The Government's broken promise on Statutory Regulation for Medical Herbalists

February 2013

In 2010 over 11,000 people told a government consultation that they wanted herbalists to be regulated. That they wanted to save their right to access herbal medicines. 

Where are we now?

In February 2011, the Secretary of State for Health announced that UK herbalists were to be statutorily regulated. He promised that, subject to the usual procedures, the Department of Health would have this ready by early Autumn 2012. 

Six months later, it hasn't happened and no one seems able to say when it will happen!

Statutory Regulation is urgently needed to preserve your access to herbal medicine. In 30 April 2011, the law about over the counter medicines changed and all herbal medicines are now supposed to have a THR licence. You'll have noticed that here at Napiers we can't sell you some of our 150 year old formulas any more. But we have gone a long way down the road of getting THR licences - making huge personal sacrifices to do so - because we passionately believe that you have a right to the medical treatment of your choice. 


Alongside the THR licensing law, Section 12 of the old Medicines Act was abolished. In short, this technically means that it is currently illegal for your herbalist to prescribe you a herbal medicine from their dispensary unless it has one of the few THR licences - wiping out your access to around 200 medicinal herbs.

Statutory Regulation will allow trained herbalists to continue to practice. They will be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council which regulates dentists, dieticians and physiotherapists. Only qualified herbalists will be allowed to call themselves herbalists - surely this is in the public interest?

Since then, the MHRA has let herbalists practice, assuming that Statutory Regulation was going to happen. Two years later the Department of Health has failed to publish the draft legislation and there is no sign of progress. The fear is that with many other priorities the DoH is just going to let the issue drop. 


For herbal medicine practitioners and their patients this is disastrous.

  • Herbalists have lost the right to prescribe hundreds of commonly used herbal medicines so you may not be able to get the medicines you need 
  • You have lost access to a wide range of herbal medicines available from herbalists for hundreds of years
  • Your alternative choice of medical treatment could be lost forever
  • Without regulation you are at risk from unqualified practitioners and substandard herbal medicines.
  • For some people, especially those who experience adverse reactions to chemical drugs, this will cause misery and potential harm
  • In short, statutory regulation is clearly in your interest! 

Please write, email or contact your MP as soon as possible and say that “ the only arrangement that meets my needs is for the Coalition Government to honour its promise and complete the Statutory Regulation of herbalists.” 

When you write to your MP, please also add your own personal reason for supporting Statutory Regulation (e.g. “I use herbal medicine” or “I find herbal medicine effective to treat many ailments”). In this way you personalise your reply and ensure it has maximum impact. 

In 2011, the Secretary of State declared that the decision to implement the statutory regulation of herbal practitioners marked ‘a significant milestone’. Please don’t delay – write in support of Statutory Regulation and make the Government honour its promise.

If you care about herbal medicine, please do not miss the opportunity to support this ancient and priceless healing system. 

Thank you very much for doing this. 


Click on this link and enter your postcode to get your MP's details.

Remember that even if you just drop them an email, they have to reply!


Duncan Napier founded Napiers on 25th May 1860 " to provide an affordable choice of natural medicine for all people." Although we have moved on from leeches and mercury poisoning, there is still the need for herbal medicines.

Don't delay, write today!