The EHTPA was founded in 1993 when it became clear that with the development of the European Union, the legislative framework under which herbal medicine was practised in the UK and Europe was likely to undergo radical change. The main professional herbal practitioner associations in the UK affiliated with Irish and Danish herbal associations to form the European Herbal & Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (EHTPA).
In late 1994, the basis of herbal practice in the UK was threatened by the sudden announcement by the Medicines Control Agency (now the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency - MHRA) that existing European medicines legislation had swept away all those statutes in the Medicines Act 1968 that gave British herbal practitioners their legal right to obtain herbal medicines. The EHTPA found itself thrown headlong into the campaign to rescue the right of UK practitioners to obtain herbal medicines without the need for full medicines licences. This highly successful campaign did much to create firm bonds between its member organisations.
In 1990, the EHTPA worked with Irish colleagues to help get the ban on the use of St John’s wort and other herbs overturned so that practitioners could continue using their use.
The EHTPA comprises some eight professional herbal/traditional medicine associations with a membership of around 1500 professional practitioners working across the UK. Member associations represent practitioners in western herbal medicine (phytotherapy), Chinese herbal medicine, Ayurveda, Unani Tibb and traditional Tibetan medicine. The EHTPA works closely with other national herbal organisations throughout the EU and has engaged with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in setting standards for herbal medicine on a worldwide basis.
Today our work focuses on the development of standards of training and education, accreditation of training institutions, strengthening the identity of the profession and working closely with key stakeholders on specific projects. For example, we are a key stakeholder, working closely with the Department of Health, in developing the path towards statutory regulation of herbal practitioners in the UK. We work with the MHRA on reviewing the standards of safety and quality of unlicensed herbal remedies and with the rest of the herbal sector on implementing the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD).
The EHTPA has been active in negotiations with the EU Commission regarding the implementation of the Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products and with the Herbal Medicinal Products Committee within the European Medicines Agency. The EHTPA also gave evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology that published a report in 2000 calling for the immediate statutory regulation of herbalists in the UK. The EHTPA was a stakeholder and played a lead role in the production of the Report to Ministers from The Department of Health Steering Group on the Statutory Regulation of Practitioners of Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Other Traditional Medicine Systems Practised in the UK in May 2008.
The EHTPA has played a lead role in agreeing professional standards of training and conduct adopted by professional herbal/ traditional medicine associations in the UK. This has lead to the agreement of a Common Core Curriculum and the running of the EHTPA Accreditation Board which operates under an independent chair. The EHTPA works within the Herbal Forum – a UK based organisation that is negotiating with the MHRA on the full implementation of the THMPD.
The EHTPA is dedicated to promoting access to best herbal practice and the benefit of herbal medicine as well as ensuring the continuing availability of medicinal herbs in the UK and Europe.