With Ayurveda and Ayurvedic medicine grabbing the attention of doctors and herbalists in the UK, Ayurvedic herbs are starting to appear in the shops.

But I feel I should sound a note of caution. Single Ayurvedic herbs available in UK are only the tip of the iceberg.

Traditional Ayurvedic medicine boasts some 8,000 Ayurvedic compound formulations, made from herbs and minerals and scientifically processed, for the treatment of disease as well as rejuvenation.

Just as in Western medicine, practitioners must undergo a five-year Ayurvedic medical training period and take a lifetime to master.

As more British experts write about Ayurveda and as popular journalism tends to focus on only the superficial aspects of such systems, I believe it will become increasingly important for qualified Ayurvedic doctors to comment on articles to avoid Western dilution of the ancient medical system.

There is also an increasing need for authentic information manuals on Ayurvedic herbs for the general public.

I am in the process of writing one which I hope will help consumers choose Ayurvedic herbs and treatments that are safe and effective.

At the moment, there are a selected few Ayurvedic single herbs on the market in UK such as Ashwagandha (withania somnifera, Indian winter cherry - often wrongly called Indian ginseng), brahmi (centella asciatica or bacopa monnieri, another species of brahmi popularly called gotu kola in the West), neem (azadirachta indica), guggul (gum of camiphora mukul), boswellia (frankincense gum ), satavari (asparagus racemosus) and curcumin (turmeric root).

Ideally, the source, purity, dosage and contamination of the herbal product needs to be ascertained before buying.

Unfortunately, there is much choice but little authentic information accompanying the herbs on the shelves.

Most of the patients I see are confused about the appropriate herbal remedy to choose from the hundreds available.

Generally, most sales assistants are poorly trained in herbal medicine.

If you suffer from a condition, you must obtain proper professional advice from qualified Ayurvedic practitioners or doctors trained in Ayurveda in order to gain maximum benefit, just as you should see a qualified herbalist to get proper advice on Western herbs.

Ayurveda is a very sophisticated system of natural medicine which requires proper training to practice.

To find out about accredited practitioners in the UK, contact the British Ayurvedic Medical Council on 0207 224 0908.

Dr Jani will be giving talks on Ayurvedic herbal medicine at the Good Health Show at Birmingham NEC (0870 333 1277) next Friday and Saturday.

He will also be talking on the BBC's Asian Network live breakfast show next Sunday.

Dr Milind Jani works as a conventional and holistic GP and Dr Asmita Jani as Ayurvedic Consultant from 3 Eaton Gardens, Hove. Call them on: 01273 777448 or e-mail: milind.jani@ntlworld.com