By Jennifer Flett
MSPs showed their support outside Scottish Parliament yesterday as members of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, concerned constituents and herbal medicine students gathered for a mass lobby.
Under a new EU directive (THMPD) after April, 2011 the public will only be able to buy licensed herbal remedies, which campaigners say, limits the range of medicine people can acquire, at the same time compromising their safety if they then look online for alternatives and possibly poor quality products.
In an attempt to highlight the need for statutory regulation of traditional medicine practitioners, lobbyists wore period Henry VIII costumes.
Their eye-catching costumes were a new ploy to generate more public and media interest, Keren Brynes MacLean from The Kirkcaldy Herbal Clinic who donned one costume said,
“We’re coming at it from a slightly different angle with the Henry theme, you would never expect Henry VIII to turn up at the Scottish Parliament!”
“The 16th century monarch set up a Herbalists Charter as a starting point of an alternative health care system which is now largely outdated and the period costumes are to put the message across that legislation needs to be modernised”
One herbal medicine student, Alison Baird, from Edinburgh Napier University stated that,
“ At the moment anyone can call themselves herbal medicine practitioners, we need our MSP’s to put more pressure on Government to regulate herbal practitioners and to become integrated into the health care system.
Members of the society believe statutory regulation would allow the public to have the opportunity to access prescription herbs by properly trained practitioners and that without access to a full range of remedies the market will collapse due to a lack of business.
MSPs, came down to speak to campaigners frequently throughout the day to answer constituents’ questions on what government will do for their cause
Shadow Health Secretary, Mary Scanlon explained;
“ I don’t feel that the Save Our Herbs Campaign have communicated effectively with politicians as I don’t know enough about the cause.”
In order to address this problem Scanlon suggested an organised reception with other MSPs.
Campaigner MacLean said of the decision that she thinks they have showed themselves to be, “a cohesive body of professionals, with a lot of public interest.”
The final consultation ran by the Department of Health will be held on the 16th November to find out whether people think traditional medicine practitioners should be regulated, or not.