This question ”Are Chinese herbs safe?” is legitimate, given that there are thousands of animal, vegetable, and mineral products used within Chinese herbal medicine. The short answer is “Yes!”. Chinese herbs are extremely safe in comparison to Western medicine, where pharmaceutical drugs are the third leading cause of death.
Some traditional substances are no longer used. For example, at one point in Chinese history lead and mercury were used as part of longevity formulas. Obviously, we now know that these elements are harmful and no longer use them.
There has been a lot of change in China over the past few of decades as its economy has grown dramatically, but unfortunately with very little pollution regulation. These changes could affect the medicinal herb industry, and I only dispense the highest quality Chinese herbal medicine preparations.
I purchase herbal products only from companies that do rigorous independent testing for pesticides and heavy metals, are GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified, and track their lots of herbs so that if there ever is a problem it can be traced. While these procedures do increase the expense of Chinese herbal products, they ensure that you would be getting the highest quality. I primarily use products from Evergreen Herbs and Blue Poppy Herbs (links go to information about their quality assurance processes).