Prince Charles is urging government to press on with regulating herbalists to safeguard the public.
His Foundation for Integrated Health charity says without regulation new EU laws will ban most of the trade, forcing patients to use bogus outlets. From 2011 EU legislation will permit only statutorily registered professionals like doctors to prescribe manufactured herbal remedies. The government says it will reach a decision in the new year.
Britons spend about £1.6 billion a year on alternative remedies. There is currently no official system of regulation in the UK, meaning anyone can treat. But there are codes under which practitioners use remedies manufactured to recognisable standards.
The EU Directive that will be implemented from April 2011 will restrict herbal medicines that can be supplied over-the-counter to licensed "traditional" medicines used to treat "mild and self-limiting" conditions - basically meaning nothing worse than a cold.