European ParliamentBrussels - 30 November 2011
Directorate General for Internal Policies Policy Department A: Economic and Scietific Policy


This is a summary of the presentations and discussions at a Workshop on Alternative Medicines held at the European Parliament. The workshop was organised with the aim of raising awareness about alternative medicines and exchanging views on the current legal framework. Seven experts covered topics such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, dietary methods and fasting, and others. A representative of the European Commission contributed comments about the present regulatory scenario.

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On 29 April 1999, in line with the international and national recommendations on complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies expressed by bodies such as the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, the Belgian Parliament voted in the Colla Law in order to initially regulate practitioners of four of the most popular CAM practices in Belgium: acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and osteopathy.

In the years to follow professional bodies for these practices were founded and accredited by the Ministry of Health, among which the Liga Homeopathica Classica was established for homeopathy. The Liga established high standards for the education and professional profile of homeopaths in line with the guidelines of the European Central Council of Homeopaths in preparation for an eventual specific legal framework for the profession.

Eventually, after legal pressure was brought to bear, the Ministry of Health set up 4 commissions, one for each practice, in order to establish the specific details concerning the regulation the four disciplines. Unfortunately the homeopathy commission was neither democratically constituted, nor did they include adequate representation of the most important interest of all, patients and citizens.

On Monday 12 May 2014, 15 years after the Colla Law was introduced, a Royal Decree was published by the Ministry of Health that completely denies the autonomy of the profession of the homeopath and deprives Belgian patients of their freedom of choice to have homeopathic treatment now and into the future.

Authors: Anna Dixon © KING’S FUND 2008

In this report the experience of 16 countries in regards to this issue are reviewed:
Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong SAR, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, South Africa, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK), United States of America (USA).
Throughout, three domains of regulation are analysed: practice; education and training; licensing and registration of practitioners of traditional/complementary medicine.

Research summary