Unhappy Herbalist

It would seem that some herbalists are not happy about the EU’s Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD). This is the directive that requires all herbal remedies sold over the counter to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and that some herbal remedies only be available on prescription from practitioners meeting strict guidelines. Since herbal remedies are being sold as medicine, and (unlike homeopathy) do have a pharmecological effect on the body, who can possibly object to that?

Sebastian Pole, co-founder of Pukka Herbs, can it would appear. I should point out that Pukka Herbs is going through the process of registering for the THMPD but the METRO carried his criticisms on Monday 18 April so I thought it would be worthwhile examining them. He says:

This new directive is going to drastically reduce consumer choice without really adding to any of the intended safety benefits.”

If anything, it is going to increase choice. At the moment, doctors are not allowed to prescribe herbal remedies as they have not been tested for safety and efficacy. If you do not want to take a Big Pharma product and would prefer a herbal remedy you are on your own. You have to describe your ailment to an unregistered herbalist and hope that they know what they are doing. This has not always been the case. This directive will change that.

It’s full of inconsistancies, discriminates against ethnic populations, limits innovation, ignores sustainable herb resources and the livelihood of herb growers, and is prohibitively expensive

He does not say what the inconsistancies are or how it ignores sustainable herb resources. As for the claim that it “discriminates against ethnic populations”, oh please! This is not a 1980s oppositionist gathering; you cannot win an argument by making unsubstantiated accusations of racism.

He elaborates on this a little further on by saying:

…because many Chinese and Ayurvedic remedies are multi-ingredient formulas, and the cost is exponentially linked to the number of ingredients in a product, the legislation is biased against such traditions.

Actually, it is close to linearly linked; test each ingredient and test the marketted combination. But talk of an ‘expontial’ increase in costs sounds scary; we’re into baffling with bullshit territory here

The claim that the Directive limits innovation is an interesting one. “Traditional” remedies are not innovative. The clue is in the name. If Pole means it limits new herbs, or new combinations of herbs, being put onto the market without being tested for their effects on people, frankly I see nothing wrong with that. MHRA regulations similarly limit such ‘innovation’ by Big Pharma and a good thing too. I do not buy his argument that it is prohibitively expensive either. Each remedy need be tested only once. And frankly, since he is making money selling herbal remedies to people what exactly is wrong with making sure the stuff he sells will cure and not kill them?

He says that “the majority of products on the market are already safe”. A calming spin that actually tells us nothing; 51% is a majority so his claim could be interpreted as saying that 49% are unsafe. I have no idea how many are safe (or effective) and frankly, without testing, neither has Pole. If Big Pharma complained about having to test products before selling them they would be torn apart but as usual the alternative medicine brigade demands a free ride.

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5 Responses to “Unhappy Herbalist”

  1. Alan Henness Says:

    This special pleading is reaching fever pitch as the end of the month approaches.

    One self-interest group, the Alliance for Natural Healthcare International/Europe (who’s tag line is ‘good science & sound law’) have raised £90,000 for an eleventh-hour legal challenge against the eight-year-old Directive. Perhaps their members should be asking why they are just getting round to it now – the Directive came into force 8 years ago and herbals were given an extremely generous 8 year transition period to get their house in order. That transition period ends on 30 April.

    What is also interesting is that the MHRA have only licensed just over 100 herbal products under the THMPD in those 8 years and all of those since 2008. You’d have thought (I know, an argument from personal incredulity!) that they might have been a bit more proactive in getting their products approved.

    The cost of licensing is irrelevant: all they are being asked to do is show that the manufacturers know what’s in the products and to vouch that they have been in use for 30 years, 15 of which must be in the EU.

    Yet let no one be fooled into thinking that any licensed product is safe or efficacious: the safety requirements under the THMPD are laughable compared to the the hoops Big Pharma have to go through to show their latest product is safe. As for evidence of efficacy? None required.

    Look at the latest MHRA public assessment report for Black cohosh:

    The registration is based exclusively upon evidence of the use of Black cohosh root as a traditional herbal remedy and not upon data generated by clinical trials. There is no requirement under the Traditional Herbal Registration Scheme to prove scientifically that the product works.

    Just imagine the uproar if a Big Pharma was allowed to get away with that!

  2. Bob Says:

    Beware of the ‘stifling innovation’ canard; translated, it means I’m too cheap, lazy or stupid to do the right thing. Look at its use throughout history, fighting regulations on high-pressure steam, software liability & business practices.

  3. aqua Says:

    ‘Beware of the ‘stifling innovation’ canard; translated, it means I’m too cheap, lazy or stupid to do the right thing.’

    In the case of Pukka herbs -thats spot on.

    I really like herbs both for culinary and therapeutic purposes, and know a reasonable bit about them.

