The careful drying of herbal medicine

Herbal medicine uses natural sources as a possible source of drugs. More than 80% of people worldwide relies on it for some part of primary healthcare.  Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and Kampo medicine drive increasing demand for roots, fungi, leaves, fruits, bark, or seeds. As fresh ingredients are not always available, carefully dried medicines sell at a premium price. Farmers and traders of medicinal plants often turn to freeze drying technology, which holds the promise of preserving the essence of the medicine.

Herbal medicines, why looks still matter

Practitioners of herbal medicine prefer to see, touch, taste and feel the ingredients before they prepare the medicines for treatment. One of the reasons for this is that there are often certain rituals associated with the extraction of the functional ingredients from the medicine. In addition, government control over the quality of herbal medicine is limited. So far over 11,000 medicinal plant species were identified. Although the World Health Organization is trying to improve control over the quality and use of raw materials, there is no international consensus on the topic. Depending on the regulations applying to foods and medicines, a single medicinal plant may be categorized as a food, a functional food, a dietary supplement, or a herbal medicine in different countries. This lack of clarity makes it easy for cheap surrogates to enter the market.

Adding value to herbal medicine through your drying process

When you want to sell herbal plants, berries, seeds in whole or as parts, your freeze dryer will look different than when you process your product into herbal powders. In the first case, the qualities of your product will be easier to verify by your customers. Your process will be similar to other premium food drying processes, as you go through screening, washing, peeling and cutting and slicing steps before you distribute the product on the trays of a vacuum chamber. For powders, adding “freeze dried” on the label of your capsules or tablets is recognized to add value by some. When you are producing powders, you will typically pre-process your herbal medicines so that you can distribute your product as granules on the trays of a vacuum chamber.