The government has announced plans to force all providers of unlicensed herbal medicines to register with a regulator.
It comes after several public consultations on how best to police the industry. The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), will ensure practitioners are properly trained and operating a safe business. But some have said the proposals do not go far enough.
From 2011 EU legislation will permit only statutorily registered professionals to prescribe manufactured herbal remedies. It is estimated that Britons spend about £1.6 billion a year on alternative remedies.
The CNHC was launched in 2009. Its main purpose was to hold a voluntary register of complementary therapists such as massage therapists, nutritional therapists and reflexologists. Those providing unlicensed herbal medicines - thought to be around 8,000 practitioners - are not currently covered by the council.
In future, to be accepted on the register those providing unlicensed herbal medicines will have to show they have the right training and experience, abide by a code of conduct and ensure they have insurance in place. Clinics are not judged on whether the therapies they provide are effective.