(2001; 96 pages) [French] [Spanish]
4.4 Traditional and herbal medicines
In many countries, traditional medicine continues to be widely practised and its place in health care should be considered in the broader development of health policy. When developing a national drug policy, countries may wish to include traditional and herbal medicines within its scope. When introducing traditional and herbal medicines into organized health care, countries should:
• identify the health conditions that can be treated with traditional and herbal medicines;
• develop an appropriate methodology and technology for the identification, development and production of traditional and herbal medicines;19-22
• undertake studies to evaluate the quality and safety of traditional and herbal medicines, and evidence of their efficacy;23
• encourage patients, physicians, pharmacists and other health workers to be alert to adverse reactions and to notify them where possible.
Traditional and herbal medicines are usually known by local names, which often vary from country to country. There are several national and regional pharmacopoeias that include monographs on medicinal plant materials and herbal medicines.
However, there is no well-recognized convention regarding nomenclature, except official names for medicinal plant materials based on the legitimate Latin binominal name of the plant of origin (genus, species, authority and family). A series of WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants provide some information on this.24
A committee including traditional health practitioners and healers, and experts in pharmacognosy, toxicology and related fields should establish the criteria for selection of traditional and herbal medicines for health care systems. Use of he WHO guidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines is recommended.23 The drug regulatory authority should consider developing regulatory measures on traditional and herbal medicines.25