The Benefits of Plant Extracts and Why We Choose to Use Them
Not all natural healthcare products are created equal, and when it comes to the inclusion of plants and herbs, much comes down to how the naturally-sourced and active ingredients are produced and mixed. This is why we choose to use plant extracts in Good Green Stuff and Kids Good Stuff.
Why use plant extracts?
The medicinal properties of plants are now more recognised than ever because of both scientific and anecdotal evidence of their many health benefits. Phytochemicals are natural compounds found in plants such as herbs, vegetables and fruits that work with nutrients and fibres to support health-promoting functions and activities in the body.
The extraction process separates the bioactive compounds, such as resveratrol from Japanese knotweed, from the rest of the plant structure, leaving a highly concentrated version of the plant composed primarily of the therapeutic constituents.
How do you make plant extracts?
In order to make plant extracts, the herb is first broken-down using temperature, pressure and/or a variety of solvents. Then, inactive components such as water and cellulose are discarded. The active components are reassembled in approximately the same ratios as the original whole plant but typically in much higher concentrations. This leaves a highly potent version of the plant that elicits greater effects than the equivalent weight of the plant in its original, natural form.
What is a plant extract ratio?
The strength of herbal extracts are expressed as a ratio of dry plant material to final extract quantity. In pharmacy, this is otherwise known as the drug extract ratio (DER). Extract ratios are expressed in the following format:
X = weight of dry plant material
Y = volume or weight of final extract (depending on whether the extract is liquid, or dry/solid)
Essentially, this means that the activity of the dry plant material (X) is found in the equivalent quantity of the extract (Y). For example, if the plant extract ratio of aloe vera is 200:1, this means that every 1mg of aloe vera plant extract, is equivalent in strength to 200mg of aloe vera dry plant. That is a lot of health packed into just 1mg of extract!
What are the benefits of using plant extracts?
Other benefits of using extracts include extended shelf life, since they are less vulnerable to degradation, and consistency; the percentage of the active ingredient is standardised to provide the same high-quality extract ratio every time.
The concentration of the active ingredient provides increased efficacy (resultant health benefits) from a smaller input of the ingredient. This allows us the capacity to include additional, and higher levels of, nutrients and plant extracts in our products which then work in synergy to provide a wider range of, and more effective, benefits supporting whole body health.
When it comes to plant extracts, less really is more.