Background: The present review article provides an overview of the published
literature concerning microbial quality of medicinal plants and products and their decontamination
methods. It is important to analyze different aspects regarding the cultivation,
growing, harvesting, storage, manufacturing, and decontamination of medicinal plant products.
Herbal medicinal plants bear a massive microbial load leading to contamination and
mycotoxin, which needs to be considered, and properly controlled using suitable sterilization
and decontamination methods. Methods: The main focus of this review is on the definition,
advantages, disadvantages and applications of decontamination methods, particularly to
show that one must consider the characteristics of the initial sample to be decontaminated.
Results: The effects of various methods (ozone, plasma, irradiation) on medicinal herbs and
products treated for microbiological decontamination are dependent on factors related to
microbial load (i.e., nature and amount of initial contamination), herb/product matrix (i.e.,
complexity of chemical composition, physical state - solid or liquid) and treatment conditions (i.e., time, irradiation
dose, absence or presence of oxygen). In addition, it is important to accept some loss of the chemical compounds,
while decreasing microbial load to acceptable limits according to official herbal pharmacopoeias and
literature, thus ensuring a final product with quality, safety and therapeutic efficacy. Conclusion: The conclusion,
which comes from this contribution, is that herbal medicine has more contaminants than a chemically welldefined
drug, thus, good manufacturing practices should be followed.