There is no evidence to suggest herbal medicines "tailored" to the individual work, and they may even do serious damage, according to a study.
Scientists writing in the Postgraduate Medical Journal examined what they said were the only three clinical trials to have been conducted on the treatments.
They expressed doubts as to the skills of those in the UK who offer treatments specially formulated for individuals. But UK herbal practitioners said such treatments can make a real difference. The UK is currently reviewing the law in relation to the regulation of this field, so at present it is unclear how many such practitioners there are in the country.
Drawing on Chinese and European traditions among others, the practitioners offer a wide variety of treatments for conditions ranging from minor skin ailments to cancer, using a multitude of herbs.
The team from the Peninsula Medical School, a partnership between Exeter and Plymouth universities and the NHS in Devon and Cornwall, stressed that there were many herbs with health benefits, but that studies on these tended to involve standard preparations or single herb extracts.
They said they searched widely for randomised clinical trials of tailored treatments across the world in any language and contacted 15 professional bodies in the process, but were only able to find three trials.
One compared a tailored Chinese herbal preparation with a standard herbal preparation and a placebo for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Source - BBC