Last week we talked about why herbs are often so expensive. What then should I be looking for when picking herbal products for the best value to quality
1. Look for herbs and herb products with lots of color
This is especially important for topical products but goes for dried herbs too. If there is a lot of color you know that a lot of herbs went into making that product. The more vibrant yellow/orange a calendula cream is the stronger you know it is. I have seen white ones before and it makes me sad that people buy it and don’t get as much calendula as they are hoping for. Color is always good and even roots like astragalus are more likely to be colorful if they are healthier and fresher (astragalus having more of a yellow tint when healthy)
2. Look for dried herbs that say wildcrafted or organic
If an herb is wildcrafted it is going to be the best quality of that herb you can get. If you are getting it from an individual who harvested it, ask them where they harvested it, making sure it is not from the side of the road and that it was done ethically, not harvesting all of a patch of the plant so it can recover.
3. Purchase tinctures (extracts) from reputable companies or local herbalists
Local herbalists will be sure to take care with their products. They want to give you the best quality that they can. When it comes to purchasing from a company rather than a person look for extraction ratios (#4) or buy from a practitioner based company. The most popular practitioner based herbal companies are Herb Pharm, Gaia Herbs, and Standard Process. While Herb Pharm products can be purchased in many locations, both Gaia and Standard Process can only be purchased through an herbal practitioner with proper herbal training, ensuring you get the herbs that are best suited for you. If you are an herbal practitioner, these companies can provide you with herbs if you provide them with appropriate education requirements.
4. Chose tinctures that have an extraction ratio and percentage on their label
This will ensure that if you are purchasing from an individual herbalist that they are aware of the strength of their product or that for larger companies, that their products are of a stronger extract. Generally you are looking for a ratio that is between 1:1 and 1:5 for most herbs. An alcohol percentage usually ranges from 45%-55% but can be higher for some herbs. I do not recommend purchasing a tincture with an alcohol percentage less than 45% as it may go bad. Oil, vinegar, and glycerin extracts can also have herb to menstruum (liquid) ratios but may not be as strong as tinctures but should range in the 1:5 to 1:10 range for medicinal use.
The Dancing Herbalist Topical Products all use a 1:5 extract of herbs in either oil or alcohol. Explore our products today to see how we can support you in including more herbs in your life. Be sure to also sign up for our FREE Wellness Newsletter and subscribe to receive notifications when we put up new posts.