Are dried herbs as beneficial to health as fresh herbs?

Yogi Cameron Alborzian
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Consider an image of two towels. One towel is completely dry, while the other is soaked in water. Most people would probably agree that one isn't automatically more beneficial than the other, for a dry towel would be better for removing moisture from the body after a shower but a soaked towel would be better for placing on the forehead of someone who has a fever. The different conditions of the towel are useful in different situations.

Similarly, certain herbs may be best administered as dry herbs in some situations, but as fresh herbs in others. According to Ayurveda, each of us has an individual constitution and therefore benefits from a highly individualized relationship to herbal medicines. This includes whether we benefit from certain herbs in a dried form or in a fresh form. For example, ginger root is used in Ayurveda in a variety of different medicinal interventions. It is ideally used in its fresh form for people with a lot of air and/or fire in their system, but ideally used in its dried, more concentrated form for those with a lot of earth in their system.

In some cases, some herbs must be taken in a dried or fresh form exclusively, which of course is determined by the traditions associated with its use.
Henry McCann, DAOM
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Herbs can come both in dried and fresh forms, although which is more beneficial really depends on the herb. Some herbs are better taken fresh if available. For example fresh mint generally has more of the essential oil that makes it effective than dried mint, especially if the dried mint is very old. Some herbs however should only be taken dried. The Chinese herbs Stemona and Pulsatilla are both irritants when taken fresh but not when dried, so only the dried forms are used.

If that wasn't complicated enough, sometimes the fresh and the dried varieties of a single herb work slightly differently. In Chinese medicine fresh ginger and dried ginger are both used, but each has a slightly different function. So, the world of herbal medicine is wonderfully complex! The best recommendation before taking any herb for medicinal purposes is to check with a licensed health care provider, especially one who has professional training in herbal medicine.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.