When herbs and plants are mixed with a solvent to extract their herbal properties, a herbal extract is produced. Typically, alcohol, glycerin, vinegar or water or their combinations are used as solvents to preserve the properties of the herbs. Herbal extracts can be made from both fresh and dried herbs depending on their maturity time and active state. The extracts can be from the plant, its seeds or fruits.
Herbal Extracts for Neutraceutical, Pharma & Cosmetics industries
Herbal Extracts help improve the beauty and overall health of individuals. They strengthen the immune system, restore nutritional value reduces blood sugar levels, maintain blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, treat asthma and constipation, have excellent antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties and also treat grave diseases like Alzheimer and cancer. They repair damaged skin and hair cells, reduce early ageing, brighten the skin, fight tooth decay, whiten teeth and can be relied upon to treat any beauty issues. Also, they enhance the texture and taste of food.
Ethics play an important role in the manufacturing of herbal extracts. The companies need to be ethically right and provide the consumers with natural products and proper labelling clearly mentioning the composition, instructions and risks if any. Herbal extract manufacturers have to meet statutory requirements that lay rules for their production process, product composition, quality testing, storage and distribution.
Why Herbal Extracts and Not Raw Herbs and Plants?
Some herbs and spices are definitely consumed directly but they may be low on absorption. Whole herbs are in their most natural form and consuming them entirely also means consuming all the nutrients that the plant or herb can provide. However, there may be very partial and slow absorption with indigestible fibres and phytochemicals that are not active in whole herbs.
Herbals extracts are beneficial essence extracted from herbs with the help of solvents. The herbal extracts are more absorbable and can be easily digested when consumed as the phytochemicals are separated from the production structure of the plant.
Benefits of using Herbal Extracts
- Have strong medicinal properties to cater to the entire body’s needs and also fight against terrible diseases.
- The body absorbs the extracts better due to the presence of the active component of the herb.
- The results desired are much quicker than while consuming whole herbs.
- The extracts of different herbs can be easily combined to create beneficial formulations.
- They are much easier to consume
Use in Different Industries
Herbal Extracts in Cosmetics
The cosmetic industry widely uses herbal extracts for their products. People both in rural and urban areas prefer to use organic and herbal cosmetics. Herbal extracts have been used extensively in treating or improving hair, skin, teeth and the overall body appearance. They prepare damaged skin cells, reduce wrinkles, whiten teeth, stop ageing and make you look good. All this without exposure to harmful chemicals, hence it is more acceptable for routine use and herbal extracts have established their efficacy and virtue.
Herbal Extracts in Food Industry
Spice and herbs are in high demand in international cuisine for aromatic flavours, taste, natural preservatives and seasoning. This allows the food and beverage industry to create new tastes. The customer’s focus has moved towards natural herbal extracts and flavours. China, India and Vietnam lead this segment with exotic herb and spice extracts.
Herbal Extracts for Medicine
Herbal medicines have innumerable health benefits and have been in use since centuries in different countries. Herbal extracts are a part of Ayurveda treatment. Modern day medicine is inspired by herbal medicine and related research and studies of herbal combinations and their effects on the human body are being encouraged.
How to Extract?
Not all herbal products are equal. The quality of the raw materials and the production techniques impact the purity and composition of the final extract.
Products at Bioveda follow international standards and ensure all specifications are adhered to. The extracts are thoroughly tested and then approved. This makes us one of the most sought-after herbal extract manufacturers.
Types of Herbal Extracts
The extracts are classified basis different aspects. Some of their classifications are based on:
The solvent used:
The chemical properties of the different solvents react are unique and attract different phytochemicals of the plant or herb and are used accordingly for different purposes. Water, Glycerin, Alcohol, Vinegar are some of the most common solvents used during extraction
Based on the Extraction Process:
Liquid: Extracts prepared by soaking herbs in water, alcohol, vinegar, glycerin or a combination of some or all of these ingredients. The liquid solution pulls all the benefits of the herbs and can be used directly or by diluting the solution. It is faster in action even with a small amount but may have a strong pungent taste.
Alcohol may be considered the best herb solvent and preservative; however, the quantity of alcohol needs to be kept a check on. The alcohol amount may vary for different herbs. Also, the alcohol component of liquid extracts should be checked before consumption as it may affect your overall health.
Glycerin extracts are sweet to taste and a hit among kids. It is a sweet medicine and can be easily fed to the kids without taking in their tantrums. It is advisable to consult your child’s paediatrician before offering any herbal extracts or supplements to your child.
Oils are very commonly used for beauty and medicinal purposes. They are very often used in aromatherapy or massages and only a few drops work the magic. Essential Oils are obtained from fruits or aromatic herbs through the process of steam distillation.
In this process, fresh plants and herbs are put in boiling water and let the steam pull the oil from the plant. The steam is cooled and since water and oil do not mix, the essential oil can be collected easily.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and should be diluted with carrier oils before use. Carrier Oils or Base oils are fatty derivatives of a plant usually seeds that help dilute essential oils prior to application. The most commonly used carrier oils that can be used with essential oils are coconut, almond, jojoba, olive, sesame, sunflower and many more.
