Preparation of Herbs

October 11, 2016
by Pharm Tao

Crude herbs need to be prepared with certain procedures before they can be used.  Because herbs are natural products, they need to be cleaned and processed to be stored for a long term.  Some special processing methods are used to detoxify certain herbal ingredients, and to change the effects of certain herbs.

Objectives of Processing Herbs

  • To clean herbs, make them easier for storage, and to preserve their effects.
  • To facilitate the administration of herbs.
  • Detoxification: to reduce the toxicity or side effects of certain herbs.  For example, certain processing methods can reduce the toxicity of wild aconite root.
  • To enhance the efficacy of herbs.  For example, to improve the pain-relieving effect of corydalis tuber, the herb can be processed through stir-frying with vinegar.
  • To change the properties of herbs.  For example, processed rhubarb has reduced purgative effects than unprocessed dried rhubarb.

Processing Methods for Herbs

General processing methods:

  • Cleaning
  • Grinding
  • Slicing

Processing with water:

  • Washing
  • Rinsing
  • Grinding in water

Processing with heat:

  • Stir-frying
  • Frying with liquid adjuvants (vinegar, honey, wine, ginger juice, etc.)
  • Toasting
  • Wrapped baking

Processing with water and heat:

  • Steaming
  • Boiling
  • Dipping (in boiling water)
  • Fermentation
  • Crystallizing/powdering

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