Laymen should not dispense herbal medicines

The residents' committee in Jurong West is right to be concerned that a gardener was dispensing medical advice along with herbs from the community garden (Impasse over running a community garden; June 7).

A layman might not be aware of the risks of using herbal medicines.

Side effects could arise if the patient is also taking conventional medicine or has a latent condition.

There is also the risk of an incorrect diagnosis and prescribing the wrong treatment or a dangerous dose of a potent herb.

The dispensing of herbal products should be done only by a registered practitioner after a consultation. Unlicensed practitioners, lacking expertise and with limited or no accountability, should never be allowed to treat patients, especially those who are vulnerable, such as pregnant women, children, the elderly and those with cardiovascular disease.

Therefore, while the Government encourages community gardening, it must also develop policies which prioritise social responsibility.

The residents' committees should discuss with participants how the garden should be operated, the responsibilities of the gardeners and the possibility of the lease being terminated if the gardeners breach an agreement.

The residents' committees should discuss with participants how the garden should be operated, the responsibilities of the gardeners and the possibility of the lease being terminated if the gardeners breach an agreement.

This can be done in the form of a written agreement, which is a basic legal document.

This ensures that everyone understands and agrees on the risks and responsibilities before embarking on the enterprise.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2017, with the headline 'Laymen should not dispense herbal medicines'. Print Edition | Subscribe