The aroma triggers our sense of smell and rejuvenates our body and its senses. Essential and therapeutic oils can be selected basis on the skin type and what it aims to achieve.
Consumption or Ingestion of essential oils is suggested only on the recommendation of a certified physician.
Powdered Herbal Extracts:
Powered extracts are very commonly used in medicines packed in either capsule or sold as loose powders to be added to food and drinks. The powder is extracted by soaking the herbs in a solvent and then evaporated, leaving the concentrated powder. Powder extracts are among the most used herbal extracts. One should always check for the safety of the solvents used for extraction while buying herbal extracts.
Fatty or Liposomal Extracts:
Phytochemical compounds from the plants or herbs are mixed with fats or liposomes and then put in a capsule. They have good absorption and cause no irritation.
New Herbal Product Formation:
There is known to be more than thousands of plant species, each having unique medicinal properties. While there is data and literature evidence for some plants, a lot of them lack literature and their composition and benefits are unknown. There is a need to study these plants or herbs, to understand their nutritional value, benefits and effects on the human body. Herbal medicine has been always influencing modern day medicine and the success rate of herbal medicines is higher than modern medicines.
Natural herbs or their extracts have been used since time immemorial to heal wounds, treat diseases and enhance beauty. There has been continuous research and discovery of new products to improve the lives of the people globally.
There is a huge demand for organic and herbal products. Derivatives from natural sources are widely accepted and hence there is a rising need for developing new products extracted from plants or herbs. The value of the extract depends on the active ingredient of the herb or plant.
Best Ways to Use Herbal Extracts
One very useful tip is to read the instructions on the package very carefully before applying or consuming the product. Also, it is always recommended to consult your physician in case you are suffering from some disease or are prescribed on regular medications.
The dosage and type of extract depending on the herb, the body’s requirements and the desired effect. Liquid extracts are best consumed with water and hot or cold beverages.
Shelf Life and Storage
The herbal products generally last between three to five years. However, it may vary basis its composition and extraction process. Since alcohol is a good preservative, the alcohol-based extracts may last for five years while glycerin based extracts typically have a shelf life extending to three years. To maintain their constituent’s quality, it is better to store them in a cool, dry place and make sure the bottle is properly sealed after use.
The manufactured and expiry dates should be checked on the bottles always while purchasing and if using after a long time. Also, the storing procedures are at times mentioned on the labels. Some extracts may need to be shaken regularly to avoid decomposition of the constituents.
Scientific Research related to Herbal
There is not much scientific evidence available supporting the treatment of diseases, however, these herbal extracts have been used since decades and their positive effects have been experienced and observed by people worldwide. This is one of the main reasons for increasing demand for herbal extracts. There has been observed a self-care motivation in people for using herbal extracts. It is more basic personal informed decisions rather than on clinical research and studies.
The studies lack consistency. While some studies show efficacy, some illustrate otherwise. The safety risk ratio of the herbal extracts is not much clear as there is a difference in the theoretical and practical accuracy of the application and results of herbal extracts. Water extracted Arjuna Bark has been found to significantly reduce atherogenic lipids and increase HDL-C levels.
There have been several discussions on the pros and cons of the use of herbal extracts but the result has never come to any conclusion..
Side Effects of Herbal Extracts
Though herbal products are safe to use, however it is always recommended to keep in mind your allergic history. If applied topically, a skin patch test is advisable. Apply a small amount of extract on a small patch of skin and check if it causes any inflammation, rashes or any other reaction.
Some herbal extracts cause gastrointestinal disturbances, bleeding, dizziness, dry mouth or throat, rashes, confusion, fatigue and allergic reactions. Though some may face certain issues especially if ingested orally, there are no grave consequences reported on consumption of herbal extracts.
If you are suffering from diabetes, BP or any other disease or are on any prescribed medicines, kindly consult your doctor before consumption of any herbal supplements. It may interfere with medicines like aspirin, warfarin, anti-depressants or foods and drinks like caffeine, alcohol etc.,
If you are sensitive to herbal medicines, it is better to avoid them and rather take in whole herbs. Consumption of herbal extracts is not recommended for pregnant and nursing women.
Difference between Herbalism and Ayurveda
Indian and Chinese herbal systems are stronger and based on more complex chemical energetics. Herbal extracts are derivatives from plants and herbs and help in achieving better health, body and skin. On the other hand, Ayurveda is pure medicine, a traditional old form of therapeutic science and medicine. Ayurveda is not restricted to herbal medicines. It also consists of medicines made from different materials and includes other forms of healing
Herbal Medicine is also known as Phytomedicine. It usually contains the extracts of plants, their fruits and seeds in the form of powders or liquids. Though widely prevalent in India, China and other Asian countries, herbal extracts are increasing very fast attention by the west. Herbal extracts are influenced by different countries traditionally and through innovation in this field. Ayurveda, on the other hand, has its roots in India and is widely practised there.