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Do you know what is in your health products?
With so much choice for herbal medicines on the market, it is hard to know which one is right for you. One important distinction between products, is whether they are standardised or in their whole herb form.
A whole herb is just what it is: a whole herb. The specific part of the plant which is responsible for its therapeutic properties is, usually dried and encapsulated, or processed and preserved in alcohol or another solvent.
Whole herbs contain all the constituents of the plant and have been used for hundreds of years and passed down through traditional practitioners.
They are a natural way of consuming herbs and usually contain less excipients.
Standardised products on the other hand contain isolated compounds/constituents that are responsible for the action of a herb.
They are not necessarily more concentrated than whole herbs, but they do maintain a minimum and specific potency of the active component of the herb, as it has been chemically extracted.
While scientists can isolate many constituents from a herb, they can inadvertently overlook other components that may contribute to the activity of the whole herb.
Consequently, standardization may concentrate one constituent at the expense of another potentially important one and change the natural balance of the herb's synergy.
Plants contain a complex combination of phytochemicals and have the unique ability to address several problems concurrently.
An example of a standardised product is curcumin, which has been extracted from turmeric.