New EU Herbal Directive Has Come into Effect – Where Are All Our Herbs?

I received an email this morning from Andrew Johnson, a natural health practitioner, spelling out how the latest EU Herbal Directive which came into effect on May 1st affects us in Europe. This prompted me to share the story with you. I don’t claim to be an expert in this field, so if you would like to add any information or amend anything, just leave a comment below. Thanks.

Hundreds of herbs and herbal remedies which have been on offer in our health food shops will no longer available to buy over the counter in Europe when current stocks run out. People wishing to have them will have to get some of them on prescription from registered herbal practitioners. Many herbs will just disappear in a cloud of dust.

The issue is that manufacturers have had to apply for licences for these remedies and many smaller companies are unable to afford to do this and so will have to remove many of these remedies from their catalogues. The likes of cayenne pepper is also considered a food stuff and so can bypass the ruling.  Larger pharmaceutical companies can however jump through these hoops and obtain licences. It seems that Ayurvedic, African and South American remedies will no longer be available. And it looks like traditional Chinese medicine may be completely delisted. A licence can only be obtained if the remedy has been available for at least 30 years.

It may all look somewhat arbitrary, yet it is claimed to be based on protecting the public due to several herbs having been adminstered in a harmful way in recent years.  It is claimed that potential herbal side-effects are a danger to the public and this is an attempt to regulate the whole procedure.

One of these herbs is St. John’s Wort which is an excellent natural anti-depressent for mild depression. It has received so much bad press due to potential side effects including an increased photo-sensitivity.

I’m going to be perfectly honest – I would like to be able to have the choice to both grow ordinary herbs in my back garden and buy others over the counter.

But this brings up a very interesting point. Anything that grows prolifically in nature and is difficult to reproduce in the lab under scientific conditions is a potential threat to the pharmaceutical industry. Because they can’t create a synthetic version and patent it. That means there’s no money in it. As a result, the benefits of the herb itself might be played down or the disadvantages exaggerated.

And you might have noticed that there have been many herbal discoveries over the past years which point to amazing results regarding illnesses that the pharmaceutical industry is pouring huge amounts of money into researching. Many of these herbs are now on the banned list, too.

We might also find that our remedies are packaged in lower dosages (recommended dosages) than we have been used to which means we will have to buy much more than we did before to get the same results. And to those looking for evidence, it will further confirm their ineffectiveness and drive more people to welcoming the synthetic alternatives offered by the pharmaceutical industry.

As with all other things, the moment you take up a stance, a counter-stance is created of equal force. I am pretty sure the herbal ‘black market’ will emerge and those who place great importance on their health will go to any lengths and take risks to procure the remedies they want from America or elsewhere. Unless of course these laws are passed globally. Then it could get very interesting.

There are big changes on the horizon.

Growing marijuana for medicinal purposes in the back of your kitchen is one thing. But would you risk growing milkthistle, too, and having the law coming down on you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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12 Responses to New EU Herbal Directive Has Come into Effect – Where Are All Our Herbs?

  1. Thanks for raising our awareness, Fiona. I’ve heard rumors of this kind of thing coming, but somehow thought it was too extreme to actually happen. Is there a threat of this in the US as well?

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      I definitely think so Maridel, with time. My research has shown that the UK isn’t going to take this sitting down and money has been raised to allow a court inquiry into it. It’s something that affects all of us. I’ll keep you posted.

