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Herb businesses: get big or get out???

Hello fellow plant people,

I am so curious what small and very small businesses are doing in regards to the good manufacturing practices and compliance with them. Some of the requirements are totally doable, labeling, tracking, keeping records. But the analytical testing? This in a nut shell is a tremendous barrier to starting a company.

Perhaps I am missing something. I have found it very difficult to find applicable information in plain English. A lady who is head of an herb network association today told me that really small companies are not likely to be working within legalities and that outsourcing manufacturing is the best route. I find this extremely discouraging in many ways, not least of which is the geographical biodiversity of herbal medicines and the spirit too…

It seems the choices for starting an herb business are 1) work outside of the law, 2) outsource, 3) stick with other products and source them from big companies rather than growing them…

Can we please talk about this? If folks are uncomfortable disclosing in a public forum please contact me privately.

~Learn about naturally caring for your skin with the wild flair and passion of the green Earth~

Replies to this topic

  • admin
  • kiki

Hi VH!

You are right, it is a very important topic and a very complex one. The most important thing is not to be discouraged. My impression is that most herbalists take their work seriously and are willing to make the best efforts to protect their customers and run their business with integrity. 

The GMP standards are tough to live up to. Make sure you study them accurately and speak to larger companies in your area about how they have managed getting up to speed with the new laws. 

I know people don't want to talk about it too much. Fear comes up. But my hope is that we can deal with it reasonably and together as a community so that in the future we can all come together and provide a unified understanding of our practices and where/why/how we set our standards. That way, leaders in our community can advocate for changes in policy based on what's true and reasonable.

Thanks for posting your question. Please keep asking. I would suggest companies such as The Herbalist in Seattle (they have a poppy swap store) or Red Moon Herbs in NC. They are mid-size companies who have to be in compliance and are run by lovely people who I am sure would love to help. I think Red Moon has some info on their website as well.....

Good luck!

~bring people herbs~
  • mysticfarms
  • mysticfarms

I'm mostly familiar with the GMPs for cosmetics and find them to be fairly straight forward, but what category would herbal treatments fall under?  Dietary supplements? Where can I find a copy of these GMPs?  In looking, I'm finding mostly drugs or costmetics.  I'm looking at branching out into more herbal products, but need to study this information first.

  • admin
  • kiki

Hi MF!

We have a link here in our Terms and Conditions area of the site.

  • mysticfarms
  • mysticfarms

Thanks Kiki, thats no light reading!

Thank you VioletHerbs for bringing up this subject.  This is why I came to PoppySwap...because I was looking for more information on how to grown my business.  Part of this growth for me involves learning how I can legally run my business because I have a lot of business plans for the future.  I wish more business owners responded to this post because it's so important!  Admittedly I didn't think too much about the legalities when I first started but now after learning more about business I feel that it is important.

I contacted a herb business that manufactures their products close to where I live and was pretty much told that I needed to sell someone else's products and that I couldn't have a home based business.  i was really discouraged and that was why I turned to PoppySwap and other Herbal community websites to get some help.  Unfortunately I haven't gotten a lot of information this way either and find it really disappointing that we aren't talking about this. 

One of my big issues has been labeling my products.  At first I just put whatever not knowing really what i should be doing but now understand that the FDA does have labeling regulations that I should be following.  From my understanding, any product that is to be applied to the skin and is external use is considered a "cosmetic" and the FDA has a whole section on their website about labeling for cosmetics. 

For internal products (tinctures, extracts, syrups...etc..) these need to be labeled according to the FDA regulations for dietary supplements.  included should be the words, "dietary supplement", as well as nutrition facts, and a FDA disclaimer...among the basic label information. 

In addition to labeling, the whole GMP's seems daunting for me.  I get my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and have been told by others that we can get the analysis certifications from the companies we purchase herbs from.   Keep track of batches and having a numerical system to track all of this is another step in creating Good Manufacturing Practices that I feel are reasonable things I can do in my business.  As far as testing the final batches - that's another story and one in which I don't know how a small home based business owner can afford. 

Please share your insights, comments concerns ladies.  This is a wonderful community that has much to offer and I wholeheartedly agree with everything VioletHerbs has talked about and hope you'll speak up on this important issue!!

  • Meadow Walker
  • Meadow Walker

Hello friends and fellow members at Poppy Swap,

I'm waiting for Azul to set up the store, but I thought in the meantime, I would discuss my herb business, the success and failures. They come and go. First, let me say this- you have to love this business, put your whole heart in it, expect disappointment, you have to love herbs, love what you're doing. It's a lot like raising a child- you give your all, and then you have to let go. Same with the herb business.

I don't mind discussing my business. It's culinary. That's what I sell. I work the farmer and green markets during the spring and summer months. In my area we cannot sell dried herbs for tea or herbal cosmetics, anything taken internal. I can sell fresh bouquets of herbs, herb plants and any crafts made from herbs.

Because I am an herbalist and certified master gardener, I know a great deal about guidelines insofar as labeling and what the FDA guidelines are. I would like to expand the business, but I must stay within the regulations of my state.

I want to encourage everyone to do what they do best. If it's cosmetics, then research this completely. If it's culinary, and you wish to make teas and speciality items, contact a health department and ask about certification to produce the products.

We all operate within the rules and regulations for our own benefit and the safety and well being of our customers.

Herbs are a passion with us, and I encourage each of you to hold onto this. This community is a wonderful forum, and I can feel the love and commitment from each of you. Find your place in the herb business and do your best. And never let go of your dreams.

Blessings to all,



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