Traditional medicinal materials

Understand the requirements for the import and sale of traditional medicinal materials in Singapore.

What are traditional medicinal materials

Traditional medicinal materials (TMM) refer to medicinal materials from plants, animals or minerals in their natural states, or in processed forms that have undergone simple processing, such as cutting or drying (see examples).

TMM are intended for medicinal purposes only. Herbal materials used for food purposes, or presented as a food product, such as pre-packed raw herbs and flavoured Asian drinks with herbs, do not come under our purview.

Regulatory requirements of TMM

TMM are not finished dosage forms, such as capsules and tablets, and are not subject to pre-market approval and licensing for their import and sale in Singapore.

Dealers are responsible for the safety and quality of the traditional medicinal materials that they are dealing in, and must comply with the following guidelines before supplying TMM into Singapore.

Toxic heavy metal limits

Toxic heavy metal limits

Your product must not exceed the following heavy metal limits:

Heavy metal Permissible limits
Arsenic 5 parts per million (ppm)
Cadmium 0.3ppm
Lead 10ppm
Mercury 0.5ppm

Labelling requirements

Labelling requirements

Your product label should include the ingredients and their strengths in English. You are also not allowed to claim or indirectly suggest that the product will prevent, alleviate or cure any of the following conditions:

  1. Blindness
  2. Cancer
  3. Cataract
  4. Drug addiction
  5. Deafness
  6. Diabetes
  7. Epilepsy or fits
  8. Hypertension
  9. Insanity
  10. Kidney diseases
  11. Leprosy
  12. Menstrual disorder
  13. Paralysis
  14. Tuberculosis
  15. Sexual function
  16. Infertility
  17. Impotency
  18. Frigidity
  19. Conception and pregnancy

Dealers must ensure that all health claims and information associated with the products are sufficiently supported and submitted to HSA as and when required. Otherwise, all unsubstantiated health claims and information will be considered misleading and must be removed from the product materials. 

Prohibited ingredients

Prohibited ingredients

Under Singapore's legislation, TMM imported and sold here cannot contain these ingredients or substances:

  • Synthetic drugs.
  • Substances listed in the Poisons List of the Poisons Act.     

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE)

Animal derived ingredients

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) refers to a group of progressive diseases including scrapie in sheep and goats, chronic wasting disease in mule, deer and elk, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, as well as Kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans.

The infectious agents causing these diseases replicate and cause neurological disorders and eventual death in the infected individuals. There are currently no early diagnostic tests or known therapies for these diseases.

If your product contains animal derived ingredients, you must comply with our TSE guidelines236 KB to minimise the risk of TSE transmission.

Substances from endangered species

Substances from endangered species

If your product contains substances from endangered species listed under the Endangered Species (Import & Export) Act, you should contact the Wildlife Management Group of NParks to obtain the necessary Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) import and export permits.

Advertisements and promotions

Advertisements and promotions

You will require a valid permit from us before publishing any medical advertisement or conducting any sales promotion activity directed at the general public.

Refer to our advertisements and promotions guidelines for more information on what is required before you run any advertisement or promotion for your products.