So how will Brexit affect the TCM industry?


Just three weeks to go until the big day – Brexit. Our worries are far smaller than Theresa May’s but we certainly have many things to consider as a supplier to acupuncturists and herbalists in over 24 European countries.

As you are probably aware, we import the majority of our goods such as acupuncture needles, moxa, dry herbs and concentrated granules direct from China, so why does Brexit matter to Phoenix, acupuncturists and herbalists in the UK?

The cost of imports coming from other countries may increase anyway

You might be worried about the cost of your weekly grocery shop going up, but you may not have considered your acupuncture and herbal supplies. Although our products are imported from China, if the pound’s value (GBP) drops against the Chinese yuan (RMB) in response to Brexit, then our buying power will diminish and the cost of acupuncture needles and herbs from China will be more expensive. Following this, Phoenix and other Chinese medicine suppliers will naturally increase prices in order to stay afloat.

As we proudly supply products with the best quality, increases in price might prompt TCM practitioners to seek cheaper herbs and acupuncture needles, at the expense of quality and patient safety. Regardless of circumstance, we will continue to supply authentic quality herbal medicine and high-quality acupuncture needles as we believe it is integral for suppliers and practitioners alike to protect patients and provide the most effective care possible.

Regulation of complementary therapies

Politicians have a million and one things to do before the 29th of March, so we hardly expect them to have the chance to review regulation on complementary medicine. However, that’s not to say that the laws may be changed in the future.

At present, acupuncture and herbal medicine are self-regulated professions in the UK and represented by registers such as the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM), the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), the Federation of Chinese Medicine Practitioners (FTCMP) and the Register of Herbal Medicine (RCHM).

For herbal medicine, Brexit might have a positive outcome. In 2011, the provision of unlicensed patent herbal medicine to patients in the European Union was prohibited. These patent herbs were ready-made herbal formulas such as commonly used Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan, Liu Wei Di Huang Wan and many more. This dramatically reduced the resources that herbalists had access to and forced many to either run their own herbal dispensaries or cease practice altogether. Leaving the EU may mean that we can take back control over regulation on herbal medicine, and design the law to maximise benefit to patients.

Fortunately, for now, our Chinese herbal dispensary was set up to provide an on-demand prescription service for herbalists. Herbalists can write tailored prescriptions for each patient, and order the formula from our dispensary.


Around 73% of pharmaceutical imports come from the European Union and with a no-deal Brexit, the supply of medicines may be compromised. Already with the declining funding and resources within the NHS, more patients may seek alternative therapies such as acupuncture and herbal medicine. With complementary medicines, patients will receive more time and a more personalised approach to their health.

On the other hand, Brexit, and particularly a no-deal Brexit, may lead to a decline in the economy as the value of the pound will potentially drop and many businesses will move to Europe. Loss of jobs, as a result, will lead to people having less disposable income and will then be less inclined to spend money on therapies such as acupuncture and herbal medicine.

Cost to ship to European countries

As we will be leaving the customs union, the movement of free trade between us and European countries will stop. Unlike Switzerland which is surrounded by land, the United Kingdom is an island and we rely on sea freight and air cargo to import and export products, so without the customs union, overseas trade will be expensive for every industry.

For our internal sales team, this means additional paperwork for any orders of TCM supplies going overseas. For TCM practitioners in the EU, delivery costs to order from Phoenix and other TCM suppliers in the UK are likely to increase and a customs clearance charge of £25 is usually applicable per order.

To see our current international delivery costs read our shipping information page.

So does Phoenix have a plan?

Absolutely. We are currently working with our international distributors and our sister company China Purmed, to help continue providing a great service to TCM practitioners all over Europe. Please stay tuned!

If you are concerned about ordering acupuncture and herbal medicine supplies after Brexit, please contact our sales team to find out what we can do for you



What do you think?

One Reply to “So how will Brexit affect the TCM industry?”

  1. I would say that your business will be seriously compromised as your customers like me will look for our supplies in Europe. You sound amazingly optimistic but the sad fact is that you will not be able to continue the business.

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