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Where to Buy Herbs

Choosing where to buy your herbs and herbal products can be a little difficult. I recommend buying herbal products that are "Standardized". This is shown on the label.

More and more herbs are being sold as standardized extracts. These products contain a specific concentration of one or more "marker" compounds-- substances believed to be the active ingredients that contribute to an herb's therapeutic effects, explains herbal expert Adriane Fugh-Berman, M.D., of the National Women's Health Network.

When it comes to bulk herbs, your choice is a bit more difficult. Herbal products are made from plants that have medicinal properties. Light, air and moisture all speed the deterioration of dried plants and rob them of their usefulness. The most destructive process is oxidation -- that is, reactions with oxygen that change the plants' chemistry.

1) Look for well-tested products. The label should mention lab testing.

2) Look for a well made brand. Herbal product manufacters are required to adhere to standards established for food processing (so called-GMP's or Good Manufacturing Practices). Those that are proud to adhere and do so voluntarily often mention this on the label.

3) Buy single herb products that clearly state how much of the herb you are buying. Complex mixtures of numerous herbs often contain inadequate doses of each. As most things, you generally get what you pay for; cheap herbs aren't necessarily good buys.

4) Finally, beware of outrageous claims. If an herb sounds to good to be true, then it probably is.

Rarely does an herb at the prescribed dose cause stomach upset or headache. This may reflect the purity of the preparation or added ingredients such as synthetic binders or fillers. For this reason, only high quality, standardized extract formulas are recommended.

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