Herbal supplements are not all made the same. You need to do a little research into what you might be taking before you commit to consuming it. The funny thing about human beings is that we find out about a remedy or new health solution and we assume that if we know the name of the herb or the medicine we are on the right track. However, not all herbal medicines are the same, as there are many different ways to prepare them. Check out your herbal supplement before buying it, is my sage advice on this important point.

Most Herbal Medicines Are Made from Extracts

Unfortunately, many herbal supplements mainly contain extracts not plants. When you examine the label of a herbal supplement in a store, look for the words, “Extract, Standardised Extract, or Extract Equivalent.” When you see that on a label, this means the product has been made in a factory, rather than from a plant. “Just eat the plant!”, this has been the catchcry of Pharma Botanica founders, Paul and Melissa Gribble, for more than 21 years. Pharma Botanica is the only Australian manufacturer that exclusively uses 100% plants in all of their health formulations. Even their capsules are made from healthy kale.

Do You Know What You Are Actually Getting?

Another issue pertaining to extracts, is that if particular chemicals or constituents in a botanical are the only items of interest, then, the botanical source might be immaterial. If all you want is the alkaloid caffeine, for example, it can be extracted from coffee, tea, Yerba mate, guarana, or, even, synthesised. With an extract, you cannot really know what you are actually consuming.

Whole Herbs Are Best

Whole herbs, which is the Pharma Botanica way, are pretty much what they sound like. The herb in natural form – leaves, stems and/or roots – is dried, then, cut and sifted, and, then, milled into a powder. Powders are, either, packed inside a capsule or sold loose, so, that you can add them easily to a juice or smoothie. “Since you are consuming the medicinal plant, you are getting its full spectrum of plant chemicals, called phytochemicals,” says Paul. “That’s a good thing, because the herb’s phytochemicals work in synergy together, and we don’t always know how a single plant chemical will perform on its own. We share DNA with the plants, so, your body recognises it and can absorb it effectively. Powdered extracts are made by soaking the herb in a solvent that is later evaporated. What’s left behind is a concentrated powder of one or some of the plant chemicals. Some companies use harsh chemicals in the soaking solvent, which can be found in residual amounts remaining in the extract.”