Where do I find herbs?
This is a great question that I get quite often.
Note: As of September 2012 I am now selling a few of my formulas through my other business Kingdom of Basil on etsy.com. This is an experiment for now. I still highly, highly recommend working with a holistic vet before starting any herbals. I am happy to make special orders if you are working with a vet who recommends something but does not carry it, just have them contact me.
- The best is to find a local holistic veterinarian to work with. Not only do you get excellent herbs but you also get excellent advice.
I have my own herbal pharmacy and make most of the formulas I talk about from scratch. I know my herb sources, most of my herbs are from the companies Spring Wind and Mountain Rose Herbs. Both of these companies are very careful to only supply good quality, pesticide free, toxin free, and correctly identified herbs. Because I make herbal formulas from scratch I can adjust them for the animal I am making them for. Not all holistic vets make their own formulas but most have a good supplier of quality herbs and tinctures.
Pros – good quality herbs for animals, advice and support
Cons – may be hard to find in some places
- The International District in your city aka Chinatown can be a good place to find some hard to find Chinese herbals. I send all my clients to a local store in Seattle called Lucky An Dong for SanSheDan ChuanBeiYe. It is the best place to find it and it is cheaper than I can buy it wholesale. Most large cities have an international district. You can also often find other formulas in your local ID. There is a couple problems with buying in the ID. The first is that there is sometimes a language barrier unless you speak Mandarin and sometimes you can end up with the wrong product. The second is that many of these products may be high in pesticides or toxins because they are not tested as well (or at all) then herbs through other companies.
Pros – cheap, can find just about any Chinese formula
Cons – language barriers, quality of herbs, need to be near or in a large city
- Many herbs can be found online. My favorite place to send people is Amazon.com . They have many quality herbals available both Chinese and western although do not carry everything. Make sure to read the ingredients of the products and match them to what should be in the formula. In most of my herbal and supplements articles I have included a link to Amazon.com for that product if it is available. I choose my link based on what I feel is the best quality product available online. There are other places online that also sell herbals such as Modern Herb Shop. For artemisinin I always send people to Holley Pharmacy since I have used their product for years and know it to work and be high quality. Use some caution when buying online as not all companies are as reliable as Amazon.
Pros – easy, more reliable then ID, can be ordered from anywhere
Cons – not as high quality as custom made herbals, no ability to modify formulas
- Many cities have western herbal stores that can make up formulas or sell pre-made formulas. In Seattle we have The herbalist and Tenzing Momo and Dandelion Botanical where you may be able to find some of the herbals I recommend or similar products.
Pros – good quality herbs, easy to communicate with staff, local
Cons – may not be able to find what you want as usually are more western
- Sometimes western vets will be willing to order herbs for you. There are many companies that sell directly to vets. Here are a few.
Natural Path Herbs
Goldern Flower Chinese herbs
Dr. Xie’s Jing Tang Herbal
In addition I will sometimes sell my formulas directly to other veterinarians.
Pros – high quality herbs, right formulas, open up your vet to new options
Cons – more work to convince your vet to order herbals, may not be able to convince your vet
- It is possible to make your own herbal formulas. It takes time, access to ingredients and a good blender or grinder. I use a Blendtec blender to grind my herbs. It’s a powerful little machine that can get even my shells and heavy twigs and roots ground down to a powder.
Because of the risks of making an animal or a person sick from using herbs incorrectly the best Chinese herbal companies will only sell to practitioners. This makes it harder to get good quality herbs if you don’t have a veterinarian to work with. If you are looking to buy western herbs and make formulas yourself, Mountain Rose Herbs does sell to anyone. They do also carry some Chinese herbs that are used in western herbal practice but they are under the western names.
Pros – high quality herb formulas with some ability to modify
Cons- a lot of work, requires equipment and knowledge, hard to find suppliers for some Chinese herbs
Good herb hunting!