Following on from the previous post regarding the Herbal Medicine Directive I wanted to talk about some of the herbs that are currently under threat and discuss some of their healing applications. It is important to take the opportunity to talk about them now because once the new legislation kicks in at the end of April what we say about some herbs and how we say it will be restricted! This seems quite ridiculous when there are hundreds of books out there written by experts that clearly indicate the healing applications of these herbs.
Echinacea (Echinacea Asteraceae) is one of the herbs under threat. The costs of licensing this herb is incredibly expensive, which means that some manufacturers are choosing not to apply for a licence which means we will lose one of our favourite herbs! Viridian Nutrition is planning on keeping its Echinacea Root and Leaf capsules, but is discontinuing its Echinacea Throat Spray. Quest Vitamins also appears to have dropped Echinacea from its product list. It is likely that those manufacturers who apply for a licence will at some point increase their prices to try and recoup some of their costs.
So why is Echinacea so threatened by the EU Directive? For a start it is not a native plant to Europe, it is in fact a native of North America. Widely used by the Native American Indians for its healing properties they have recognised for a long time that Echinacea increases the body’s resistance to infection. So how does Echinacea work? It is thought to stimulate the immune response, increasing the production of white blood cells, which in turn helps the body to build up resistance to infection. According to Suzanne Reed-Le Quesne it is one of the most powerful and effective remedies against all kinds of infection.
Hawthorn Berry is another herb under threat under the new directive. Used by the Greeks, Chinese and the Native American Indians it is recognised for its ability to promote good cardiovascular health and improves circulation. Hawthorn Berry should always be used with caution as some of the side effects are extreme including low blood pressure and vomiting. Hawthorn Berry can also interact with other prescriptive medicines. While there are many benefits to using this herb it is understandable that new cautions are being put in place with this particular herb. For more information on the safe use of herbs visit the www.mhra.gov.uk.