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Our herbs are safe

October 9 2009 at 12:03 PM
from IP address

They can't take away our herbs, to do that they would have to blitz the whole country with pesticide. Herbs grow freely in the wild as well as in the garden. They may be able to stop us buying manufactured medicines containing herbs, but they can't stop us making out own tinctures and creams.

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Re: Our herbs are safe

October 9 2009, 1:03 PM 

Thanks for pointing this out, Ann.

If we are looking to use local sustainable produce for both our food and medicine, then yes, we must be looking at growing our own and wildcrafting and purchasing locally. Obviously there will be exceptions (I'm thinking here of my own use of saw palmetto which only grows in Florida)but that's the only one for me. Other people will have to make decisions about their own use.



Re: Our herbs are safe

October 9 2009, 3:25 PM 

I take your point Ann and agree in part - as long as the plants continue to grow so the medicine will be available. However, they can stop you making tincture - I believe it is currently illegal in France - or any other type of processing for that matter. That may not necessarily stop you but it would criminalise you. That's not a situation I would like to see. If you don't want to see this happen either then make your views known.

Re: Our herbs are safe

October 10 2009, 9:47 AM 

Hello Ann,
If statutory regulation doesn't go ahead, we believe that it will be only a short time before the 1968 Medicines Act,under which medical herbalists work, will be repealed. Already a number of herbs which I have used regularly for my patients ,including in the dried format, have been removed from sale. Kava kava,for one.

If medical herbalists are not allowed to practice, then who do people turn to? There is a time for self help remedies which can be obtained from the garden,but how many people either have the knowledge of what to use or even have a garden or are able to wild craft plants. Many times I have suggested to a patient who rings me with a minor complaint, a common herb that I think they may have in their garden,which will be of help, to be told that they don't have it or wouldn't recognise it. I'm talking about herbs such as sage,lemon balm,fennel etc.

Diagnosis is another important issue.

I apologise if I have adopted a rather fiesty attitude to your posting,but I am really, really worried that the complacent attitude of, "well I've got my personal herb supply, so i don't neeed to worry about this matter " could be our very undoing. I'm alright Jack is not the basis for herbal medicine.

If I had my way, herbal knowledge would be on the schol curiculem,alongside gardening. Even better we should learn it at our mothers knees. And everyone should have a plot of land that they can grow their food and medicine on.

If you have decided that you have no need to respond to the consultation document because of your personal circumstances, then I appeal to you to think and therefore act on behalf of all the others who do not have your good fortune.



Re: Our herbs are safe

October 12 2009, 4:34 AM 

Can you not even make tinctures for your own use in France? What about liqueurs? Or steeping herbs in wine?

Re: Our herbs are safe

October 12 2009, 9:24 AM 

Hi Kate

The information I have about France appears to indicate that the issue is tinctures for sale. If you try to sell tinctures at Farmers Markets or other such low key events, you will be informed upon by locals and prosecuted. In this case, it's the pharmacists who are anti. You can sell dried herbs.

I am wondering what would happen if you didn't sell, but gave things away and people, responding to the kindness of your gift just happened to give you in return a pound of potatoes and a cabbage, or an hour's babysitting.

I know people have been prosecuted for selling items using imperial rather than metric measures, for selling unpasteurised cheeses and vegetables not sanctioned by the European Parliament. I'm also unclear whether you would be prosecuted for giving people advice which eventually caused them harm - I suspect there would be a large element of personal decision making regarding acting upon the advice given.

In all my years of dealing with clinical negligence, I've not come across a neighbour or a friend being prosecuted for advice under civil law. It would have to come under criminal law if you gave them a bottle of rhubarb wine made from leaves rather than stems and they died as a result.

I think everyone will have to consider their personal disclaimers quite carefully.

herbs for all...

October 12 2009, 1:44 PM 

Lets get all kids learning about herbs and health...
In my case, opting out of being pro-regulation is not 'not thinking about the bigger picture' it's just not wanting to be forced into state regulation because of the threat of loosing our herbs. That isn't a choice!

I posted my opinions on the other thread before I read this one. From what I understand we aren't technically 'allowed' to sell a tincture on a market stall in this country if we lay any claim to what it might be good for. Already the infomation is kept from the public and it stands to be further marginalised with regulation. This is my worry.

