Laws in Kuwait prohibit traditional medicine providers from practising medicine. However, herbal medicines are not banned. The use of medicinal plants in the official health sector began in 1978. Supplementing a ministerial resolution on the registration of all drugs, a document and guidelines were issued on the safety and quality assurance of herbal medicines. This document describes the main principles that should be observed when registering herbal medicines, particularly in regard to safety, efficacy, and consistency. This document categorizes medicinal plants into three groups: plants used on a daily basis, plants subject to large-scale scientific studies and registered in pharmacopoeias, and new plants that need to be studied. For each of these plant types, there are specific registration requirements intended to encourage people to use plants that do not cause adverse reactions or require allopathic medical advice, as well as to protect people from plants with toxic elements and about which there are no published studies. Following the document and guidelines, the Minister of Health issued a ministerial resolution organizing the handling and registration of herbal medicines in Kuwait.
A ministerial decree, based on World Health Organization recommendations, established the Centre for Islamic Medicine to undertake the registration of herbal medicines and to introduce the use of medicinal plants in the treatment of some diseases. Among its various tasks, the Centre
• provides therapeutic services;
• undertakes the registration of herbal medicines imported into Kuwait, as decreed by the relevant ministerial decision;
• analyses and tests the efficacy and suitability of all medicinal plants that enter into the country for human consumption;
• undertakes the importation of medicinal plants necessary for the preparation of drugs used in the treatment of some diseases;
• studies and evaluates the best pharmaceutical rendering of each herbal preparation and herbal product;
• carries out various studies on each plant, preparation, and product so as to identify the stability, efficacy, and safety of the active substances therein.
In 1986, together with the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences and the World Health Organization Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office, Kuwait worked to establish regional standards for herbal medicines (164). Kuwait's registration policy was reviewed and endorsed by the Ministers of Health of the World Health Organization Eastern Mediterranean Region Member States and has become a reference and basis for the registration of herbal medicines throughout the region. The Council of Arab Ministers of Health and the Council of Health Ministers of the Gulf also endorsed the registration policy.