Dried parts of medicinal herbs cannot be stored indefinitely. Most of them need to be renewed every year. The older the medicinal herbs are, the more they lose in quality. But there are exceptions here too.
For example, the alder buckthorn must be stored at least one year before use. P. montana, pheasant’s eye, and other Ranunculaceae are poisonous, but when they are dried the toxicity gradually decreases and disappears.
Dried herbs must be well packed and stored in a dry, frequently ventilated place. On the other hand, some herbs should be kept hermetically sealed.
The major factors for spoilage of medicinal herbs are moisture, sunlight, unhygienic, and abrupt changes in temperature.
Insects and bacteria attack dried herbs, so it’s important to keep them completely dry, airtight, or wrapped in a vacuum.
Тhe smaller the package, the less likely the herbs to be destroyed and weakened. For example, packing of 2-5 grams of one herb would consume faster and thus retain useful ingredients, unlike herbs packed in a jar of more than 20 grams.
Improper packing, drying, handling and storage of herbs are major factors in the distrust of medicinal ingredients in a particular herb.
The more sensitive the medicinal herbs are, the more important they are to be properly packed. Flowers, leaves, and other delicate organs of the herb should be kept in a clean metal box, hermetically sealed, previously coated with thick paper in black or dark blue color. If the herb is not needed to be transported, or is for a short period of time, it can be packed in paper boxes or bags.
If it is in industrial quantities, the roots should be packed into larger ones and the seeds into small bags of clean cloth. Small household quantities should be stored in black and rustic vessels.
Herbs that are rapidly changing medicinal ingredients like pheasant’s eye and Secale cereale should be kept whole and not in powder. They should be packed in dark glass, porcelain, clay or metal containers sealed with wax. Before closing, place the phosphorus pentoxide, anhydrous gypsum оr silica gel in the container to absorb residual moisture in the air.
Herbs in powder form can be destroyed much faster than herbs in full form. Тherefore, they should be made in powder form immediately before use.
Moisture is one of the causes of herb decay. It is therefore advisable to put the pre-picked herbs to dry as soon as possible, dry them thoroughly, and pack them properly. If the herb breaks down from moisture, it will start to smell like ammonia or it will start to show unusual appearance.
Light affects most dried herbs. Herbs like Violets, rose, linden when exposed to light lose their natural color and whiten. In addition to visible damage, they can also lose valuable ingredients. Therefore it is necessary to protect them with thick opaque paper when packaged.
Air is another factor that can be detrimental to dried herbs. Here are oxygen and ozone, then water vapor and ammonia. Light, elevated temperature and humidity promote oxygenation under the influence of oxygen in the air.
Heretic oils and resins change their composition very quickly if they are in contact with light and air for a long time. They lose the smell and color, so they no longer give the desired effects.
The heat of 30 to 40°C changes the chemical composition and useful ingredients of the herb. Аromatic oils lose their value because at high temperatures, they gradually lose their herbal ingredients.
Sudden changes in temperature can cause water vapor to build upon the inside of the container and then water droplets cause the herbs to start spoiling.
Low temperatures are a great way to preserve herbs, as they hinder the growth of microorganisms and insects. This is not the case in essential oils where the cold can cause a change in beneficial ingredients.
Living organisms such as bacteria and enzymes can cause invisible damage to the naked eye. mold is a common contamination of most herbs that contain sugars and starches on which fungal compounds develop.
Worms and insects most often attack the roots of herbs. Not always herbs are attacked by insects. It only happens for certain years and then disinfection is necessary.
It can be concluded that the healing properties of an herb are influenced by many factors. You can’t make a good cure from a bad medicinal herb. And the drugs are important to be of good quality and to be effective. So be careful about who you buy from or how you are preparing the medicine.
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Source: Dr. Jovan Tucakov-Lecenje Biljem