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EU directives – regulation or strangulation

Most people who use natural health products must now be aware of the likely impact of EU regulations. Of immediate concern is the Food Supplements Directive.


he Food Supplements Directive is technically already in force, but a pronouncement on the dosage levels of vitamin and mineral supplements has been awaited for about a year now.

Another directive on herbal medicines will come into force in about a year’s time. The effect of both of these directives will be to

much reduce the variety of choice in supplements and remedies currently available in the UK, and the range of companies involved. It is frustrating that products that have been used apparently perfectly safely for improving and maintaining health may no longer be obtainable. It is worth, however, looking at the context of the regulation that is being introduced. The whole idea is to create a

Europe-wide market in which free trade in products is universal. The problem is that all the countries have until now had their own regulations for what may be on sale and where it may be sold. The EU Directives are about

creating a level playing field across the continent. The main problem as far as the UK is concerned is that two of the biggest countries, France and Germany, have had quite different approaches to the sale of natural health products.

France, for example, has

St John’s Wort, still prescribed by orthodox medical doctors in Germany for various conditions

probably double the number of pharmacies per head of the population. Every other pharmacy appears to stock homoeopathic remedies, and there are big displays of herbal remedies. Also, pharmacists there are educated differently from British pharmacists. For example, you can pick mushrooms and take them to a pharmacy for identification. In Germany, orthodox medical doctors still make use of herbal medicines. For example they will prescribe St John’s wort for mild to moderate depression, gingko for circulatory problems or saw

Saw palmetto used for prostate conditions

palmetto for prostate conditions. The continental legal approach which seems to be the opposite of “innocent until proven guilty” also affects the situation.

Whether or not you have already done so, do write to your MP and MEP, if you are concerned about maintaining your choice to use all the products you would like.

For further information, contact: Consumers for Health Choice 2, Oaklands Close, Chulmleigh, Devon EX18 7AU. Tel: 01769 581612 or The Alliance of Natural Health, The Atrium, Curtis Road, Dorking, RH4 1XA (Tel: 01306 646600).

There may still be time, too, to join in a postcard campaign about the Supplements Directive. Postcards are obtainable from Healthright.

Chesham’s Specialist Health Store

Brita Water Filter Cartridges 4 for the price of 3 Classic £12 Maxtra £13.25

27 High Street Chesham Bucks HP5 1BG. Tel: 01494 771267 •

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