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National Institute of Medical Herbalists – statement in response to news stories on herbal medicine and cancer

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The National Institute of Medical Herbalists is the largest and longest established professional register for practising herbalists. Our members are trained to degree standard and above, and take part in comprehensive ongoing professional development activities.

Herbal medicine is exactly like any other type of medicine – it is most effective when used following a consultation with a professional. We would always recommend that anyone with significant symptoms, an established medical problem or who is undergoing medical treatment of any sort should first consult one of our members if they are considering using herbal preparations to support their health or well-being.

The Institute agrees that there are herbal products that should be avoided during cancer treatment.  However, when used in consultation with a professional medical herbalist, herbal medicine can be effective in a number of ways, including in the support of the patient both before and during conventional treatment to minimise side effects and post treatment to improve quality of life and to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

Our members are clinically trained to guide their patients about the safety and efficacy of using herbal medicines alongside any conventional treatments they may be undergoing, and would always work with their patient’s wider healthcare team.

This story is based on statements from a Portuguese professor at an event in Lisbon. The NHS in the UK already works with medical herbalists to support the provision of cancer care, including through their partnership with Breast Cancer Haven.

14 November 2019