Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Insure life: Advice on Using Medicinal Herbs

Medicinal herbs are those that are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Alternative Medical Systems and naturopathy. As drug companies and big pharmaceutical corporations keep increasing the prices of drugs, making them unaffordable to average people, and as concerns about side effects over standard pharmaceuticals rise, people turn to medicinal herbs in order to treat their conditions.

Of course, even prescription drugs are usually derived from both inorganic and organic herbs, and just because bulk herbs are organic and “natural” doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be used cautiously and with prudence. After all, the heart medication digitalis when administered properly can treat serious heart conditions, but the plant from which it comes – foxglove – will surely have fatal results if taken as an herbal infusion.

Used properly however, there are many organic herbs that can be effective in relieving minor symptoms. Purchasing bulk organic herbs can result in significant savings as well; when you, either as a consumer or retailer buy your herbs in bulk, you are able to take advantage of large quantity discounts on the organic bulk herbs you use and/or sell the most.

For professional naturopaths, purchasing herbs in bulk makes a great deal of sense, especially if you prescribe and administer medicinal herbs frequently. When you use certified organic herbs, you are assuring your patients that the product you are giving them is pure and free of the toxins that work their way into the leaves and stems as the result of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Farmers who produce bulk organic herbs and other produce must be familiar with organic standards, comply with these standards, keep copious written records, and submit to annual inspections. These standards are enforced at the state level, not the federal government however, although the agencies responsible for enforcement are supposed to be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These requirements, as well as the fact that there is a smaller quantity produced, are what have made bulk organic herbs more expensive than the inorganic variety. However, as the cost of fuel, petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides increase, locally produced organic bulk herbs should become increasingly competitive in price. Legally, any product that is made from at least 95% organic ingredients can be sold as “organic” and carry the USDA organic seal.

It seems obvious, but bears saying that
medicinal herbs especially should be from organic farmers, containing pesticide-free ingredients. This is what customers are increasingly demanding, and even the large corporate players in agriculture are beginning to pour capital into the production of organic herbs, fruits and vegetables. By insuring that your medicinal herbs are from an organic source, you’ll be ahead to the game.