CAM Education

Review: The German Commission E Monographs

Under German drug laws, there is a separate drug registration category for herbal medicines — also known as phytomedicines. In the United States, the very same herbs are regulated as “dietary supplements.”

Therefore, in the absence of regulatory oversight by any U.S. agency (as discussed in a previous post), we turn to Germany for guidance.

The German Commission E is a governmental regulatory agency established in 1978 to register herbal products. Its members include scientists, toxicologists, physicians, and pharmacists. The commission evaluated the clinical data on 300 herbs. Of these, 200 were found to have supporting documentation. It then published monographs listing their uses, side effects, and any known drug/herb interactions.

The American Botanical Council supported the English translation of the Monographs. The major contribution of this book is that it describes how this German regulatory system produced its critical evaluation of herbs that resulted in an extensive compilation of this valuable information.

An excellent review of this publication is available here.

7/18/06 08:43 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.