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   Mar 03

First Chinese herbal cure given official approval for the UK: Plant nicknamed ‘pig pungent weed’ renowned for its treatment of aches and pains

It is the active ingredient in Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief Tablets, which have just been licensed by drug safety watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

Healing power: Sigesbeckia is the active ingredient in a new drug which have just been licensed by safety watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

The tablets are expected to go on sale online within the next month.

Many herbal products have vanished from sale in recent years after a 2004 EU directive banned any medicines that were not licensed from being sold.

The directive also made it more difficult for medicines to get a licence as it demanded they had to have been in use for 30 years, of which at least 15 years had to be in the EU.

Some Western herbal medicines have managed to gain licences in a process costing thousands of pounds to verify their ingredients. But the Phynova tablets are the first traditional Chinese medicine to be approved.

Robert Miller, chief executive of Oxford-based Phynova, said he was ‘extremely proud’, adding: ‘This has come from years of working with our Chinese colleagues.

Helping weed: Sigesbeckia is renowned for its ability to treat aches and pains caused by arthritis

‘Britain can now benefit from having access to high quality, regulated Chinese medicines.’

He also said that the company is planning to apply for a licence for a second traditional Chinese medicine, a cold and flu remedy.

Dr Chris Etheridge, a medical herbalist and adviser to Potter’s Herbals, celebrated the ‘good news’, adding that Sigesbeckia, which is not commonly used in the West, ‘offers an alternative to those who prefer not to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for muscle and joint pain’.

But Michael McIntyre, chairman of the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association, warned that the new product demonstrates the difficulties the EU rules created for supplying herbal products safely to the public.

He said it is ‘almost impossible to satisfy the licensing conditions’.

He added that some people have therefore turned to the internet to buy unlicensed products, but this means they have ‘no idea whether they are safe or effective’.

According to figures from market researchers Ipsos MORI, at least six million Britons have consulted a Western or traditional Chinese herbal practitioner in the last two years.

Source: Daily Mail

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