Quality of herbal medicines: challenges and solutions

Complement Ther Med. 2012 Feb-Apr;20(1-2):100-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2011.09.004. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


The popularity of herbal medicines has risen worldwide. This increase in usage renders safety issues important. Many adverse events of herbal medicines can be attributed to the poor quality of the raw materials or the finished products. Different types of herbal medicines are associated with different problems. Quality issues of herbal medicines can be classified into two categories: external and internal. In this review, external issues including contamination (e.g. toxic metals, pesticides residues and microbes), adulteration and misidentification are detailed. Complexity and non-uniformity of the ingredients in herbal medicines are the internal issues affecting the quality of herbal medicines. Solutions to the raised problems are discussed. The rigorous implementation of Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) would undoubtedly reduce the risk of external issues. Through the use of modern analytical methods and pharmaceutical techniques, previously unsolved internal issues have become solvable. Standard herbal products can be manufactured from the standard herbal extracts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Drug Contamination*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Phytotherapy / standards*
  • Plant Preparations / standards*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Reference Standards


  • Plant Preparations