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The legislative and regulatory framework governing herbal medicine use and practice in Kenya: a review

Mitchel Otieno Okumu
Francis Okumu Ochola
Allan Odhiambo Onyango
James Mucunu Mbaria
Daniel Waweru Gakuya
Laetitia Wakonyu Kanja
Stephen Gitahi Kiama
Mary Atieno Onyango


Complementary and alternative medicine is an integral component of primary healthcare in Kenya. This is because the infrastructural health setup in the country is inadequate in catering for all the medical needs of the population. This particularly holds true in the rural areas where many rural folk rely on products of herbal origin to offset their healthcare needs. More often than not these products are an elaborate cacophony of several different substances of biological origin and thus need personnel adept in their preparation. Sadly, due to loopholes in legislation and regulation, quacks have a field day in the practice. Moreover, the process of planting, harvesting, preparation and storage of herbs and related products dictates that a significant number of people will ultimately be involved in the whole process. This is likely to set the stage for manipulation and compromise of the safety, quality and efficacy of these products. This state of affairs appears unabated especially in the context of the current legal and regulatory framework governing herbal medicine use and practice in Kenya. Not only are these laws inadequate, they are shrouded in ambiguity, open to interpretation and the authorities mandated to implement them often end up performing duplicate roles. The aim of this review is to critique the legal and regulatory provisions governing herbal medicine use and practice in Kenya. In conclusion, laws and regulations meant to control herbal medicine use and practice in Kenya are wanting. Clear and definitive legislation on herbal medicine use and practice coupled with effective implementation by mandated institutions will go a long way in inspiring confidence to all stakeholders of herbal medicine.

Keywords: Herbal medicine, legislation, regulatory framework, Kenya

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eISSN: 1937-8688