As we learned last week from Pacific College Alumnus Justin Penoyer, LAC, there are several questions to ask yourself before investing in an herbal pharmacy. One of the questions was: which type or types of herbs would you stock?
Justin chooses to stock primarily granules because they are effective, take up less space, and have less variability when it comes to patients preparing them correctly. After all, the patient just simply has to measure the correct number of scoops and add hot water! However, each form of herb has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages: Traditional and customizable, some argue that raw herbs are more potent, though this is a matter of opinion.
Disadvantages:Large space requirement, spoil easily, take time to fill, bulky and inconvenient for patients, required cooking at home = low patient compliance (a decoction machine can help with compliance).
Advantages: Needs little space, lowest cost, easy to take.
Disadvantages: Therapeutically weak, cannot be customized, and most difficult to digest.
Advantages: Less space requirements than granules and raw herbs, easy to digest, more shelf stable compared to raw and granule.
Disadvantages: Very limited ability to customize, some patients cannot take alcohol based tinctures, glycerine tinctures spoil easily.
Advantages: Require little space compared to raw herbs, customizable, simple to assemble (large grained granules like Legendary Herbs), decent shelf life, consistent product and potency.
Disadvantages: Requires ventilation for assembly, powdery granules are difficult to work with.
Liniments, Patches, and Plasters
Advantages: Pre-made topicals can be useful to have for skin conditions and injuries, can be given to patients to take home and use when needed.
Disadvantages: Many patches have undesirable ingredients such as petroleum derivatives. Liniments and plasters range from weak to effective depending on the brand.