Expert Opinions

Expert Opinions Archive
I love to garden. Can I plant my own herbs for healing purposes?

A.W. Stockbridge, MA
You can grow many herbs yourself--people do so for cooking purposes all the time--but using them medicinally may present a problem. "Climate and soil type, plant diseases, bugs, how and when you harvest, even other plants growing nearby can all affect levels of the plant's healing ingredients," explains herbal expert James Duke, M.D., author of The Green Pharmacy (Rodale, 1997). Dr. Duke grows many therapeutic herbs at his farm in Fulton, Maryland, but he warns that "you can't be positive that the levels of active ingredients are high enough without having them analyzed." At $195 and up per testing sample--for example, at a company like Flora Research, San Juan Capistrano, California, 949-496-8242 --that's an expensive proposition. Keep gardening--it's great exercise and helps relieve stress. But for healing purposes, you probably want to stick with commercially available herbal products.
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