FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine is committed to consumer protection. In 2004, the RCHM launched an Approved Suppliers Scheme, the first of its kind in the UK.

The scheme aims to provide reassurance to patients about the quality and safety of their medicines. Suppliers of herbs and herbal products who wish to join the scheme are audited by a trained pharmaceutical auditor ; if they meet the required standards they are recommended for inclusion under the scheme. The standards are based on those required for any pharmaceutical product.

Under the scheme:

  • herbs and herbal products are sourced from manufacturing companies that are licensed for good manufacturing practice (GMP). Good manufacturing practice is a quality standard which aims to ensure that medicinal products are consistently produced and controlled to the standards appropriate to their intended use . Suppliers in the UK are most likely to source products from companies in China, which are licensed by the State Food & Drug Administration. Products may also be sourced from companies in Taiwan, where licences are issued under the Taiwanese Department of Health, or by the Australian medicine regulators.
  • herbs are stored in the correct environment which is monitored for temperature and humidity.
  • an audit trail is in place so that in the event of a product recall, practitioners who have bought the relevant products can be easily identified and contacted.

The majority of RCHM members uses products from approved suppliers.

To find members near you, please use our search facility here

Members of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) are all fully qualified practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine. They have either graduated in the UK from a college affiliated to the RCHM or, if they have graduated overseas, they will have passed our stringent application and interview procedure. Our members have to abide by our Code of Ethics and Dispensary Practice, and they are encouraged to use suppliers who have undergone a full quality control audit which allows the supplier to be placed on our Approved Suppliers List. They also take part in Continuing Professional Development activities to keep their knowledge up to date. In addition, they have to hold full professional insurance and, in the unlikely event of a problem occurring, the RCHM has a formal complaints procedure.

The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) is responsible for the registration of individual Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) practitioners in the UK. We don't register clinics, shops or business addresses, just the practitioners themselves.

We therefore need the name of the practitioner who will be, or has been, treating you. You should always know the name of your CHM practitioner and the staff at the clinic should, of course, be happy to tell you this. Once you have his or her name please come back to us and we will be very happy to check our database.

If you cannot find out a name for any reason, please provide the FULL postcode and our database may show if a member is working there. You should then only ever see the member whose name we give you as we cannot guarantee the quality of any other practitioners working at the clinic if they are not also registered with us.

Registration is currently voluntary in the UK and so you will find that a number of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) practitioners are not registered. This does not mean that they are not qualified. However, it does mean that we (the RCHM) know nothing about their qualifications and professional background and we cannot comment on the quality of their knowledge and experience. The RCHM recommends that you always consult with one of our members.

Members of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) are all fully qualified practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine. They have either graduated in the UK from a college affiliated to the RCHM or, if they have graduated overseas, they will have passed our stringent application and interview procedure. Our members have to abide by our Code of Ethics and Dispensary Practice, and they are encouraged to use suppliers who have undergone a full quality control audit which allows the supplier to be placed on our Approved Suppliers List. They also take part in Continuing Professional Development activities to keep their knowledge up to date. In addition, they have to hold full professional insurance and, in the unlikely event of a problem occurring, the RCHM has a formal complaints procedure.

If you are generally happy with your practitioner, even though they are not registered with the RCHM:

• try to find out if they are registered with any other organisation in the UK and ask to see proof

• ask whether they have full professional indemnity insurance cover

• ask where they get their herbs and herbal products from

• are the products you buy clearly labelled?

• ask yourself if you are happy with the level of communication and understanding caused by any language differences (use of a good interpreter is acceptable and not unusual)

• ask yourself if you are confident that the practitioner took a full medical history and is aware of any other medication (pharmaceutical drugs) that you are taking.

The RCHM does not dictate fee levels to members. However, all prices and fees should be discussed with you prior to seeing a practitioner for a consultation and starting to take the herbs; this is part of our Code of Ethics and so the practitioner will be happy to do this.
We are sorry to hear that you are unhappy with your experience of Chinese herbal medicine. We will do our best to help you but first we need to find out if the practitioner you are seeing is a member of the RCHM. Please let us have his or her name and full clinic address.

If the practitioner is a member of the RCHM then we can pursue your concerns through our formal complaints procedure. We take any such complaints very seriously and we can assure you that the matter will be dealt with fairly and efficiently by our Ethics Committee.

If the practitioner is not a member of the RCHM then unfortunately we are limited as to what we can do, since our complaints procedure only applies to members. However, depending on the sort of complaint you wish to make you could:

• Contact your local trading standards department

• Contact a solicitor for legal advice (an initial consultation may be free of charge)

• Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

(NOTE: For complaints involving abuse we also suggest contacting the police and the organisation called THE CLINIC FOR PROFESSIONAL BOUNDARIES against abuse by health and care workers (formerly POPAN) which is an organisation providing support and advocacy.

The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) is responsible for registering Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) practitioners across the UK. Unfortunately we don't supply herbs or herbal products. We strongly recommend that if you are seeking CHM treatment you consult with a member of the RCHM. All our members are fully qualified CHM practitioners, subject to our Codes of Ethics and Good Practice and hold full professional insurance. We also encourage our members to use herb and herbal product suppliers who have undergone a quality control audit and are listed on our Approved Supplier Scheme. Please let us know your preferred location (town/county/postcode) and we will send you a list of our members practising in your area.
It is not unusual for acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments to be combined. However, the RCHM does not register acupuncturists specifically, although the majority of our members do also provide acupuncture treatment and will be members of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) or the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM). You should check acupuncture qualifications and registration by contacting the BAcC on 0208 735 0400 or info@acupuncture.org.uk or the ATCM on 0208 457 2560 or info@atcm.co.uk
Unfortunately this is purely an administrative office and we are unable to advise on herbal treatments or on specific medical conditions. Any queries regarding your treatment, or the herbs or herbal products you have been prescribed, should really be referred to your practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM). CHM treatments are very much tailored to the individual, dependent on a number of factors including medical history and any other drugs you may be taking. Your practitioner should be happy to discuss with you any concerns you may have, explain your prescription and advise on what to do in the event that you experience any side effects. You should certainly contact your practitioner if you do experience what you consider to be side effects of the prescription you are taking. If you would like to check that your practitioner is registered with us, and therefore subject to our Codes of Ethics and Good Practice, please let us have his or her name and we will be happy to check our database.
The RCHM has always condemned the illegal trade in endangered plant and animal species, and our members are subject to strict rules which prohibit the use of any such material.
The RCHM doesn't recommend specialists, just practitioners who have expressed a special interest in a certain subject. We (the RCHM) cannot vouch for this special interest or the extra training/research.

We ask members to express the fields that they have a special interest in, but this does not necessarily mean that they are specialists in this field. The enquirer is encouraged to find out for themselves what additional training and experience that RCHM member has. However, we cannot comment on additional qualifications, training or experience.