The Essence of Herbs

Herbs are also used in homeopathic and flower remedies and to make essential oils. Essential oils are the "essence" of a plant−the moisture you see when you tear afresh plant leaf or the spray that you see when tearing a fresh tangerine peel in the sunshine. These oils give a plant their scent; they evaporate thoroughly when exposed to air.

The proper distillation process to extract these volatile oils is expensive and time consuming, so you will more than likely have to purchase your oils. Try to find a Grade A type, 100 percent pure oil when you shop. Many in the market are adulterated with a chemical fragrance enhancer and/or another substance to stretch the company's bottom line.

Unfortunelly, manufacturers who cheat by diluting their oils could do you more harm than good. If you are in the wild and are positive that you have identified a plant correctly and want to use its essential oil, you can rub the leaves of the plant on you−the moisture from the plant is the plant's essence.

However, it is important that you identify are they the essence of poisonous plants, such as poison ivy and poison oak, can give you a terrible skin reaction if touched. Before you go rubbing yourself with nature, know exactly what you are getting yourself into, or rely on a purchased product.

Some people find pleasure in learning about the plants that surround them. A lot value comes from knowing the herbs arround you. For the purpose of this blog, though, you should probably stick to purchasing your herbs from a company whose reputation you can trust until you become an expert yourself.

So,every salesperson, distributor, manufacturer, and herbal advertisement tells you that their product is the best? Guaranteed? All natural? How ho you really know what sets the quality products apart from the fly-by-night? Here's a little checklist that you can use to find the best quality in your herbal products. Call the manufacturer of the product(s) you are considering and see if they match up to this strict test of quality and integrity:

  • Are herbs free of all synthetic ingredients including dyes, artificial sweeteners, and other chemical additives? (Don't we get enough chemicals in our daily lives whithout deliberately taking them with our daily herbs?)
  • Does the bottle clearly state ALL ingredients and or additives? Does the label list the ingredients used as a base to bond the herbs into a tablet form? (Since the FDA does not require this disclosure on herb labels, those who volunteer this information on the label probably have nothing to hide.)
  • If a preservative must be used to preserve freshness, is the source of the additive or preservative from a vegetable or fruit source? (You are again looking for hidden chemicals and synthetic materials with this question.)
  • Does the manufacturer quarantine the bulk herbs for two to three days? (Any raw products left out to the elements can be spoiled or contaminated.)
  • Are the herbs unsprayed? (It is custumary in some countries to spray certain herbs and not so in others. Choose the manufacturer who knows this and gets the unsprayed herbs from the correct countries, or who tests all their herbs for any pesticides or chemical contamination.)
  • Are the herbs you are considering more expensive than many others? (Unfortunatelly, costs is a factor in good herbs, justs as cost is a factor in the quality of most products. Cutting costs at the cash register usually means your body of the best herbal products.)
  • Does the company use the most medicinal parts or the whole herb in their products? (Again, labels do not need to mention if the flower, stern, or root is used in a particular encapsulated herb, although there may be no value at all depending on which part is used. Another example is the age of a plant. Alor vera, for instance, needs to be at least four years old to have any medicinal value. For greedy, impatient, or ignorant reasons, many manufactures will bottle and sell immature, and impotent plants because legally, they can.)
  • Does the manufacturer test the "fingerprint" of each batch of herb they acquire to ensure it is what they ordered? (Many herbs look alike in bulk form. One large herb manufacturer told that they once receive cocoa bean from their supplier and was told it was pau d'arco. Visually the differences in the bulk herb were nil. The manufacturer's first quality-control check quickly uncovered the mistake and the shipment was sent back. Make sure the manufacturer has the quality equipment to undertake these types of tests.)
  • Are the encapsulated herbs made without the use of high heat? (Heat damages enzymes, evaporates potent essential oils, and decreases an herb's value. Exeption: concentrated tablets made from infusions or decoctions, liquid herbs, and extracts.)
  • Are the herbs guaranteed pure? (There is a big difference between 100 percent refund guarantee and guaranteed 100 percent pure. It is more valuable to know that you are getting what you think you're getting than to get something that is questionable and have it work or make you sick! Would you rather have a purity guarantee or would you rather just take your chances and have to get your money back on a terrible product?)
  • Does the manufacturer run themselves to pharmaceutical standards? (Are outside doors sealed againts dust, do workers wear masks, gloves, and sterile clothes, are herbs quarantined, are strict quality-control tests taken before, during, and after processing, are herbs packaged tightly in sealed containers, etc? If a company does not know what typical pharmaceutical standards are, then the answer is probably "no.")
  • Is the manufacturing plant open to visitors or inspectors? (If no, why not?)
  • Does the manufacturer have an investment of some short in research and development? (A team of scientists, doctors, nutritionists, pharmocognosist, and researchers indicates that the manyfacturer is dedicated to quality and integrity and has an interest in your health and not just their bottom line.)

If you get a straighforward "yes" answer to all of these questions,the good for you, you've found yourself a quality company. Now let's get on with a couple of thing that will help your quality herbs work even better for you!