Q: What forms do herbal products come in?
A: The most popular herbal products in America are capsules, softgels and tablets. Herbal teas, especially in teabags, account for a substantial amount of the herbs consumed in the United States. Herbs in liquid herbal extract form are also a popular way to ingest therapeutic herbal products. Finally, herbs are available in bulk form in some health and natural food stores.
Q: Which form of herbs offers the most therapeutic benefits?
A: The therapeutic benefits achieved by using herbs depend on a variety of factors. For instance, does the herbal product contain all of the active constituents in ratios found in nature, or have the constituents been altered? Is the herbal product fresh? What is the shelf life of the herb? Has the herb been processed in such a way to ensure that it will be effective when you are ready to take the product? Does the product require you to digest the herbs in order to get all of the benefits from these herbs? Is it convenient to take? Is it affordable? Does the product address the problem that you are trying to solve? Of all the available forms of herbs, liquid herbal extracts best address all of these factors. This is the reason that American herbalists recommend this form of herbs the most.
Q: What are liquid herbal extracts?
A: Liquid herbal extracts are herbs that have been processed in such a way that their active constituents (ingredients) are suspended in a liquefied medium, usually alcohol and water. If the alcohol is left in the formulation, an alcohol-containing extract is the result. However, once the constituents have been extracted, the alcohol in the extract can be removed using a heat-free process to produce alcohol-free herbal extracts. The alcohol-free herbal extracts are suspended in glycerin to make alcohol-free extracts or suspended in olive oil to create a liquid herbal concentrated extracts in softgels.
Q: Why are herbs in liquid herbal extract form preferable over dried herbs in capsule or tablet form?
A: The success of herbal products as healing agents is dependent upon how active their constituents (ingredients) are when you ingest them. For maximum therapeutic benefits, therefore, it is important to take herbs in the form that best captures and preserves their active constituents. Liquid herbal extracts achieve this, so they are the most therapeutically beneficial form of herbs available on the market today.
Most herbs in tablet or capsule form are ground months prior to appearing on store shelves. They lose many of their active ingredients both when they are ground and while they are in storage. Herbal tablets also contain fillers, binders and other materials necessary to compress ground herbs into tablet form. Tablets must also be dissolved by the body’s digestive system before the herbs can be assimilated. Herbal capsules tend to be better than tablets because they do not contain the extra manufacturing materials and they dissolve easily in the stomach. However, if the body is not digesting and assimilating well, the potential therapeutic benefits of herbs in tablet and capsule form diminishes because the digestive system must break the active constituents free from the fiber and cellulose. Herbs in capsule and tablet form also lose potency as they are exposed to oxygen (capsules oxidize more rapidly than tablets).
Herbs in liquid extract form, on the other hand, contain no fillers, binders, or “extra” ingredients so they are immediately assimilated into the body. Nothing has to be broken down or digested in order for the body to absorb them. In liquid form, the herbs are immediately available for assimilation into the bloodstream, glands and organs. Even a person with poor digestion and assimilation can enjoy maximum benefits from liquid herbal extracts.
Q: You say herbalists recommend liquid herbal extracts over other forms of herbs. Can you explain more?
A: Herbalists prefer liquid herbal extracts over other forms of herbs for four reasons: freshness, potency, absorption and formulation.
Potency: Herbalists have long recognized that potency is not about isolating a single “active constituent”. Potency results from the interaction of many constituents within each herb. Herbal products containing a full spectrum of bioavailable constituents promote healing as well as the maintenance of health. Liquid herbal extracts regardless of form, time and again, deliver more bioavailable constituents than any other herbal supplements.
Absorption: Experience has proven that liquid herbal extracts bypass the digestive process and enter the bloodstream rapidly. This makes them the most effective way for the body to absorb medicinal herbs. Once assimilated, the herbs start working in your body within minutes.
Formulation: Liquid herbal extracts can effectively deliver the healing power of several herbs at once. Clinical experience shows those herbal formulas, comprised of a combination of several herbs, produce better results than single herbs. In a formula, each herb is designed to support a specific body system in a manner that complements the action of other herbs, and the systems they support. Well-designed, time-tested formulations address the body’s complete healing needs.