Qualifications for Owning and Operating a Herbal Remedies Store
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Ben Dewofle
Posted on: February 5, 1999

I am enquiring about the qualifications needed to becoming a owner and operator of my own herbal remadies store. I would be in debt to you if you could assist me in the quest of this information. Or an email address of someone who might know about the types of regulations and courses that I might need to take a look at before I travel too much farther.

There are no qualifications required in most jurisdications, including Canada and the U.S., to sell or dispense herbs. There are, of course, exceptions. Some European countries such as Germany have controls on what establishments can sell herbal remedies. And in most jurisdictions there are some herbal drugs that cannot be dispensed by anyone except a licensed pharmacist; these include drugs such as digitalis. But the vast majority of herbal remedies can be sold by anyone so long as the usual retailing laws are abided by.

To properly serve your customers, however, requires expertise in herbs and their use in treating medical conditions. "Self-limiting" conditions such as colds, constipation, insomnia, etc. can treated "from the shelf" with packaged herbal remedies that give directions for us on the labels. Beyond the packaged remedies, dispensing herbalists need to know about hundreds of other herbs. These may be available only in raw bulk form and the dispensing herbalist needs to know how they are prepared for use and how to take them, for what conditions, and for how long. Dispensing herbalists need to know the contraindications and side effects of the herbs, and be able to advise customers about alternatives.

Anyone considering getting into the business of selling herbal remedies should take courses on medicinal herbs, or hire someone with that qualification. For a list of herbal courses and schools, go to http://www.herb.com/schools.html .

Regulation of herbal remedies is always something to watch for. Both Canada and the United States are reviewing the natural products industry and proposals have been made to license and control herbal remedy manufacturers and possible even retailers. Whether these initiatives will have a positive or negative effect on the industry remains to be seen.

For more information there are several books that touch on the issues raised here: "Herbs for Sale: Growing and Marketing Herbs, Herbal Products and Herbal Know-How" and "Growing Your Herb Business", both of which are available from Richters online.

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