Due to regulations that came into force over the weekend Europeans could soon have access to all forms of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) removed within the EU.
The EU passed a traditional herbal medicines directive in 2004, which directs that these medicinal remedies will be banned unless they had been granted a license during the seven year transition period. That transition period ended on 30th April 2011 when the directive was fully implemented.
According to China Daily, as of today not a single Chinese herbal medicine has been granted such a licence. This has been put down to the estimated ten million yuan (Â£925,000) to get a license and the need to collect records demonstrating 15 years of safe sales in the EU (more here).
According to reports between 50% and 60% of Europeans have tried TCM and the market for herbal products in Europe is one of the largest, if not the largest, in the world with annual sales of over â‚¬10 billion.
Missing the registration deadlines risks TCM firms becoming de-listed in the EU market. The Chinese authorities are negotiating with the EU in an attempt to extend the registration period.
Many users do swear by these TCM remedies, with anecdotal evidence of reduced discomfort, pains and even tumours.
Some traditional herbs and herbal non-medicinal products will still be able to be sold as food supplements, but TCM is normally excluded from EU medical insurance schemes.
Many people who rely on TCM products for their well-being, whether that be physiological or psychological, may very soon find that they can no longer get the products they want.