Herbal medicines: report suspected adverse reactions to the Yellow Card Scheme

If an adverse reaction is suspected, ask patients whether they are taking any herbal medicines and discuss with them the importance of reporting this via the Yellow Card Scheme.

Advice for healthcare professionals:

  • remember, if an adverse reaction is suspected it is important to ask patients if they are taking any herbal medicines
  • report suspected adverse reactions to herbal medicines, including traditional Chinese medicines, via the Yellow Card Scheme
  • when submitting a Yellow Card for herbal medicines, it is important that you provide some extra details to help us to identify the particular product (see details below)
  • advise patients to check for the Traditional Herbal Registration Certification Mark

Report suspected adverse reactions to the Yellow Card Scheme

The Yellow Card Scheme is vital in helping the MHRA monitor the safety of all healthcare products in the UK. Over the next year, we will be publishing regular short articles to highlight how you can support the safety of medicines in the UK by reporting suspected adverse drug reactions to the Yellow Card Scheme. This article focuses on herbal medicines, including traditional Chinese medicines.

Research commissioned by MHRA in 2008 indicated that approximately a third of UK adults had used herbal medicines. These products have the potential to cause adverse reactions as well as interact with conventional medicines.

Reporting of Yellow Cards has led to important warnings about herbal medicines, for example the following Drug Safety Updates:

Healthcare professionals and patients can report any suspected side effects or adverse reactions to herbal medicines using the Yellow Card Scheme. When submitting a Yellow Card for herbal medicines, it is important that you provide some extra details to help us to identify the particular product, such as:

  • the brand name (if it has one)
  • the list of ingredients
  • ideally, a copy of package labelling (emailed to yellowcard@mhra.gov.uk)
  • details of the manufacturer

Look out for the Traditional Herbal Registration certification mark

More and more products are being registered under the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) Scheme. Tell patients to always look out for the THR logo on the label and discuss with them that this means the herbal medicine has been registered with the MHRA and was found to meet standards of quality, safety, and patient information. A list of registered herbal medicines can be found online.

Further information

NHS Choices. Herbal medicines.

Article citation: Drug Safety Update volume 11 issue 6; January 2018: 5.

Published 9 January 2018