What is a liquid herbal extract?
A liquid herbal extract is a concentrated solution made by extracting (pulling or "washing") the herb's chemical constituents out of the inert herb fiber (cellulose) with a solution of alcohol and water or glycerin and water. A good liquid herbal extract should optimally preserve the aroma, taste and biological activity of the herb from which it is made. Vanilla extract is a commonly known liquid herbal extract.
Are extracts made from fresh herbs better than ones made from dry herbs?
Many people assume that a fresh herb extract is superior to a dry herb extract, but this is not necessarily true; it really depends upon the unique biochemical, biophysical and energetic properties of the specific herb being extracted. While some herbs do indeed make a superior extract when extracted while still fresh and succulent (e.g., Shepherd's Purse, Corn Silk), there are also many herbs which make a superior extract when extracted after the herb is dried (e.g., Hops, Grindelia). Also, some herbs are best extracted when semi-dried (e.g., Saw Palmetto), or fermented (e.g., Wild Cherry, Sweet Clover). Some are overly active when fresh and must be dried and aged one year before use (e.g., Buckthorn, Cascara Sagrada). For thousands of years people have been using thousands of different herbs. While some of these herbs are used fresh, the vast majority are used in their dry form. Remember that each herb has its own unique properties and therefore must be treated accordingly. There are no universals when it comes to herbal handling and extraction.
What is the purpose of alcohol in liquid herbal extracts?
Alcohol is the best food-grade solvent for extracting and preserving many of the naturally occurring herb constituents that are poorly soluble in water.
The pharmaceutical-grade organic alcohol used to prepare our liquid extracts serves three specific functions. First, alcohol is the only edible solvent that will extract and preserve many of the naturally occurring herb constituents that are poorly soluble in water, such as essential oils, resins, balsams and many alkaloids. Second, alcohol is an excellent natural preservative, which maximizes the shelf life of the extracts. Third, alcohol is a great carrying agent, which facilitates the absorption of the herb's constituents into the bloodstream.
How much alcohol is in liquid herbal extracts and how much alcohol am I really consuming?
The amount of alcohol in individual liquid extracts can vary from 20% to 90% depending on the herb being extracted and its content of alcohol and water-soluble constituents. For example, to fully extract Cayenne's pungent resins and orange-red pigments require at least 80%. A Cayenne extract made with a lower amount of alcohol will contain smaller amounts of Cayenne's resins and pigments, and therefore will be of lower quality than the higher alcohol extract.The amount of alcohol you consume in a dose of liquid extract is actually very small. For example, taking 30 drops of Echinacea liquid extract (alcohol content of 45% to 50%) amounts to consuming 1/65th of a can of beer or 1/85th of an 8-ounce glass of wine. Also, if you mix those 30 drops of Echinacea liquid extract into 2 ounces of water, that mixture would contain only 0.59% alcohol.
How many drops are in a one-ounce bottle of liquid herbal extract?
The number of drops in a bottle of liquid extract will vary depending on the viscosity (thickness) of the extract. For example, one ounce of Herb Pharm's Goldenseal liquid extract contains 1,243 drops, Echinacea liquid extract contains 1,184 drops, and Marshmallow liquid extract, which is very viscous, contains only 1,000 drops. In general, most extracts fall within the range of 1,000 to 1,300 drops per ounce. This is equivalent to 25-32 individual doses per bottle.
What is the proper dosage of liquid herbal extracts for children?
Unless otherwise noted, all doses are for adults, but Clark's Rule can be used to convert the adult dose to a child's dose. Some extracts are not suitable for children. Consult your doctor for advice.
Clark's Rule Divide the child's weight (in pounds) by 150 to get the fraction of the adult dose to give to the child.Example: For a 50 pound child give 50/150 (or 1/3) of the adult dose. Therefore, if the adult dose is 30 drops taken 3 times per day, the child's dose will be 10 drops taken 3 times per day (not 30 drops taken 1 time per day). Some extracts are not suitable for children. Consult your doctor for advice.
