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Popularity of alternative medicines ‘soaring’

Echinacea and green tea top the list

Herbal and homeopathic remedies are shrugging off their hippy image and hitting the mainstream, sales figures out today suggest.

Echinacea and green tea-based treatments are among the most popular complementary medicines, according to market analyst Mintel.

Overall, Britons will spend £191 million on the alternative treatments this year alone – up 32 per cent in the past five years.

And sales are set to break the £250 million barrier by 2011, Mintel predicts.


A growing number of people are self-diagnosing using the internet, the Complementary Medicine report says.

The ease of buying alternative treatments over the counter without prescriptions has apparently boosted their popularity.

Herbal remedies such as green tea-based treatments and echinacea account for 63 per cent of the complementary medicines market.

Shoppers will spend nearly £120 million on herbal remedies this year alone – up 40 per cent on 2002.

Essential oils

Homeopathic treatments such as arnica cream and essential oils have seen a 24 per cent sales growth over the same period.

Almost half (49 per cent) of the 1,039 people aged 15 and over questioned for Mintel said they had used complementary medicine and would do so again.

Mintel senior market analyst Alexandra Richmond said: ‘These treatments have now become a popular lifestyle choice, and with retailers such as Tesco and Boots now producing own-brand ranges of complementary medicine, we can see just how far these treatments have come from their hippy roots.’

The survey also found that two in five respondents thought they did not know enough about complementary medicines, while 18 per cent did not know which to use for different illnesses.

Mintel’s report classes herbal remedies, homeopathic treatments and aromatherapy treatments as complementary medicines.

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