Safety: Acupuncture and herbal medicine are very safe in the hands of a trained professional. Mos schools require at least 3 full time years for an acupuncture degree (LicAc). A Chinese herbal medicine degree is attended for an additional two years after achieving an acupuncture degree. It is a highly intensive, university accredited course which requires incredible dedication to complete and practice. To guarantee thorough training, only choose an acupuncturist who is a member of the British Acupuncture Council and an herbalist from the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine. Both sites have a database where you can check their membership online.
The question of herbal safely comes up frequently and it should. In the hands of the ignorant, herbal medicine can be unsafe. Even cinnamon and nutmeg are extremely toxic in large dosages. In the correct dosages they are safe and beneficial to your health. But, please do not buy herbs from anyone but a qualified RCHM herbalist. The best case scenario is that you will just waste your money. The worst case scenario is that you could put yourself at risk.
A part of safety is also choosing a reliable supplier. I use only RCHM Herbal Suppliers which means the suppliers have passed a rigorous inspection based on the standards required of any pharmaceutical product.
Ethics: As an animal lover I take this issue very seriously and think the use of protected species (both plant and animal) is a despicable crime. For people concerned about the use of endangered species in Chinese herbal medicine I can assure you that I have never come across any herbalist who uses endangered species. It would be a very dodgy person to illicit such an activity- the equivalent of a GP selling street drugs.
Chinese herbal medicine traditionally uses plants, animals, and minerals as herbs. However, the UK Medicines Act of 1968 defines ‘herb’ as only a plant. The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, of which I am a member, requires members to obey this law and I strictly adhere to this law and my membership guidelines. My insurance requires it and the herbal company I dispense through does not supply animal or mineral products. All of the ingredients are listed on herbal prescriptions so you can assured that you are only receiving legal plant materials.