Herb Basics 101: Buyer Beware


In our last post, we talked about the importance of being well informed when you source herbs and herbal products.

In case you think we were overstating the need for this, we just discovered the results of an investigation published by the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York.

They took at at look at the actual contents of “herbal supplements” sold in Wal-Mart, Target and Walgreens in New York State and here’s what they found:

Of the products subjected to DNA testing, only 21% had DNA from the plants listed on the bottle.

Or to put it another way, for nearly 80% of the products sold in these stores the labeling was fraudulent.

Not only did these products not have the ingredients advertised, many were contaminated with rice, wheat, wild carrots (!), asparagus or/and allium. (Allium is the genus that includes onions and garlic, but also hundreds of wild species.)

It looks like these bogus products are formulated with cheap fillers (wheat and rice) and any random green plant the manufacturer could purchase cheaply.

In Europe, doing this would land the suppliers in jail. In New York it was “just business” and the products were simply removed from the shelves with no penalty to anyone involved.

Did Wal-Mart, Target and Walgreens know they were selling mislabeled garbage? I hope not.

On the other hand, given the tens of millions of dollars they rack up each year selling these low and no quality products, you’d think they’d invest a little money to keep their vendors honest.

But apparently, that’s not a priority for them.

Fortunately, highly reliable sources for herbs and herbal formulas do exist – but supermarkets, super stores, vitamin stores and sadly even some “health food” stores are not among them.

If you haven’t yet read Herb Basics 101: Acquisition and Storage it will give you simple guidelines for obtaining and properly storing quality herbs.

– Ken McCarthy