Is Europe really going to ban hundreds of herbal remedies?

I awoke to the news that OBL has been killed. It’s hard to concentrate on anything but the news today, especially since I’m really worried about possible reprisal attacks…Oh, how I hope I’m wrong!

But concentrate on an entirely different issue I must and will. Today, you see, may mark the beginning of a difficult period for those who buy their supplements in Europe. I am talking about the 2004/24/EC directive…the European Union directive that may ban, as my post title states, hundreds of herbal remedies…

I have actually known for quite some time about this ban…But I haven’t reported on it until now, mainly because the news is conflicting and confusing. In fact, to be super honest, after reading quite a lot about it in the past few days, I am still not sure WHAT exactly this ban is going to mean for the individual herbal extracts that many of us take.

So that is my first reason for writing this post: I hope to be illuminated” by some of you who understand/know about this issue more than I do…Thanks in advance! 🙂

My second reason is that I read that ashwagandha risks being banned. Whaaat??? Ashwagandhaaaaa? Why, if true, that would be absolutely ridiculous! On what grounds?

The same may also happen to boswellia, which is in my medicine cabinet right now, waiting for its turn to be tested, AND Scutellaria baicalensis (or Baikal skullcap), which I tried a few years ago…All these herbs have anti-MM effects…

My biggest fear: what is going to happen to curcumin? Thus far, I have not seen curcumin mentioned at all, which I hope is a good sign…

Before going on, let me state that I am always in favor of regulating stuff. I am verrrrrrry strongly opposed to the existence of snake oil sellers/practitioners/websites and so on. Yuck. I mean, if you really want to infuriate me, just direct me to one of those so-called “alternative” websites claiming that cancer can be cured with this or that “natural, non-toxic buy-it-right-here” substance (grrrr!!!). 👿 Hogwash!!!

AND I also agree, again very strongly, that herbal products should be checked for heavy metals, pesticides and other types of toxic craparola. I take/test these extracts myself, therefore obviously I don’t want to be swallowing something toxic…Concerning this last point, I would like to mention that serious, responsible herbal-selling companies already perform their own safety tests, and have very high standards. Perfect example: the Sabinsa Corporation, which makes C3 Complex curcumin and bioperine, has been awarded the Good Manufacturing Practice, or GMP, certification. Let’s also not forget that we have Consumer Lab and its periodic checks of supplements etc…

The directive was supposed to go into effect yesterday….so this morning, out of curiosity, I checked some UK websites and can confirm that they are still selling ashwagandha and curcumin. Hmmm. Well, all this hoopla brings me to an obvious question: since I buy almost all of my supplements in the U.S. and bring them back to Italy packed inside my suitcase, what is this directive going to mean for me? Am I going to get into trouble when I go through customs? Will I need to obtain a letter from my hematologist stating that I need to take these supplements? You can see why I have been postponing the writing of this post…Che confusione!!!

Oh, I just realized that I haven’t yet given you any links. Let’s see. For the brave folks among you, here is the text of the European directive, which turned my brain into porridge after I read the first paragraph: or (same thing, different format). As I mentioned, I didn’t find this text very helpful…too generic blablabla. Sigh. So I looked around for some reliable summaries and found a few interesting links, as follows:

According to a list of “frequently asked questions” compiled by the strongest opponents to this directive, = the Alliance for International Health or ANH-Intl, Italy will not adopt the directive to the letter of the law. Phew! This is not true, however, of other countries–the UK, Belgium, Germany and Sweden: 

ANH-Intl also provides a list of substances that apparently are at risk of being banned: On the right-hand you will see the name of the Western herbs, which are perhaps more recognizable for us. Speaking of which, I don’t know about you, but I recognized only a few of the items on this list…bromelain, witch hazel, thyme. Speaking of bromelain, I guess my quercetin capsules are illegal now, since they contain some…Mamma mia

On Wikipedia you can find a decent, easy-to-read summary of the directive…again, it’s a bit generic, but I suppose it is hard to be specific right now: 

A couple of newspaper articles. Herald Scotland: and The Independent: 

Confused…AND concerned…


  1. … it will end like during the prohibition with uncontrolled black marked, then we really dont know if we get good or bad stuff – dont look like these people really know what they are dealing with, but they are probably paid by the pharmaceutical industry to do what they do 🙁
    Did you find any organizations protesting against the new band on these herbs? Might be good with some support from all of us “Margeret followers” 😉
    / Henrik

  2. What the law means is any herbal remedies that do not have evidence of safety behind them will no longer allowed to be sold as medicinal products.

    The herbal companies that do safety tests are absolutely save. It is only the remedies that have not been tested for safety that will be taken off the market until they are tested.

    Retailers are allowed to continuing selling any products they have on their selves right now (Until they reach their expiry date)

    Also this only effects remedies that are sold as drugs. It does not effect food supplements.

    For an easy to read piece I recommend checking out the irishtimes.

    or SBM

    I noticed on a handful of cooking blogs people are worried the herbs/flowers will be banned. They won’t. It’s purely the stuff sold like drugs.

    It’ll vary a bit per country how difficult it is to register. Ireland is pretty lax when it comes to alternative medicines. The Irish Medicines Board tends to have an Ah-it’ll-be-grand attitude.

  3. In Tuscan there is a public service of phytotherapy
    (c/o S. Giuseppe Hospital, Usl 11, Empoli)
    and probably they know what this law means…

  4. Ahhh, the number of petitions I’ve signed in health shops and postcards to whomever it concerned at the time that I have set over the past years. It started with Kava Kava and you have to wonder is it really just about safety or that big drug companies miss out on the money.

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