Tips for Buying & Storing Medicinal Herbs

Imagine an ideal world, where we all have the time, commitment, and space to grow our medicinal herbs, right alongside the fruit, vegetable, and animals we are raising. Those of us who can’t, often envy those who do. As much as we strive for self-sufficiency, it’s something very few people can achieve.
The only way to ensure that your remedies are of a high quality and effective is to:

• Purchase organic herbs.
• Know the source of the plant material you’re purchasing.
• Grow your own using high-quality seeds of the medicinal standard.
• Use the proper storage techniques.

Buying Medicinal

When you purchase medicinal herbs, it’s important that you find a reputable company that is known for its honesty and ethical practices. These companies should sell organic herbs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions with regards to their practices. The fresher, the better, though if you are purchasing dried herbs, they are just as effective, provided they have been dried and well stored.
How do you know it’s high quality? It should hold its taste, color, smell, and effectiveness. The dried herb should be similar in color as when it is fresh. It should have a delicious smell and taste fresh and potent.


Growing Your Own

The best option for any food is to grow your own, but most of us don’t have that luxury. There are different ways to do it if you don’t have the space, such as vertical gardens using shoe holders that fit over a door. You can grow small amounts of selected herbs.
If there’s no way for you to grow your herbs, buy local.


Proper Storage Techniques

Just like any other food product, herbs are vulnerable to light, moisture, air, and temperatures. Controlling these components will help extend their shelf life. Follow these tips to store your medicinal herbs properly:
• Use colored, glass containers to store the herbs in. If you can ensure they are protected from the light, then you can use a clear glass container. It you can ensure they will be stored in a cool, dark place (such as a closet, pantry, or cabinet) then they can also be stored effectively in foil or brown paper bags.
• Get to know your supplier while making sure they’re selling authentic, high quality, freshly dried herbs. The packaging should tell you where the herbs were grown, collected, and where they were packaged.
• You should only buy your medicinal herbs in small amounts, essentially what you will use within around 3 months of making the purchase.
• The ideal ambient storage temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees.
• Barks and dried herb roots can be kept for around a year or two, though in some cases as many as 5 years.
• Flowers and leaves can be kept for around 6 months to a year.
• Powdered herbs have the lowest shelf life and should be used within 6 months, whether the herbs are cut or whole.


Trust your senses, your sense of smell, taste, and sight. While old herbs don’t go bad, they won’t be as effective. So, if you notice that the herb strength is waning, add more plant material.