Barbara Cartland with HRI founders

50 Years of Helping Britain Feel Fabulous

Patricia Gallagher tells the story behind some of Britain’s favourite traditional herbal medicines. We’re proud to have just celebrated HRI Herbal Medicine’s 50th anniversary!  The company was founded under the name ‘The Herbal Research Company Ltd’ on 30th December 1963 in Swiss Cottage, London.

Although the trading name has now changed to HRI Herbal Medicine, we still adhere strongly to the company’s original objective of helping people to look and feel better with premium quality, traditional herbal remedies. Today, HRI is run by my husband Terry and me. We bought the company from Graham Carpenter, the son of the original founder, Colonel Carpenter, following the old gentleman’s death in 1993.

At the time of its foundation, the company had what were then called ‘Product Licenses of Right’ to manufacture traditional herbal remedies. The very popular HRI Clear Complexion – which we now sell on every high street and through practically every supermarket chain – is made to exactly the same formula today as it was back in the sixties.

In the early days, the Herbal Research Company used a capsule manufacturer called RP Scherer in Slough, and it was through this connection that Terry first came to hear about the company and met the founder, Colonel Carpenter. Terry and I then set up Jessup Marketing in the early eighties to import and sell high-quality Ginseng, Royal Jelly and Vitamin E products, including Dai Wang Ginseng tea, which continues to be hugely popular.

We were doing well and building the business slowly, until one morning Barbara Cartland was asked in an interview on breakfast TV how she stayed so youthful. She said it was down to Dai Wang Ginseng tea – and our sales really took off from that moment!

Looking back over our decades of working in the field of herbal medicines and products, our proudest moment was when the UK government regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, selected HRI products as amongst the first in the UK to be approved as being compliant with the new, more stringent Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) scheme regulations which started being granted from 2006.

All our hard work and huge investment in the company had finally paid off!

THRs are part of the new European Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive, which governs the approval process for herbal medicines. The Directive was introduced right across the European Union and came into effect fully on 30 April 2011.

The new laws show consumers that the products carrying the THR kite mark have been assessed by the regulator and found to be safe when used as intended. THR approval also shows that herbal medicines have been in use for at least 30 years; that they have been manufactured to high quality standards and are accompanied by reliable and accurate patient information that shows you how much to take and highlights any contra-indications.

So do we believe in the alternative herbal products we sell? Yes absolutely!  We are very passionate about using herbs instead of drugs and absolutely love working in an industry that brings help to so many people.

Terry is now a director and Treasurer of the British Herbal Medicine Association, the industry’s trade association. Today, HRI Herbal Medicine is a leading provider of herbal remedies, complementary herbal medicines and traditional herbal medicinal products, all licensed by the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).