"My experience teaches me that some drugs must be worked green, other partly dry, others are best when thoroughly dried, while others yet even become most useful after being aged to a certain extent. Thus, as examples, only green cactus, in my opinion, is of value. Freshly dried Iris versicolor is superior to the green, and Rhamnus purshiana improves by age." JOHN URI LLOYD (Eclectic Medical Pharmacist extradinaire)
I could not have described this dilemma better! Use a little common sense and this question may become much clearer. As John Uri Lloyd writes, it all depends. For starters, we all know, generally speaking, that fresh is usually better in the plant world, in all things connected with us and ingestion/digestion. This is not to say that there are not major exceptions to this rule, but on the whole, I feel you can't go too far wrong in using the freshest plants found near-by. Consider food found in the grocery store. The freshest produce will be found in the produce aisle. You will then often find dried versions of this same produce packaged elsewhere for more money expenditure, but debatable decreasing nutritional value. You will often find juice extracts of produce, frozen products of the extract and various other preserved representations of the fresh produce, almost all with decreasing levels of nutritional value and added expense for the consumer. This is very true for medicinal herbs as well, not only from the quality stand point, but from the economical one. I am continually flabbergasted at the high prices asked by the herbal merchants out there for their dried herb wares. I mean, it is almost like buying synthetic medicine from one's pharmacist! Outrageous! The wise herbalist will take careful stock and study of what grows near him/her and knows where to find and process these native plants. Never underestimate this valuable natural resource that is mostly there for the taking for every one! It has long been recognized by herbalists that the plants which grow nearby seem to be more potent for the healer than those that have to be traded for and come from long distances. When one buys these over-the-counter herbs, they are invariably dried to help preserve them for storage and long distance commerce. Drying is a useful tool, but it has its drawbacks. Know them.
Fresh plants tend to have high concentrations of moisture content which needs to be taken into consideration in the processing procedures. Ratios