Local markets of Kerala sell fresh Ayurvedic herbs, usually harvested from the forests by tribal people. People from the villages also go into the forests to collect medicinal plants.
The medicinal herbs that grow in the forests possess higher quality than the herbs cultivated and harvested. This is because of the difference in temperature, soil texture, relative unpolluted environment and the surroundings in which they grow.
The herbs are usually dried. They are not preserved and have shelf life ranging from less than a week to a year. Herbs older than a year are not good for preparation of medicines.
Buying herbs from local markets in Kerala in most cases gives herbs of the highest quality. There are however black sheep in the herd, that would spoil the good name of Ayurveda by selling substandard herbs.
It is essential to know the local names of the herbs. It is also possible that same herb has different names at different markets in Kerala. Scientific names or even an image of the herb may not be sufficient.
It is imperative that you have the assistance of a person with local knowledge to purchase the right type of herbs.
Almost all grocery shops of Kerala sell Ayurvedic products like herbal soaps and shampoos.
The shops that sell herbs are called ‘angadi kada’. Angadi in the past used to refer to a village market. Pacha marunnu vyaparam (business of green medicines) is the board (in Malayalam) that you can expect to see before such a shop.