Growing Herbs Commercially and Dangers of Ephedra
Answered by: Richters Staff

Vicki Szlek writes
I would be interested in knowing which herbs lend themselves to being grown commercially.

There are hundreds of herbs that are being grown commercially today. Culinary, medicinal and aromatic herbs are being grown in the field and in the greenhouse depending on the crop. Bulk dried herbs and most fresh-cut herbs are grown in the field while most potted herbs are produced in greenhouses.

Recommended books (all available from Richters):

Growing Your Herb Business, by Bertha Reppert;

Herbs For Sale, by Lee Sturdivant

The Potential of Herbs as a Cash Crop, by Richard Alan Miller

Profits From Your Backyard Herb Garden, by Lee Sturdivant

We also recommend the transcripts from the first Richters Commercial Herb Growing Conference held in Goodwood, Canada, on October 26, 1996. The transcripts are available from Richters.

I read also that ephedra caused death in some people who took it. Is this true? Why?

We are not aware of any deaths attributed to the use of ephedra. The active constituent, ephedrine, stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and produces a lasting rise in blood pressure so it could be dangerous to those who are suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or thyroid trouble.

There is a certain notoriety associated with ephedra. First, ephedra products have been over-"hyped" in herbal weight-loss programs. Second, unscrupulous hucksters have promoted ephedra as a "legal high" owing to its stimulant properties. Third, there have been a few cases of criminals chemically converting ephedrine into amphetamine, a controlled drug. This notoriety is unfortunate because it has led to bans on the herb in several jurisdictions thus removing an important and effective medicinal herb from the market.

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