A PRACTITIONER in traditional Chinese medicine says she will be forced out of business by a change in the law which will take effect next year.

New European Union regulations are set to stop anyone other than fully-licensed medical practitioners importing and prescribing hundreds of herbs, roots and tinctures.

Officials say the law is needed to ensure that all medicines are correctly licensed and regulated.

However, Louanne Richards says standards are already high and that the move could mean more people buying potentially dangerous drugs and treatments sold over the Internet.

The ingredients include herbs and plants such as ginseng, ginger and lily buds.

Ms Richards, of the Raleigh Park Clinic, in West Oxford, said: “As a herbalist, my primary loyalty is to my patients, not to an ill-conceived new law.

“I treat people for conditions such as infertility, skin complaints to things like epilepsy, irritable bowel syndrome and gynaecological problems.

“It seems very unjust that my patients will not be allowed to receive the herbs they need.

“I am also deeply concerned this legislation will mean my patients are forced to turn to the Internet to find their treatments. This is not only unregulated, but potentially dangerous, because they won’t know who they’re buying from.”

Ms Richards, of Stanton St John, added: “It’s really important for freedom of choice, for people who believe in this form of medicine.”

She said standards were already maintained by the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM), a professional body set up in 1987.

Registered practitioners should instead be given the same right as GPs under the new laws, said Ms Richards, who has been practising for 12 years. But the EU directive said the substances had to be licensed and regulated, like most publicly-available products.

Henley MP John Howell, whose constituency includes Stanton St John, said: “I believe in patients being able to make informed choices about treatment, and in professionals being free to deliver the treatment they feel most appropriate in particular circumstances.

“This might include complementary or alternative treatments such as Chinese herbal medicine where this is the preference of the patient in consultation with their clinician.

“I know that the Government is looking closely at this particular directive and will be putting forward a considered approach when all appropriate sources have been looked at.”