Review of Regulatory Policies on and Benefits of Herbal Medicine in the Philippines
Herbal products are the mainstay treatment among patients with limited access to conventional medicines and those seeking holistic modalities for health and wellness. Usage continues to increase globally with the growing engagement of science and technology in the scientific and sound development of herbal products. In the Philippines, legislative controls on herbal medicine were established through the creation of the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC) which aims to include herbal medicine use in the national health care system. This paper aims to review the current regulatory policies on production, registration, promotion, and use of herbal medicines in the country. Current policies provide measures in regulating, implementing, and monitoring of herbal medicines from production to consumption stages. However, improvements based on provisions from international standards can be adopted to guarantee efficacy and safety for public use. Policies are still lacking regarding implications of long-term effects; efficacy on specific populations (i.e. children, elderly, pregnant women); and on potential interactions with other food and drugs. There is also a need to strengthen studies on the environmental determinants influencing the effectiveness of herbal products. Paucity on studies on cost-effectiveness of herbal medicines is further noted.