This recent podcast from the BMJ Group looks at the situation of what UK medical doctors know about herbal medicines, and the changing situation in regards to regulation of herbal medicines in the United Kingdom.
Dr Linda Anderson, Principal Pharmaceutical Assessor at the MHRA and Mr Michael McIntyre, Chairman of the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association, discuss the results of a recent survey with the Drug & Therapeutics Bulletin editors. The survey points out the lack of understanding amongst General Medical Practitioners regarding herbal medicines – the results of the survey can be viewed on their website.
Of particular interest to me is the statement that General Medical Practitioners are being pulled in many directions, and whilst a basic understanding of herbal medicine is useful, an understanding and admission of the fact that they are not experts is probably most important. Of course this raises the question of reliable information resources and reliability of expertise, and this leads the interview in the direction of the new UK regulation of herbal practitioners.
Overall a very interesting podcast which, in my opinion, points out the need for herbalists to be regarded as a genuine part of the health care system (and regulated accordingly), and for medical doctors to recognise that they cannot be experts in everything. When it comes to herbal medicines and their clinical application, properly qualified herbalists are the experts.
Now we just need the education standards and regulation to ensure the public and the medical profession can tell a professional herbalist from a “weekend-workshop” charlatan.