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Su B Herbs

It’s not going to happen. Without any formal announcement, the issue was quietly dropped by the government just before Christmas. It’s a bitter disappointment to herbalists who have spent years campaigning and planning for it, but in some ways it’s not a surprise.

Statutory state regulation of complementary therapies is an ongoing debate. It was brought in for osteopaths and chiropractors several years ago, and although some would call it a mixed blessing, I don’t think any would want to turn back the clock. Herbalists who oppose it fear that we would lose our autonomy and end up practising only under the guidance of doctors.

Those in favour say that without it, we risk being outlawed, as in some parts of Europe and the States, and that it would give some safeguards to patients about the quality of herbs prescribed and the competence of practitioners. And all of these points have some validity

But it doesn’t matter now, because it is simply not important enough to the government to make a ruling either way. There’s never been a lawsuit against a Western herbalist, and long may it stay that way. We don’t make waves. We just go quietly about our business, supporting our patients in living their lives as well as they can. And for now, that will continue.

So it’s up to you to choose your herbalist wisely, from a reputable school. If you don’t feel you can trust them, don’t work with them. And choose your herbs, too, from good sources; don’t be lured by promises of miracles and superpowers, and think about how things combine. If you’re taking several supplements, make sure they work well together.

And most of all, don’t be afraid to use this precious resource. Plant medicine has always been with us, and it always will be, whatever politicians may say or do. And that’s a huge blessing.

Meet The Author...
Su Bristow
Who Am I?
I studied at the School of Herbal Medicine for four years, and qualified in 1989, becoming a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ( The road to herbal medicine led from my early interest in organic gardening and healthy eating, through the study of social and physical anthropology at Cambridge, where I specialised in medical anthropology. What fascinated me was how people deal with their health problems when they have only the natural resources around them, and their own ingenuity. I went on to learn massage and reflexology, and worked at a residential naturopathic clinic, where I learned about the use of diet and other natural ways of healing. After qualifying as a herbalist, I set up practice in mid-Devon. Since then I have continued to expand my expertise, with counselling skills, first aid, and knowledge of the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine. Besides one-to-one consultation, I have also taught evening classes, students of the Westcountry Massage Association, and various private courses.
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