The Price of Herbal Medicines

Herbs are not cheap but in some cases they are incredibly expensive. The justification is production distribution, packaging, marketing and profit. Since I originally wrote this article another level of expense has been added to those products now sold by pharmacies and healthfood shops, this is the cost of a Traditional Herbal Medicines Product License (THMPD), which can cost many thousands of pounds and lots of red tape to get. This licensing alone can add a large cost to an individual product, it also means that large companies who have bought these licenses are keen to get their money back and so also have to sell large amounts of product thereby affecting the supply of particular herbs. Echinacea purpurea is one herb that many many companies have got a license to sell, as there will be lots of competition between these companies to buy it wholesale the price of the crude basic product will go up as will the high street price. Here's a link to all the current herbal remedies that have been licensed. While the prices will go up the selection of over the counter herbs will drop dramatically as big companies cherry pick and only buy licenses for the herbs with most evidence based use.


The number of people who have to take a cut from a product bought from large high street drug suppliers, supermarkets or health food shops is large. Producers, processors, wholesalers and sellers all want their slice. This can make a kilo of dried St John’s Wort after processing cost the equivalent of £800/kg from one well known supplier (This is a product that sells for £10 for 50mls and contains a 1:4 tincture of dried St John’s Wort the equivalent of 12.5g per 50mls), this makes getting the correct dosage very expensive. Customers may try to save money by eeking out the recommended dose to a point that doesn't really amount to a useful effective dose, and the main effect is placebo. This is great for the company because it means that they make a good profit, they don’t harm anyone because they’ve turned the medicine into something that has very little pharmacological activity, and because of the placebo effect 1:3 people taking the medicine will feel a benefit. This denigrates herbal medicine and opens it up to becoming a quack occupation by groups that are absolutely opposed to anything but modern medicine. Seeing a herbalist means you get good advice, the right herbs, the correct dosage and products at a sensible price. Many herbalists source their tinctures and dried herbs from producers who only sell set tincture concentrations or dried herbal medicines to herbalists, some herbalists grow their own herbs. The only middle man is the herbalist who makes sure you get the correct herb, the correct part of the herb (You’d be surprised how much echinacea plant material is sold, when most of the evidence of traditional use has been with the root!) and most importantly the correct dosage. The cost of seeing a herbalist can easily be offset against the cost of buying expensive weak preparations from large high street chains that give very little if any useful advice. The high street shops want to sell as much of their prettily packaged rubbish as they can in a bid to pay themselves and the huge rents and rates that a prime high street position commands. Whilst people should have access to herbal remedies that they can treat themselves with surely they are better off seeking products and advice from people who know what they are doing. The herbalists are out there you just need to look. Try this link to find a herbalist near you.