What is the best way to take liquid herbal extracts?
You should always put liquid extracts into water or juice for consumption. Taking them straight from the dropper may cause a burning sensation in the mouth and is discouraged. Mix the prescribed number of extract drops into 1 to 2 ounces of water unless the label directs otherwise. You can also add the drops to warm tea (not piping hot) or juice. Certain herbs, because of their stronger action, require more water. For optimal results, sip the mixed drops so you can savor the extract's flavor and aroma. Although you may not always like the taste, it contributes part of the therapeutic effect of the herb. Always follow label instructions. Some products require more water or have other special instructions for use such as our Soothing Throat Spray.
Can I give Herb Pharm herbal extracts to my pets or other animals?
All of Herb Pharm's products are specifically developed for human use. For high quality herbal pet supplements, we suggest Animal Essentials, and the Animals Apawthecary line of herbal tinctures they carry. Animal Essentials' products are formulated specifically for the health needs of pets and other animals. They can be found online by clicking here, or reached by phone at (888) 551-0416, M-F, 7:30am to 4:30pm, Mountain Time.
Can I evaporate away the alcohol in liquid herbal extracts by mixing the extract drops into hot water?
A small amount of the alcohol can be removed this way but most of it will stay intimately mixed with the hot water and will remain so even if the water is boiled. That's because alcohol and water are extremely difficult to separate once they have been mixed. While adding extracts to hot water will not eliminate their alcohol, it can, in some cases, actually damage the extract. Many extracts are heat stable (e.g., Goldenseal) and adding them to hot water does no harm. However, other extracts are damaged by heat (e.g., Valerian) and can be weakened by adding them to hot water. Also, essential oils found in certain extracts (e.g., Lemon Balm, Chamomile) will be at least partially vaporized by hot water. Here you are left with a compromised extract, but the alcohol remains. If an extract is directed to be taken hot to increase its diaphoretic (sweat-inducing) action, it should be added to hot water that is not too hot to drink.
What is the shelf-life of Herb Pharm's products?
In general, the shelf-life of Herb Pharm's products ranges between three and five years. The product's dosage form (alcohol-based tincture, glycerin-based tincture, capsule, etc.) impacts a product's shelf life. Alcohol-based tinctures normally have a five-year shelf, alcohol being an excellent natural preservative. Glycerin-based extracts and capsules typically have three-year shelf-lives.
The majority of our products are imprinted with a "Best By" or "Exp" (Expiration) date on the bottom of the retail package.
On two-ounce and larger bottles of our liquid herbal extracts, and on all liquid herbal extracts manufactured prior to April, 2013, a batch number and manufacturing date are printed on or near the bottom or side edge of the label or on the bottom of the bottle. The first six numerals represent the batch number. Following the batch number is a combination of four alpha-numeric characters. For example, after the 6-digit batch number you might see "4M02." These four characters represent the manufacturing date and are interpreted as follows: the first number "4" represents the year of manufacture (2014), the letter is for the day of the week it was manufactured (Sunday = N, Monday = M, Tuesday = U, Wednesday = W, Thursday = R, Friday = F, Saturday = A), and the last two numbers, "02", are the week of the year (02 is the 2nd week of the year).
For best results, store Herb Pharm products in a cool, dry place away from heat and light.
Most liquid herbal extracts contain constituents that tend to precipitate out of the solution (separate) if they are left sitting on a shelf or in a medicine cabinet without regular shaking. This is a normal occurrence and does not affect the quality or safety of the product. You may see this precipitation as little specks or flakes floating in your extract, a coating on your dropper, or as a tiny layer of sediment on the bottom of the bottle. This may appear to be a different color than the extract. This can happen in as quickly as a couple of weeks. Please make sure to shake the bottle vigorously before use to help these plant particles get reabsorbed into the extract solution.