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 Herbal Medicine: General Herbal Quality Control Guidlines  
Herbalists universally agree that herb quality is the single most important factor in determining whether an herbal product is effective. Here are some general guidelines concerning this important issue.

1. Leave herbs in their whole state as long as possible (until just before encapsulation). because:

Oxygen is the most powerful force in degrading quality

Easier to identiiiy adulterants

Easier to observe mound, dirt, overall color, freshness

2. Use smell, taste to identify primary flavor components of an herb. If devoid of flavor, e.g. astringent and bitter for willow bark, reject lot.

3. Observe color of herb. Red clover blossoms should be red--not brown. Chickweed and other leafy herbs should be green.

4. Watch for mould. If a sample is black or grey-mottled and smells musty or moldy, reject. Mound is a result of excess moisture and improper drying methods. All of these factors degrade the activity of the herb dramatically. Any succulent plants are more susceptible than others to mound. Primary examples are Chickweed and Gotu Kola.

5. Keep and compare vouchered sample in pint glass jar with incoming lots.

6. Use microscopic analysis and TLC where doubt exists.

7. Watch insoluble ash content of herb. Many of the roots that are sold through major root dealers are just pulled up out of the ground and shipped as is. I have seen loads of commercial golden seal that has too much dirt on it. For instance, golden seal that had an insoluble ash content in the area of 20-44%. 10-15% should be maximum.

Some careless collectors like to sell the roots with lots of dirt, because it means less processing (washing) for them, as well as adding to the weight. When buying Golden Seal, you don't want to pay for dirt!
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 About The Author
Christopher Hobbs LAc, AHG Christopher Hobbs is a fourth generation herbalist and botanist with over 30 years experience with herbs. Founder of Native Herb Custom Extracts (now Rainbow Light Custom Extracts) and the Institute for Natural Products......more
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