the second recommendation The Report also recognises the impact of the EU’s Herbal Directive on access to some herbal medicinal products by recommending consideration of: a system to allow small scale assembly of products off-site on a named patient basis (recommendation 3); and inviting a review by the European Commission on the operation of the Herbal Directive (recommendation 4). means that the Government will not reclassify herbal medicines as foods. This is welcome news because the herbs used as foods are not subject to risk benefit assessment and are not permitted to have any adverse effects.

Walker’s third recommendation, which called on the Government to consider a system to allow small scale assembly of products off site on a named patient basis, has been rejected. This is disappointing as it is very difficult for many individual practitioners to service their patients’ needs without such third party supply. We will be seeking to discuss this further with the Government.

We will also be seeking to discuss further the Government’s recommendation that all herbalists join the Professional Standards Authority. Page 3 of the letter (see http://riverfrontmedia.co.uk/EHTPA/Letter%20from%20members%20of%20the%20Herbal%20Working%20Group%20to%20Minister.docx) from dissenting members of the Department of Health Working Group clearly lays out the drawbacks of this proposed new system of voluntary registration that in no way measures up to the benefits of bone-fide statutory regulation of our sector originally promised in 2011.

The Government makes it clear that there will be a review of the use of potent herbal medicines laid down in Schedule 20 of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012. We will be actively engaged in any such review ensuring that we continue to have the widest possible access to our herbal medicines.

This is a preliminary response to that of the Government on the Walker Report. We will be reporting back the results of further discussion with the Department of Health and the MHRA. We continue to work to achieve the best deal possible for our patients and the future delivery of herbal medicine by practitioners.

Response from the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association to Charity Commission's Consultation "The use and promotion of complementary and alternative medicine" - 17th May 2017

Click here to view the response document

Statement from the EHTPA regarding the Professional Standards Authority - 17th May 2017

Click here to view the statement document
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