Welcome to a new sector of the BHMA, the Herbal Practitioners Suppliers Section (HPSS)

The supply of goods to herbal practitioners is probably the least regulated of all the herbal sectors; even the legal status of the goods being supplied is poorly defined and vulnerable. It is now clear that the government is not considering the statutory regulation of herbal practitioners at this time. To address potential issues with quality and safety, the whole sector, in particular herbal practitioners and herbal suppliers, needs to work together to provide a service that both professionals and the public can trust.

The BHMA, with its established links to independent academia and health professions, is the best platform from which the herbal practitioner supplier sector can organise, grow and defend itself. Towards these ends the BHMA has set up the Health Practitioners Suppliers Section (HPSS) to bring together a large number of the UK practitioner herbal suppliers from the Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal medicine traditions for the first time. At the current time, the following organisations are members of the HPSS:

Avicenna Centre

MediHerb (Integria, Australia)

The HPSS’s initial role is to help these practitioner suppliers to maintain standards of quality within the sector by the adoption of a common Quality Management System (QMS) which is envisaged to ultimately lead to a common standard of independently audited Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). Such a system will ensure that practitioners receive good quality products, thus ensuring patient safety.

The HPSS will also lead on practitioner education, as practitioner awareness of quality issues will be the main driver of future sector growth. However, at the current time many herbal practitioners are not able to easily assess the quality criteria of the remedies they dispense. The continued education of practitioners in areas such as pharmacognosy and analysis is therefore deemed essential to drive quality in the sector. Towards this end the HPSS will be working with practitioner Professional Associations (PAs) and academia to set up suitable revision and education courses.

The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine’s ‘Approved Suppliers Scheme’ provides a model for the HPSS to work towards, developing it from a section to a full-blown scheme. In the absence of statutory regulation assurance it will only be possible with coordinated action from the practitioner Professional Associations to support their members with the use of products from approved suppliers. The BHMA will work with the EHTPA towards a Scheme once suppliers have signed up to agreed common standards.