I practice as a witch, that is what me and Karen have become known as 'the wicthes'...we make as many of our own remedies as we can already and intend to carry on that way from a herbal centre on a bit of land where every body can learn and have access to teaching about herbs and their magic.

Big love,
fi x

Re: Our herbs are safe

October 12 2009, 7:00 PM 

Linda raises two interesting and seemingly connected points, firstly who do people turn to when herbalists are banned and secondly the woeful ignorance of the modern generation of parents.

For hundreds of years the rural sick were looked after quite adequately by empiricists frequently burnt as witches for competing against the mumbo-jumbo of university trained theoreticians on the one hand and the church with its God-cures-all teaching on the other. (I wrote this message, before reading Fiona's posting, good to know we are thinking along the same lines)

These days however, the younger generation of witches, whilst laudably enthusiastic, really hasnt got much clue and it seems a good idea to train them up in the skills of their spiritual ancestors. This would give us a second line of defence, particularly as they are used to operating behind the scenes. Unfortunately the way things are going in America, where the mentally-challenged 'fundies' as the witches call them, have already banned Harry Potter, it looks as though rather than training the witches to make up for the deficiencies of the allopathic practitioners, attempts will again be made to render them extinct.

As for France, the problem there is the bureaucracy, my daughter is a fully qualified English mental nurse as well as an aromatherapist but she has just been told that all she will be permitted to do across the channel is to become a nursing assistant after a further six months training. Given that French medical practice isnt all that it is cracked up to be, it seems that things are no better there than here.

It may not be coincidence then that my stock of belladonna comes from a plant conveniently growing under my ex-wifes kitchen window. Obviously if you are in pain and living in a remote area, a facility for self-treatment is desirable, though it is even more desirable to know what one is doing. Clearly her predecessors on the farm did but there too the skills of past generations are being lost, a process deliberately hastened by French government policy. However I am not sure of the extent to which this is domestically driven and how much to do with EU legislation. Either way a re-education programme for the lay population across the whole of industrialised Europe is surely important. It is interesting that Kew has a programme, frequently reported in Herbs aimed at reversing this loss of knowledge, but there isnt much point in having the knowledge stored in the RBG computer if it isnt accessible to potential users. Of course I would never be so cynical as to suggest that it is for the benefit of the pharmaceutical companies who would love to find some nice new herbal properties to patent and who probably funded the programme in the first place

Re: Our herbs are safe

October 13 2009, 6:26 PM 

NB: This is my personal view speaking as a member of the public and not a trustee of the Herb Society. Nor is it the view of the Society.

I'm a big fan of the science fiction genre and have seen in my life thus far, things predicted in the science fiction in the past becoming fact in the future. Saying that 'our herbs are safe' is true to a point, wild herbs and flowers are coming back into our fields and hedgerows, but not so long ago fields and hedgerows were sprayed and all the 'weeds' getting in the way of the crops were blasted to oblivion with chemicals, those same weeds were the things people used as remedies. Can we be confident enough to think something like that won't happen again?
Or how soon until commercially sold herbs have all their therapeutic properties genetically removed, so the plants we buy commercially won't have the medicinal effect they do now? And what about the townies that don't have access to fields and hedgerows or even gardens, where do they get there wild herbs to make their tinctures and creams?

In my experience where governments are concerned I've learned that NOTHING is safe, unions, transport system, health system etc, and that which you believe to be safe can be taken away almost overnight. Talking to people that aren't herb savvy about this issue I keep hearing "GP's are regulated, if herbalists were to the same level then we'd know they were safe", it's a sad fact that amongst those that don't know differently, and those that listen to the Anti-herbalism arguments, that herbal medicine and its practitioners are not valued and are not trusted, only herbally inclined people trust herbal medicine. Sadly many non herb people have also expressed the view "Doesn't matter to me what happens, I go to the doctors when I'm sick, I don't believe that herbs can be better for me than my GP. As long as the GP is still there it doesn't matter to me".

"Ohhh a herbalist.. Isn't that a little old lady that makes ointments from strange ingredients and ghastly tonics that don't work" is another view I've been presented with, much to my shock and horror, a classic stereotype that is wrong, and in my humble opinion needs correcting. Herbalist consulting rooms do not look like a scene from Macbeth, at least none that I've visited, nor is it a little old lady with a copy of 'Toads & Newts Monthly' on the desk, administering the medicine.

