Herbal Medicine and Public Healthcare: Current and Future Challenges

  • Dâmaris SilveiraEmail author
  • Jose M. Prieto
  • Marcela M. Freitas
  • Andre L. D. A. Mazzari


Worldwide, traditional treatments (including herbal medicines) and traditional practitioners are still the primary source of health for many millions of people. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for the incorporation of traditional medicine in public health services. However, for most of the traditional practices, information about efficacy, safety and quality is poor, and the control on the proper utilisation of these practices is scarce or inexistent, so the evaluation of the results of treatment (efficacy) is quite difficult. Moreover, the established standards, certification requirements, competency testing (quality), or legal requirements for a business licence (regulation) are often absent. The global integration of traditional medicine in public health services envisioned by WHO depends on a coordinated approach by the following stakeholders: regulators, healthcare professionals/traditional practitioners, manufacturers and patients/public. In this chapter, we provide the reader with an overall picture of the challenges faced by each of the stakeholders and what are the current approaches to solve them. We deliberately will restrict the discussion to herbal medicines, specifically Phytotherapy, which is just one of the many types of traditional practices.



Absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion


Adverse drug reactions


National Sanitary Surveillance Agency


Brazilian Central of Medicines


Complementary and alternative medicines


Conventional healthcare practitioners


Gas chromatography


Herbal-drug interaction


High-performance liquid chromatography


Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency


National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine


National Drug Monitoring Centre


Natural Health Products Directorate


Natural health products


National Health Systems


Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate


National Policy on Complementary and Integrative Practices


National Policy on Medicinal Plants and Herbal Medicines


Quality control


Brazilian list of essential medicines


Plant species considered significant to SUS


Brazilian public health system


Traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine


Traditional Chinese medicine


Traditional herbal medicinal product


Traditional Korean medicine


Thin-layer chromatography


Traditional medicine practitioners


United Kingdom


United States of America


National Notification System to the Sanitary Surveillance


World Health Organization


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dâmaris Silveira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jose M. Prieto
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marcela M. Freitas
    • 1
  • Andre L. D. A. Mazzari
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of BrasiliaBrasiliaBrazil
  2. 2.School of PharmacyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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