A brief guide to buying medicinal herbs in the U.K.
Although this is mainly for the U.K., people from the U.S. may also find this useful and those from elsewhere. I am against any outside restrictions on the sale of medicinal herbs, I think this goes against the spirit of herbalism. Medicinal herbs are provided to the people by nature and are a great gift. Formula are not legal to sell online in the U.K., but individual herbs are.
The situation is different in the U.S. because there are famous herbalists like David Winston and Richard Schulz selling their formula online. I do think they both have good products as well and I support this. They may be imported into the U.K., although there are custom charges, as I explain below in more detail.
Dried extracts in capsules
I am not against the use the dried capsule extracts and of course they are very useful in many cases, however quality is variable. I have found Organic India, Host Defence, Myconutri, Jarrow are good sources of these solid extracts. Although, Jarrow tend to try and find a single molecule to sell to people, which is of course going against the whole idea of herbalism, where it is many molecules acting together which give a plant its unique qualities. Regardless, these companies retail through Amazon UK and other places.
I think many companies in the U.K. are selling overpriced small bottles of tinctures and sometimes ones that are low strength. Although they are pricey, A. Vogel ships to the U.K., and have a good range of high quality fresh tinctures. A. Vogel found that fresh tinctures are generally better than dried as they are stronger, makes sense, but does not apply all the time. A. Vogel tinctures are available through Amazon or many health food stores. I cannot say I recommend non A. Vogel tinctures through Amazon in the U.K. For good quality and better prices it is often better to shop outside Amazon.
Neal’s Yard, Napier’s, and Baldwin’s both in the U.K. are well established options, prices are good and you can get larger volumes. Neal’s yard have their own organic farm which they grow many of their herbs, which are often very good, tinctures are fresh some of the year. Baldwin’s do not seem to care much about freshness of the herb. This does matter for some herbs. There is also The Wild Pharma in the U.K; pricing is reasonable and larger quantities are an option, many herbs are organic.
Urban Fringe in Bristol on the other hand do provide fresh tinctures, and for some herbs, like St. John’s wort and skullcap this makes a big difference. They seem to care more about this. However, they only provide small volumes (100ml). Napier’s seem to care more about fresh tinctures, their St. John’s wort is recently dried and is quite red (a sign of potency), while their skullcap is quite fresh and therefore effective.
The Wild Pharma
There is iHerb in the U.S., Herb Pharm are on iHerb and they have a very good range and clearly care about quality (fresh tinctures are common), although their prices are a bit steep. There is Mountain Rose Herbs in the U.S which have very high quality standards. It may be worth the money for shipping, especially if you are consuming small doses (e.g. 5 drops per dose). Additionally, certain herbs you can only get from U.S. like blue vervain. Expect to pay customs fees, this usually means adding 2/3 to the price roughly. Calculate how much it will be before hand.