  2. tilly says:

    I know we’re talking EU here, but the problem’s global of course – so whether we’re officially part of the EU or not, big brother’s gonna getcha ! and where ‘they’ don’t currently have autonomy, watch them muscle in …. or ‘come to the rescue!’ ( yes-i’m still talking herbal, but it’s big picture pharmaceutics ( & co) in general that’s the issue…..) Nature has supplied us with all we need – each country has always had it’s ‘weed’ crop which turns out to offer unbelievable health benefits …. look at dandelions,nettles … 2 obvious examples of mineral & vitamin rich ‘weeds’ that offer many extras to boot – blood /liver cleansing ,lowers blood pressure, stimulates metabolism,improves digestion,production of serotonin….let alone goji berries,quinoa,gotu kola , gingko biloba ( I’m lucky enough to have bought this house, with a 30 ft gingko already! ) & all it’s oxygenating benefits to the brain and dilating, elasticating & strengthening to the capillary arteries,periwinkle ( not eaten – as it’s poisoners-but infused,has many neurological benefits & apparently is even used in the treatment of leukaemia & cancers of the brain…. …. list goes onnnnnnn As you say Fi – are they gonna raid are back gardens !?? they’ve already convinced the masses that weeds are to be ‘killed – dead!!’ ( as opposed to ‘ killed-not quite dead!’? lol that weed killer advert made me laugh! ) I’ll get off my soap box now! lol xx

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Tilly, I agree that this is a global issue. When nature provides something right there under my nose which can cure all sorts of ailments, I would say it is meant to be there.

      Hybrid seeds and Roundup are of particular interest within this context. There is so much that would love to be included in a blog post and be given an airing.

  3. Hi Fiona,

    this makes me really sad, all those EU regulations are ridiculous! My Dad used to work in this field as an attorney representing politics of alternative health practitioners (associations in homeopathy, acupuncture, etc..) in Bonn and Brussels. Back then, he fought for their legal rights and them being covered by insurance.
    While a lot of things have changed positively throughout Europe, he’s seen all those restrictions come. And what’s really ridiculous that it’s especially the green parties blocking natural remedies. ??
    We need to give this a bigger voice, thank you so much for writing about it!

    Franziska San Pedro
    The Abstract Impressionist Artress

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Thanks Franziska. The questions begs…why would anyone try to ban a remedy that grows freely on our planet and offers all sorts of benefits to our health. I can already feel a whole list of blog posts forming in the ether…There is a lot that needs a bigger voice, isn’t there?

  4. Ni Ini says:

    I’d rather ”remain silent” on this one!
    Yet, you are my dear friend and I want you to know that I will meet all your needs in the future. The herbs are allowed in Serbia. Still! 🙂

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Vesna,

      Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. Yes, it’s only a matter of time before the supplies dwindle and no more stocks arrive to fill the shelves again. I will be watching and see what happens.

  5. Judy Szabo says:

    This is RIDICULOUS! I have signed numerous petitions against this and so did hundred thousands of others. But apparently nobody is interested in our opinion. Time to stock seeds. I will be damned if I will let anyone into my back garden. Next will be I will not be allowed to grow my own tomatoes because they are not gene manipulated??? This sounds sheer tyranny to me. The other day my tearduct got inflamed, hurt terribly, two-three dabs with cotton pads dipped in camomile tea made it go away. In the future I will have to dash off to the pharmacy to buy some drops for it for a small fortune? I want out of EU before they totally take control of my life!!!
    Sorry for sounding off but I am soooo mad…

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Thanks for commenting Judy and feel free to express whatever you want in this space. There were very many petitions in circulation. I have no idea what came of any of them. This topic certainly brings up lots of emotions and looks like it will be in discussion for a long time to come.

  6. tilly says:

    I heard about this and other ‘plans’ through out the world, inc. the FDA ‘placing offices’ in various countries to insure that the food stuffs going in to the US meet with their standards……mmmmm ? their pesticides, growth hormones etc..( bee depletion anybody? – thank you we have a pretty healthy population where I live …would like to keep it that way! but I digress..) ….not good…. I use herbs regularly – many are weeds in my back garden! but I have sourced many from reputable sellers on the net – normally small businesses….. this is the Pharmaceutical industry ( & co) doing their job again- dumb us down – keep us ‘ill’ …. pppffff not impressed!

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Thanks for commenting Tilly. Nature provides us with what we need and the EU makes it illegal to sell it. I wonder if they’re going to come round and make regular checks on people’s back gardens to see if they’re growing any of the banned herbs….

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