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How can I tell if an herbal product is of high quality?

As with vitamin and mineral supplements, it's often difficult to see quality in herbs simply by looking at the finished product. This is especially true with herbs, as the standards for quality are still being developed. Quality in herbal products begins with high quality raw materials. This means that the manufacturer must have an intimate knowledge of herbs.

Verified ingredients. One dried powder looks very much like another, so a reputable herbal manufacturer will exercise great care in the raw material purchasing process, and should be able to provide such things as Certificates of Authenticity and other documents establishing the source and quality of the herb.

Appropriate harvesting. Because the chemical makeup of the plant changes as it matures, selecting the herb at the correct time during the growing season is important.

Appropriate plant parts. Different parts of the herb have different chemical constituents (and different effects in the body), so knowing which part of the herb to select is important. Some companies simply grind up the whole plant (stems, roots, leaves, flowers) and sell that as the herb.

Careful manufacturing. The delicate active principles of the herb must also be protected during the manufacturing process, so great care must be taken here as well.

Many people have tried herbal products only to be disappointed when they don't work as hoped. A large part of this must be laid at the feet of manufacturers hoping to profit from the explosion of interest in herbs without understanding herbal medicine. For example, many people know of echinacea as being an important herb for supporting healthy immune function. But only certain parts of the plant contain the substances that have established benefits. "echinacea." People taking the whole plant expecting to get the therapeutic benefits described will often be disappointed. A high quality product will have the active ingredients necessary to give the health benefits known by traditional herbalists. So if you've tried herbs before and been disappointed in the results, it may not be the fault of herbal medicine.

Want to check out some of Metagenics' top products? Take a look at UltraMeal RICE,UltraClear PLUS Medical Food, and Multigenics.



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