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What is a Standardized Herbal Extract? It is not a Herb!

What is the difference between a "Standardized Herbal Extract" and a "Herbal Extract"? There is allot of confusion between the two terms "standardized herbal extracts" and "herbal extracts".

A "herbal extract" is sometimes also referred to as a tincture, or liquid herbal extract. This is a preparation where a whole herb is steeped in alcohol, water or a combination.

A "standardized herbal extract" is a measurable marker substance that is extracted from the herb. This marker may be an active ingredient, or just one that is easily determined, but often, it is a compound that has been used in scientific research. Sometimes the wrong marker chemical is identified and used as the "active" ingredients. For example, St Johns Wart is usually measured for hypericin, though it is now thought that hyperforin is the more active substance.

These products have generated both controversy and confusion among consumers and professionals. Unfortunately herbal manufacturers have done more than anyone to cloud the issue with new jargon and proprietary names, In fact standardization means different things to different people. The word "extract" is also confusing, since this term traditionally is associated with fluid extracts, which are highly concentrated tinctures made from the whole plant.

Is a Chemical a Herb?
One well-known manufacturer tells us in its consumer literature that in standardized extracts "active compounds are natural compounds found in an herb that is proven to be responsible for its healthy benefits." Morphine is from opium, but it is not a herb! Citric acid is not an orange, and isoflavones are not a soy bean! An active compound is in fact an isolated chemical, and no longer belongs to the plant kingdom, but to the molecular world. Unfortunately, cheaper brands, like those routinely available now in pharmacies, corner stores and even airports, are usually standardized, yet do not contains whole herbs.

Many herbal supplements contain "standardized herbal extracts" which is the chemical market that has been extracted using solvents such as acetone. These chemical derived compounds may contain residues which themselves could act as toxins on the body. "Standardized herbal extracts" are normally listed as : Blueberry Leaf Extract, Green Tea Extract, Bilberry Extract or Grape Seed Extract.

Herbal-Medi-Care does not use standardized herbal extracts, as we believe that it is best to use the whole herb. There are hundreds if not thousands of active ingredients in the whole herb that have benefits researchers still do not fully understand. A herbal extract is an isolated component of only one of these compounds present in the whole herb.

Disadvantages of Standardized Herbs;
Thousands of natural compounds and co-factors in the herb are lost.
This may reduce their effectiveness, broad scope and subtle effects, and eliminate compounds that could be essential and valuable.

Standardized extracts may use solvents or acetone to extract the active ingredients (leaving residues) then destructive heat to evaporate them. Their nature is closer to pharmaceutical drugs than herbal medicine.  They may be less gentle, with a greater tendency toward side effects.

Confusion and errors occur regarding just what is the active ingredient or substance that is used as a marker for standardization. For example, St. Johns Wart is usually measured for hypericin, though it is now thought that hyperforin is the more active substance.

Products may contain only one isolated ingredient, the remainder of the product being an inert filler and not the rest of the plant.

Only a small number of plants are standardized. If different standardized and traditional whole herbs are used together, the one may overshadow the other or have unpredictable results.
Herbal-Medi-Care Herbal Supplements.
 


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