WHO Releases Guidelines For Medicinal Plants
Published April 1, 2004
On February 10th, the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland, released guidelines for good agricultural and collection practices for medicinal plants. The guidelines are intended for national governments to ensure production of herbal medicines is of good quality, safe and sustainable and poses no threat to either people or the environment. With regard to patient safety issues, WHO said, “Reports of patients experiencing negative health consequences caused by the use of herbal medicines are on the rise. One of the major causes of adverse events is directly linked to the poor quality of herbal medicines, including raw medicinal plant materials, and to the wrong identification of plant species. Cultivating, collecting and classifying plants correctly are therefore of the utmost importance for the quality and safety of products.” In addition to patient safety issues, WHO said there is a risk that a growing herbal market and its great commercial benefit might pose a threat to biodiversity through over harvesting of the raw materials for herbal medicines and other natural healthcare products. If not controlled, according to the organization, these practices may lead to the extinction of endangered species and the destruction of natural habitats and resources.