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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Written by Christopher Hobbs LAc AHG

Explore Wellness in 2021