How to Choose the Best Herbal Supplement

Author: Melissa  

Understanding Labels: Choose the Best Herbal Supplement


“Just eat the plant”.  Pharma Botanica founders Paul and Melissa Gribble have been saying this for over 21 years.  That is the unique foundation of their successful Australian herbal medicine company.


They are the only Australian company that exclusively uses 100% plants in all of their health formulations.   Even the capsules are made from Kale.


“Unfortunately herbal supplements largely contain Extracts not plants.  When you look at the label of an herbal supplement in a store, look for the words “Extract, Standardised Extract, Extract Equivalent.  When you see that on a label this means the product has been made in a factory, not from a plant.


Whole Herbs, which is the Pharma Botanica way, are pretty much what they sound like: The herb in natural form—leaves, stems and/or roots—is dried, then cut and sifted, then milled into a powder. Powders are either packed inside a capsule or sold loose so you can add them easily to a juice or smoothie.


“Since you’re consuming the medicinal plant, you get its full spectrum of plant chemicals, called phytochemicals,” says Paul. “That’s a good thing, because the herb’s phytochemicals work in synergy together, and we don’t always know how a single plant chemical performs on its own.  We share DNA with the plants, so your body recognises it and can absorb it effectively.”


Powdered extracts are made by soaking the herb in a solvent that is later evaporated. What’s left behind is a concentrated powder of one or some of the plant chemicals.  Some companies use harsh chemicals in the soaking solvent that can be found in residual amounts remaining in the extract.


The other problem is, If particular chemicals or constituents in a botanical are the only items of interest, then the botanical source might be immaterial. If all you want is the alkaloid caffeine, for example, it can be extracted from coffee, tea, Yerba mate, guaraná, or even synthesised. With an extract, you can’t really know what you are actually consuming.


It's comforting to know that in todays fast paced technological world, we can make a real difference to our health and well-being. It's often the simplest of things in life that are often the best. Nature really does provide the answers. It's always been there for us, and with Pharma Botanica it still is.


Bit of History


One of the strongest grassroots campaigns in the history of this planet resulted in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). The U.S government was faced, on one hand, with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration initiative to control and limit consumer access to dietary supplements such as herbs and vitamins. On the other hand, it was faced with public outcry against such limitations. During the months that this issue was being considered, U.S. congressional representatives received more mail from concerned constituents than they had received on any issue in history except for the Vietnam War.

The resulting act bowed to the will of the people by allowing the unrestricted sale of herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other substances such as hormones and amino acids—so long as medical claims aren’t made for these products by their manufacturers. In other words, a manufacturer may sell a product such as echinacea, which is useful against colds and flu, so long as the package doesn’t say it will cure colds and flu.

The same applies in Australia under the Therapeutic Goods Act of 1989.




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