Herbal Medicine has been used for many thousands of years and is the oldest form of medicine. Modern technology makes it possible to produce extracts of herbs, giving highly concentrated amounts of particular, active constituents. In such extracts, it is possible to give set percentages of certain nutrients.
Standardising extracts began in 1992, and was initiated by drug company researchers and academics. There have of course been valuable lessons, but the shift towards extracts is by and large, not driven by a clinical understanding of traditional herbal medicine. However, in most cases, we take the view (as do medicial herbalists), that the whole herb has greater therapeutic properties.
"The whole is greater than the sum of the parts - synergy"
Nowhere is this more true than in the herbal kingdom. Within each herb lies “biological intelligence” - hundreds, even thousands of nutrients (chemical compounds) can be found; so much so, laboratories are still a long way from identifying all of the nutrients in any particular herb.
Whilst each herb will have significant amounts of particular compounds known to be responsible for their health properties, the action of these nutrients will be enhanced and supported by the others. Many of these nutrients will also have their own particular healing role to play. Generally, isolating just the active aspect(s), renders this active part less effective because it is missing the natural, and essential co-factors.
Herbs also contain significant amounts of vitamins and minerals, and these play a particular metabolic role for the active nutrients.
There is a commonly held view, that (rare) adverse reactions are more likely with extracts because within each herb, are so called “buffers” that ensure the active constituents are well tolerated by your body. Whole herbs of course, also have a far longer track record having been used for thousands of years in their natural form.
In short, whole herbs are safer.
A Closer Look at Standardisation
We are often asked if certain products contain a certain percentage of a particular nutrient.
When it comes to whole herbs, there can never be a clear cut answer without turning to complicated, time consuming laboratory analysis that would run into many thousands of pounds, and would have to be repeated for each and every batch, and each and every harvest.
That’s why you wont see extremely specific nutritional assays when it comes to whole herbs.
This sort of analysis is largely the domain of cash rich, pharmaceutical companies; the gold standard of clinical analysis is thought to be one developed by PharmaPrint Inc and runs to £250,000 PER herb. (In the instance of whole herbs, this process would need to be completed for each and every harvest).
In comparison, a standardised product can give you set percentages. In such products, the active ingredient(s) is isolated and concentrated, and the synergistic elements are not included in the end product. Herbalists maintain that the natural medicinal balance is disrupted.
What About Genetically Engineered Herbal Extracts?
Researchers in India are currently working on genetically modified herbs; it is easy to see how this will play a big role in the herbal extracts of the future. Specific molecules will be altered, gene transfers made and then extracted; this will move us even further from traditional, and safe herbal medicine.
Traditional Time Honoured Harvesting to Superior Standards
An array of factors influence the final nutritional make up including soil conditions, the time of year, even of the day of harvest, weather conditions during the growth period, the processing of the final product, and any chemicals during cultivation (please note all Seventh Wave herbals are grown to organic standards, and therefore not exposed to chemical fertilisers etc).
What we can definitively say, is that due to superior growth conditions and harvesting techniques, all Seventh Wave whole herbs, will be naturally packed with the nutrients each particular herbal is traditionally associated with.
Industry Standards (or Lack of them) and Quality
It is important to note, that it is absolutely possible to standardise inferior raw materials! Many cheap herbals on the market are grown in poor conditions and processed in factories not to GMP standards; the fact that the label states "25% fatty acids" for example, does not in any way mean that the quality of the herbal is good.
It is somewhat ironic that there are no industry standards for these standardisation processes. A good example, Echinacea, can be standardised to echinocosides, polysaccharides or polybutylides; in many cases, no manufacturer really knows which approach is best. Even if two manufacturers happen to be in agreement which "marker" may be best, one might standardise to 5%, and another to 8%. Furthermore, the actual methods of extraction can vary tremendously from the harsh chemical approach to a natural, gentle method that protects the constituent being extracted.
In comparison, whole herbs are in a totally natural, totally balanced form, and as a general rule, offer far greater healing potential.
Ensuring Perfect Quality Herbals Every Time
The final processing of the Seventh Wave herbal range is carried out with meticulous care in the UK, in a Good Manafacturing Practice (GMP) assured establishment. As with all of our products, they are 100% additive free for maximum absorption.
To close, mother nature provides all of the nutritional co-factors which facilitate and enhance the action of each other, the health benefits of whole herbs are exactly as nature intended.
Whole herbs are just as they have been for many thousands of years, and just as if you yourself, had gathered these valuable herbs with care and consideration.
This article is written by our supplier 'Seventh Wave'