When the naturopath Alfred Vogel started his clinic in Switzerland, he compared the results of using fresh herb remedies on his patients with the results of using remedies made from dried herbs. In the majority of cases, remedies made from freshly-picked herbs were more beneficial.
This made perfect sense to Vogel, as he had always thought that practitioners should interfere as little as possible with the plants provided by Nature, and should make remedies from plants that had just been picked in order to reflect their true quality.
These days we have scientific methods that prove exactly how important it is to use fresh plants if you can, as ingredients such as volatile oils quickly disappear whilst the plant is drying, and so are not available in remedies made from dried herbs. Vogel’s experience with his patients and the careful study of the herbs he grew brought him to this conclusion over half a century ago.
What does this mean to you?
Let’s say you’re taking Echinacea, one of the most popular remedies for keeping the immune system working well. The fresh plant product made from Echinacea purpurea contains approximately three times the amount of alkylamides as the product made from dried herb. Why is this important? New research has shown that alkylamides contribute greatly to the way that the immune system powers into action when a bug shows its ugly head. So, if the fresh herb contains quite a lot of these alkylamides, chances are your remedy will work better if it is made from the fresh herb rather than a dried herb that has lost a few things along the way.
Another example would be Cynara (Globe Artichoke), a herb that is taken to keep cholesterol levels under control. (An excellent remedy: I have had great success with this one.) The bitter substances are approximately twice as high in the fresh plant product, and it is these substances that have the major effect on the digestive system, helping the liver to deal with fats more effectively.
Sometimes the ingredients that disappear in dried products are not the ones that make the remedy work, but those that keep it stable. This is obviously important if you want your remedy to keep working! Crataegus (Hawthorn) is used to strengthen the heart if the blood pressure is imbalanced or if angina or arteriosclerosis is present. The procyanidines that are responsible for Crataegus’ positive effect on the heart are only stable in fresh herb extracts, making these preparations consistently effective.
So look for fresh herbs to keep you healthy!