Herbal medicines banned in Europe from today.
New EU rules come in to force from today banning hundreds of herbal remedies from being sold.
The EU law is designed to protect consumers from the harmful effects of over the counter herbal medicines, which have often never been tested scientifically.
The EU regulations allow only long established and quality controlled medicines to be sold.
To comply with the new law traditional herbal medicinal products must be licensed or prescribed by a registered herbal practitioner. The directive was passed in 2004 in response to rising concern over adverse effects caused by herbal medicines, it is only coming in to law today.
Herbal practitioners say it is impossible for most herbal medicines to meet the licensing requirements for safety and quality, which are intended to be similar to those for pharmaceutical drugs, because of the cost of testing.
According to the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), which represents herbal practitioners, not a single product used in traditional Chinese medicine or ayurvedic medicine has been licensed. In Europe, around 200 products from 27 plant species have been licensed but there are 300 plant species in use in the UK alone.
The ANH estimates the cost of obtaining a licence at between £80,000 and £120,000 per herb. They say this is affordable for single herbal products with big markets, such as echinacea, a remedy for colds and flu, but will drive small producers of medicines containing multiple herbs out of business.