Herbs for Health: The Best Medicinal Herbs

Herbs can heal in a variety of ways


| November/December 1998



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Ginger Tea

When Plants Become Pills

Herb capsules don’t grow on trees—they’re the result of a process that can produce up to 1,000 capsules a minute.

Supplement makers purchase raw herbs from suppliers around the world. They monitor suppliers closely, conducting inspections, checking soil and climate conditions, and watching the harvest. Some buy whole herbs and grind them into powders at their factories; others purchase herbs that are already ground. In ­either case, they’re shipped in sealed containers and quarantined at the factory until scientists analyze each shipment to ensure purity, potency, quality, and identification. Then they inspect the material by hand and track batches of herbs using a computer to follow the plant throughout manufacturing.

Ground herbs are funneled into empty capsules by a large machine that can process up to 1,000 capsules a minute. The machine fills and closes the capsules, which are inspected again before bottling. Then they’re packaged, shipped, and ready to go home with you.

Research Methods

In Herbs for Health, you’ll come across breaking news in herb research. Here are a few terms to help you put this research in context.

Clinical trials: Experiments performed on humans.

Control: A group of research subjects that undergoes the same experiment ­as the study group except for the procedure being tested.





elderberry, echinacea, bee hive

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