By Eilish O’Regan
Many popular herbal remedies used for a range of medical conditions — from menopause to migraine — are in danger of being removed from the shelves of health food stores and pharmacies from next month.
An EU directive, which has been signalled for nearly seven years, will come into force on Sunday, requiring these products to have a licence.
Herbal medicines are taken by tens of thousands of people who prefer them to prescribed or over-the-counter drugs.
Herbs in danger of disappearing from the shelves include black cohosh, feverfew, euphrasia/eyebright, hemp nettle, uva ursi complex, valarian, frangula, pau d’arco and berberis.
Some, such as ‘devil’s claw’ and sage, will remain on sale in tablet form.
“The safety record of the herbal remedies on open sale in Ireland for over 40 years has been impeccable — not a single report of any significant adverse effect,” Alliance of Health Food Stores spokeswoman Jill Bell told the Irish Independent.
The Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive of 2004 details a regulatory licensing process for herbal medicines in the EU.
The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) last night confirmed it had so far approved only one herbal product for licence — Atrogel Arnica Gel.
However, it said it was not in a position to comment on any other applications it received until the April 30 deadline had passed.