Medicinal plant materials are supplied through collection from wild populations and cultivation. Under the overall context of quality assurance and control of herbal medicines, WHO developed the Guidelines on good agricultural and collection practices (GACP) for medicinal plants, providing general technical guidance on obtaining medicinal plant materials of good quality for the sustainable production of herbal products classified as medicines. These guidelines are also related to WHOâ€™s work on the protection of medicinal plants, aiming promotion of sustainable use and cultivation of medicinal plants.
The main objectives of these guidelines are to:
(1) contribute to the quality assurance of medicinal plant materials used as the source for herbal medicines to improve the quality, safety and efficacy of finished herbal products;
(2) guide the formulation of national and/or regional GACP guidelines and GACP monographs for medicinal plants and related standard operating procedures; and
(3) encourage and support the sustainable cultivation and collection of medicinal plants of good quality in ways that respect and support the conservation of medicinal plants and the environment in general. These guidelines concern the cultivation and collection of medicinal plants and include certain post-harvest operations. Good agricultural and collection practices for medicinal plants are the first step in quality assurance, on which the safety and efficacy of herbal medicinal products directly depend. These practices also play an important role in protection natural resources of medicinal plants for sustainable use.