You'll find a list of all my blog posts in the blog archive.

Distanskurs i örtterapi.

The EU herb laws.

Blog categories: 

I have NO idea where gaia-health gets their information from, but they're dead wrong.

So the rumors have been flying, about herbs being totally forbidden in the EU come 2011, about peppermint being totally forbidden in the EU come 2011, about herbs being prescription-only in the EU come 2011, about herb teaching and books being forbidden in the EU come 2011 ... and most if not all of those rumors come from one source: gaia-health.
(Note, if you cry Wolf! too often, you won't be believed when the wolf actually does appear ... so these folks are actually hurting the real hunt for information. On purpose or not, I don't know.)

Nobody in Finland is worried. Nobody in the UK is worried. There are no headlines about herbs being pulled from the shelves up here next year, no headlines about peppermint (where do they even get these things from?), and certainly no headlines about herbs becoming prescription-only products.

Nevertheless, gaia-health continues to spew forth their over-the top news. I imagine that they get a LOT of new readers (and advertising income) with that strategy.

(As to the German who got hits herbs confiscated by customs: 1) the products were called "parasite mix" and suchlike - that's health claims right there. The FDA is slamming down on them already, quite as hard as the EU authorities are. Nothing to see here ...
Also, German laws are interesting in that they have white-lists of allowed herbs. Most if not all other EU countries have black-lists of restricted herbs.)


The truth is that if you wish to make health claims for your herbs, it will be easier to do so from 2011, if said herbs have been in use for 30 years, of which at least 15 years in the EU.

If you don't wish to make health claims for your herbs, there's nothing to see here. Move on move on.

See, I asked my MEP about it (MEP: Member of the European parliament). Here's what she replied:

A few years ago, the EU ratified laws which simplified the acceptance _as meds_ of such herbs that have been in use for at least 30 years, of which for at least 15 years in the EU. It is possible to include herbs in addition to those within the 30/15 rule in this simplified acceptance; that however is less simple.
The Green MEP group has prepared two brief reports about this law. Report #1 gives the parliament's reaction to the first proposal; report #2 gives the parliament's reaction to the second proposal.

Report 1

Key points in the Commission proposal

The purpose of the Commission proposal is to establish a harmonised legislative framework for traditional herbal medicinal products and to provide a special registration procedure allowing the registration and the marketing of certain traditional herbal medicinal products without requiring particulars and documents on tests and trials on safety and efficacy (for those products on the market for at least 30 years, 15 years of which should have been in the Community).

For reasons of coherence and legibility of the regulatory framework, the specific provisions on traditional herbal medicinal products shall be introduced in the new Community code relating to medicinal products for human use, as contained in Directive 2001/83/EC.

In addition, to ensure a full participation and involvement of experts in the field of herbal medicinal products, a new Committee for Herbal Medicinal Products shall be set up within the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products. One of the Committee's major tasks will be to establish monographs that further harmonise and facilitate registration applications concerning herbal medicine.

Key points in the committee report

The committee adopted the following modifications:

  • limited the directive to herbal medicinal products of pharmacological activity, and excluded food, food supplements and cosmetics from it
  • maintained the 30 years reference for simplified registration, but reduced the Community presence therein to 10 years
  • strengthened mutual recognition
  • put the new committee at equal level with the existing committee for human medicinal products

Report 2

Key points in the Commission proposal

A new Committee for Herbal Medicinal Products shall be set up within the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products to establish monographs that further harmonise and facilitate registration applications concerning herbal medicine.

Key points in Common position

The Council accepted most of the demands of the EP. It reinstated the clause of 15/30 years, but introduced a committee procedure to decide whether traditional herbal medicines that are on Community market for less than 15 years may also make use of the simplified procedure.

Key points in committee second reading

Only two very minor amendments were adopted, which add little if anything to the common position.


So there you are. Nothing fancy. Nothing to get all worked up about. I'm not surprised at all that nobody is worried about this set of laws.

Now go and spread this message as far as you've spread the hyperbole. Thanks.