    I welcome registration if it protects people from dodgy products and manipulative sales like pukka-Their herbs are stale-therefor not theraputic and their prices outrageous- for example A small jar of Ghee[clarified] butter-EIGHT POUNDS! AND its rancid, therefore not only not healthy but actively bad for you!-They promote themselves as purveyors of Ayurvedic medecine -but their herb tea blends are NOT ayurvedic formulas-there are many ‘natural’ companies out there that use similarly exploitative marketing stratergies -quite a few of them owned by pharmaceutical companies, ironically -but in my opinion Sebastian Pole is one of the worst- a right hypocrite.

    Read this from the Urban Dictionary-spooky

    10. pukka 11 up, 47 down

    word used as a alternative name for a ‘gary’ or ‘wide-boy’. basically all losers who wear reebok trainers, drainpipe jeans and a cap, and think they are a bit dodgy. in fact they go out of their way to try and look dodgy. usually they aren’t. in fact usually they are of a middle class background and their real names are sebastian or timothy etc.
    they also try to speak with rough east end accent, but most of the time their voices haven’t broken so they just sound a bit gay, which usually they are.
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pukka&page=2

    hehehehe

  4. anishinabe1 Says:

    Why should nature seek mans approval for the label of “ALTERNATIVE” medicine. Why should nature feel the neccessity to live down to mankinds lack of essential connection to the world around us all. Mankind attacks that which gives life then derides IT as though IT were thee invader causing the problems.
    Up until the elites of the world and particularly people such as Rockefeller Sr. and IG Farben of Germany hooked up in the early 20th century the Allopaths were the quacks attempting to use heavy metals such as mercury to root out medical problems. The snake oil salesman thanks to Rockefeller had rapidly taken control of the medical system and created instead a medical cartel that to this day cannot boast a claim of a single cure for any disease and if you idiots who believe in this system wish to think things such as immunizations have curbed dis-ease you should really look into the numbers and how drastically reduced these “diseases” were by the time the dang things came into existence. Louie the germ warrior came full tilt in his lifetime to realize that he was wrong. Germs are not our enemies an imbalance of the bacteria is our problem and we create that problem so therefore we are our own enemy. Without germs we would not exist. We are a walking talking bacterium.
    And if the people of this world wish to trust those who wish to make a “killing” off “medicine”, medicines that can only make a killing if they can be patented then by all means why dont you leave the rest of us alone who wish to be with that which grants us health and vitality. We ask not for any approval. We ask not for your input. All we ask is that you leave us the F alone while you keep on taking your toxic allopathic drugs that did not even exist until about a hundred years ago.
    If the SYSTEM CONTROLLERS truly wish for your health then why do they sell you toxic synthetics based on natures own real things. If they wish to help then why does the US government to this day claim their is no medicinal benefits from the cannabis family while simultaneously hiding the fact that the patent on the 66 known cannabinoids is held by a government agency and that this is the only know plant to contain these that will feed the human bodys CANNABINOID SYSTEM. Yes folks we have something called the CANNABINOID SYSTEM. Wake up humans. Wake from your matrix’d slumber, come hither, come forth and speak for your race. THE HUMAN RACE. we deserve what we not only allow but more so what we embrace.
    So go on keep believing in those “races for the cures” they will never come—————–NEVER if we are waiting for THEM to financially back and find IT/THEM.
    WE DIE UNTO DIS-EASE BY LYING UNDER DISEASE.
    enjoy people enjoy

  5. anishinabe1 Says:

    Just imagine the uproar if a Big Pharma was allowed to get away with that!

    seriously man. My ONE. whew. Imagine if big pharma got away with…………………………..hmm well killing off well over 100,000 americans a year do to their “medicines”.
    You are either a spook or an idiot possibly both since government hires idiots so they know not what they do when they do it.

    Number one killer in the US is the medical system hands down. Low estimates of 400,000 a year die in this country do to the medical system. We scream genocide when other governments allow such mass death.

    A system of incremental genocide——-bought and paid for by those seeking help————–its brilliant for those lovers of population control and the stacking of those lovely little pieces of paper we call money that are nothing more than little pieces of IOU’s owned solely by a for profit corporation. HMMMM and its thos nasty little herbalists, gays, lesbians, blacks, browns, whites, yellows, tree huggers, constitutionalists, and anyone else who doesnt simply fall in line with the status quo of the newest religion of all and quite possibly the greatest mind bending tool of all———————-science. And I love analytical thinking as much as I love the power and science of the unexplained——ooooohhh—-spirits————-spirituality——–not religion. AGAIN ENJOY THE CONFINES OF YOUR BOXES. You cant enjoy culinary art or herbal art with a business approach to REGULATION.

    CODEX ALIMENTARIUS

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