The health secretary Andrew Lansley has offered herbalists an olive branch that will allow them to continue selling clinically unproven remedies despite an EU directive outlawing the practice.
In April of this year, the EU will implement a directive that will make it illegal for businesses and healthcare practitioners to sell unlicensed herbal medicines.
However, Mr Lansley has proposed a get-around that will allow health food stores to continue selling them in the UK.
He will allow herbalists to gain official accreditation through the Health Professions Council to "ensure that the public can continue to have access to these products".
Desiree Shelley, president of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, said: "The government is to be congratulated on making the right decision."
However, Professor David Colquhoun, a pharmacologist at University College London, said: "They should not have been given the badge of governmental approval that state regulation confers on them."
The herbal medicine market in the UK is worth an estimate £126 million.
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