Thank you for giving me this opportunity to answer this question which I get very often in my practice.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is broadly classified into two types:
- Medicinal materials (from plants, animals, or minerals in their natural states, or in processed forms that have undergone simple processing, such as trimming or desiccation.
- Chinese proprietary medicine (CPM) (finished form such as capsule, tablets and granules).
Currently, only CPMs are subject to pre-market approval and licensing for their import and sale in Singapore. The next time you purchase a CPM product, you should look out for the following label:
There are specific guidelines for traditional medicinal materials. According to the Health Science Authorities, (HSA) it is the responsibility of the dealer to ensure that:
(a) The traditional medicinal materials do not contain any substances controlled under the Poisons Act and other prohibited substances such as Pangamic acid including its salts, Danthron, Suprofen including its salts and Rhodamine B.
(b) The heavy metal contents of the traditional medicinal materials do not exceed the following limits: Arsenic (5 ppm), Copper (150 ppm), Lead (20 ppm) and Mercury (0.5 ppm).
(c) The labels and packaging materials of the traditional medicinal materials (if any) do not stipulate any of the 19 diseases/conditions specified in the Schedule of the Medicines (Advertisement and Sale) Act, namely, blindness, cancer, cataract, drug addiction, deafness, diabetes, epilepsy or fits, hypertension, insanity, kidney diseases, leprosy, menstrual disorders, paralysis, tuberculosis, sexual function, infertility, impotency, frigidity, conception and pregnancy.
I hope you feel more assured and confident in TCM products used in Singapore.