Heather McLeod


Body, Mind, Soul,


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WHO Traditional Medicines Research

Initially the WHO Traditional Medicines unit focussed on research on herbal medicines and acupuncture. There are several publictions available (see link on right) on the methodologies for research and on specific herbal remedies, including:

  • General Guidelines for Methodologies on Research and Evaluation of Traditional Medicine

  • WHO/IUCN/WWF Guidelines on the Conservation of Medicinal Plants

  • WHO Guidelines on Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) for Medicinal Plants

  • WHO Guidelines on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for Herbal Medicines

  • WHO Guidelines on Safety Monitoring of Herbal Medicines in Pharmacovigilance Systems

  • WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants – Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4

  • Guidelines for Clinical Research on Acupuncture

  • Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials.


WHO plans for 2010/2011 include supporting member states to include herbal medicines into the national essential medicines for primary healthcare. It is also planned to complete a number of technical documents related to medicines and research:

  • Quality control methods for finished herbal products

  • Good processing  practices for herbal medicines

  • Safety of herbal medicines: interaction with other medicines

  • Research methodologies for clinical study in TM/CAM

  • Technical review on clinical study of Phytotherapy.



Homeopathic Medicines, 2010


A document on homeopathic medicines, “Safety Issues in the Preparation of Homeopathic Medicines” was published in 2010.





Quality control methods for herbal materials, 2011


 “WHO published 'Quality control methods for medicinal plant materials' in 1998 in order to support WHO Member States in establishing quality standards and specifications for herbal materials, within the overall context of quality assurance and control of herbal medicines. This is the updated edition of the 1998 publication, with an updated title. The purpose of this updated edition remains unchanged from that of the first edition. It is to support the development of national standards based on local market conditions, with due regard to existing national legislation and national and regional norms. It describes a series of internationally harmonized tests for assessing the quality of herbal materials, including the determination of pesticide residues, arsenic and toxic heavy metals, microorganisms and aflatoxins.”





International Regulatory Cooperation for Herbal Medicines (IRCH)


The WHO facilitated the establishment of the International Regulatory Cooperation for Herbal Medicines (IRCH) is a global network of regulatory authorities responsible for regulation of herbal medicines, established in 2006. The mission of the IRCH is to protect and promote public health and safety through improved regulation for herbal medicines.  There were 23 country and regional members as of January 2010.




HerbalNet Institutional Repository


HerbalNet Digital Repository is a collection of digital intellectual materials on herbal and traditional medicine from WHO offices and WHO partner institutions in the South-East Asia Region. The objectives of HerbalNet include promoting institutional collaboration in the area of herbal medicine and promoting the safety, efficacy and quality of herbal medicines by exchanging information on national norms and standards. A key objective is to share evidence-based information and country experiences in the use of herbal medicine in primary health care.

World Health Organization (WHO) on

Traditional Medicine

WHO Traditional Medicine WHO Publications TM/CAM Flag of the WHO

WHO Publications on Traditional, Complementary and Herbal Medicine

WHO Homeopathic Medicines WHO Herbal Medicines IRCH HerbalNet

Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine