UK doctors are being encouraged to support the use of herbal remedies by the country's herbalists.
While UK consumers spend more than any other Europeans on herbal supplements each year, around £126 million a year according to a recent Mintel report, the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) said there is still a perception that mainstream doctors were not able to advise patients about herbal treatments.
A survey by the organisation, to mark Herbal Medicine Awareness Week, found that 96 per cent of qualified medical herbalists believe doctors do not have sufficient knowledge to give advice to patients on herbal health matters.
And a report on the NIMH survey by the Western Mail newspaper said that 61 per cent of qualified medical herbalists did not think the Government was supportive of herbal health. A third thought that within five years, the practice would be better recognised in the UK, while 34 per cent disagreed.
The herbal industry still faces acceptance problems through lack of evidence and standardised products. However rising discontent with the National Health Service and recent studies revealing the dangerous side effects from HRT are likely to see consumers increasingly choosing herbal remedies over conventional medicine.
Mintel predicts that demand for complementary medicines in the UK will soar by 45 per cent over the next five years. Increased use of herbal medicine, and homeopathic remedies, has already boosted demand by 60 per cent in the past five years, according to the NIMH.