When asked why people don't go to see a herbalist when ill, I've been given the response "Because its free to see my GP, I have to pay to go see a herbalist, and the medicine isn't as good" on more than one occasion. I know a handful of people that give of their herbal knowledge for free and with passion and enthusiasm, they spend almost every spare moment spreading the word about the benefits of herbs, giving their time freely.
Most herbalists tend to keep themselves to themselves and don't share their skills or knowledge because it's their bread and butter, a point I made to a chap from the CPP this weekend. His response was that it was something that he'd have to try and work to change. And before all the 'good' skill sharing herbalists start shouting at me, I know there are some that do, but the majority don't.

It's already looking like the pharmaceutical companies are calling the shots with this debate. With regulation, in my opinion, herbalists will still have some form of legal footing, until that is, the governments and their 'supporters' find another way to further erode the profession. What will happen if regulation doesn't get put in place? It may be nothing and things may continue as they are now, but it could be the tip of the iceberg and things will continue to erode, until there will be no future generations of herbalists because there will be no courses to teach them and the empirical knowledge that comes from way back having all but died now, will cease to be. Slowly and surely the Government and big business will hack away at herbal medicine until your only herbal option will be to DIY, great if you have the knowledge, not so good if you're a member of the public in the future seeking an alternative form of healthcare.

The majority of the public goes to a GP rather than a herbalist because GP's are regulated and endorsed and thus seen to be legitimate, these same people had grandparents and great grandparents that knew of herbal remedies that had been passed on to them from their ancestors, but ask them now and they can't remember a thing, that tradition is dead and gone, so who is doing things to put those traditions back in place?  

Using herbs was once a common thing passed on from one generation to the next, then after WWII when the NHS surfaced, the traditions and knowledge began to die out. The herbalist shops that were once in every high street disappeared (only a handful still exist in the UK today) and chemist shops appeared in their place, ironically chemist shops are now disappearing from the high street as larger supermarkets now place pharmacies in stores to supply prescriptions and over the counter drugs. Tradition is constantly replaced by technology, and with that tradition goes knowledge and a sense of community. For some unknown reason people put their faith in a GP and believe that's the best course of action when ill, I'm not saying that it isn't, but it's about time that the alternatives were given more credibility and accessibility to the public at large.

I hate to make sweeping generalisations, but the general public don't trust herbal remedies because 'Big Science' has brainwashed them to believe anything without scientific proof is bad, empirical knowledge and the fact that 'x' has cured 'y' for countless generations doesn't matter anymore. You have to have proof, you have to pay to prove what you're saying and if you can't prove it, then Big Science says it isn't true. Joe & Joanne Public want pretty pi-charts, colourful bar graphs full of average statistics and percentage data, then they'll believe it's true and it works.

On the one hand herbal medicine saves the NHS money, but on the other herbalists don't have nice fat corporations that give nice juicy kickbacks, not that I'm saying the pharmaceutical companies do that you understand. There may be more people who want to keep herbal medicine for the people, but they'll be far outweighed by the $ & £'s that a handful of companies will throw at the argument to turn the tide in their favour. I'm a cynic, I honestly think it doesn't matter which way people vote, the decision has already been made and the number of yes and no's will be presented as hidden statistics and percentages of the outcome that the Government wants. '95% of the people who voted that yes their head went purple and their brains exploded when trying to understand the Government form for regulating or not regulating herbalists', will translate as '95% say yes to not regulating herbalists', it'll be in the data and it'll be a fact. Our herbs may be safe for now, but the house of cards that is herbal medicine is about to come falling down like humpty dumpty, and I'm not sure it'll ever get put back together again.

Debs happy.gif

sharing knowledge

October 13 2009, 6:53 PM 

Hello Debs,

Your point -

Most herbalists tend to keep themselves to themselves and don't share their skills or knowledge because it's their bread and butter, a point I made to a chap from the CPP this weekend. His response was that it was something that he'd have to try and work to change. And before all the 'good' skill sharing herbalists start shouting at me, I know there are some that do, but the majority don't.

We need to share our knowledge -and in my experience(I probably know the handful of herbalists that free do share all of their knowledge)we do -at university I wsa lectured about this exact point -that we should closely guard al our knowledge because it cost us much time effort and money to gain it and Fiona and I argued against this point.

The majority of folk I speak to have no faith what so ever in Doctors and they go to the GP simply because it is free medicine.

Positively I and others will continue to share our knowledge and beliefs and get people to reconnect with the earth.

love Karen

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