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Questions and Answers


Why nothing smaller than 4 oz bottles?

What about those Herb Strength Ratios?

Why liquid extracts?

Why are double extracts worth the extra difficulty?

How safe and effective are herbal tinctures?




    Q - Why nothing smaller than 4 oz bottles?

A - There are a lot of herbal products that act quickly and you feel results from them in hours or even minutes after consumption, but many health benefits from herbs may take six months or more before being fully realized. If I sell 1 or 2 ounce bottles like many extract retailers do, at least two bad things are going to happen. First the shipping cost per ounce is going to go way up. Next, most people will try a new product until it's all used up and if they don't get results worth the cost, they may just give up on it. They probably don't understand that the herb they were taking may need six months or more of regular consumption to have a significant effect. Many good herbal extracts are being sold in one or two ounce bottles but they're not doing people much good because the real benefits may come only after months of regular, moderate use. Also, a lot of retailers are either making weaker products in their rush to get products ready to sell, or recommending low dosage amounts to make it look like that two ounce bottle is really concentrated. I'm trying a different way. My extracts are always seven weeks of alcohol extract plus two hours or more of hot water extract, and with the four ounce bottles you have enough extract for one person to experience at least the beginnings of the real potential of that herb if you take it in moderate doses every day until it's all used up.

Think of how healthy foods work. If someone of poor health hears that apples are good for you and decides to try them, but only eats one or two, they may decide that apples aren't really what they needed and look for something else. Apples, like any other healthy foods should be eaten on a regular basis for a long time, actually always. The same thing applies to the use of herbs. Find herbs with good reputations and try them, not just for a few days or weeks but for six months, at least four. If you think they're not working but the information you found on them seems reliable, maybe you're buying form the wrong company. Switch, get it somewhere else. Big health product companies sometimes get caught up in profit so much that they forget that they started out really trying to deliver good products at affordable prices but now, for the sake of increasing profits, they may reduce quality, so just because their advertising looks really encouraging for a particular product, that product may not actually be that good.

Don't give up. Staying healthy isn't as easy as it was 20,000 years ago when we only had to work about 20 hours a week to find all we needed to survive and be mostly comfortable, but there are ways to do it. It just takes patience and perseverance, and a bit of research.


Q - What about those herb ratios?

A - Most herbal extracts on the market have an herb to menstruum ratio for the product to help us determine how much herb and how solvent was used to create the finished product. For single extracts like tinctures or infusions, using dry herb, the ratios are normally between 1:4 and 1:7. An example of this could be Damiana tincture with a ratio of 1:4. This means that one part herb was used with 4 parts menstruum. A more specific description would be 1 ounce by weight of dry herb and 4 ounces by volume of alcohol. What if we made a tincture with some dry herb and then with the same harb material, or marc, made an infusion and mixed the tincture and the infusion together to make a Double Extract? It took me a bit of searching to find instruction on a blog concerning this technique or method, which is the one that I use to make my extracts. That instruction was that if a double extraction is done using the same marc the second number in the ratio includes both the amount of alcohol used for the tincture and the amount of water used for the infusion. If I made a double extract of Damiana instead of the single extract discussed above, the ratio would change from 1:4 to 1:8. This makes sense of course, but it could also cause one to think that this would be a very weak product when, in fact, it isn't. When I do an alcohol extraction it pulls out a lot of the alcohol soluable chemistry in the herb and only a small amount of the water soluable chemistry. I follow up with a hot water extract and get much more of the water soluable chemistry out, good stuff that would be thrown out with the marc if only a tincture was made. Double extracts are at least four times as difficult and time consuming as tinctures to make, which is why you will have a hard time finding them.


Q - Why Liquid Extracts?

A - Why Liquid Extracts? Herbal products come in lots of different forms such as pills, capsules, teas, etc. but I prefer liquid extracts and here's why. For the consumption of herbal products for health care purposes, alcohol and water extracts are the best at providing the herbal chemistry in their natural ratios. Pills and capsules are usually just ground up herb mixed with fillers. Some herbs are OK like that, for example Cayenne Pepper powder is easily digested and absorbed by the body. Many other herbs like Turmeric, Ginger, and Dandelion are OK in capsule form but others like Reishi and Milk Thistle aren't. Most of the really important chemistry in Reishi is bound up in the chitin which is an indigestible fiber. If you take a capsule of ground up Reishi your digestive system might absorb a very small amount of healthy chemistry from it but not nearly enough to do you much good. Our digestive systems are not made to digest products like wood or chitin and that stuff just goes right on through. Another less obvious reason is that some of the ingredients in freshly ground herbs start to degenerate as soon as they're exposed to air, especially if the grinding process produces much heat, and then this powder probably will be stored and maybe shipped to a different location before being encapsulated.


Q - Why are double extracts worth the extra difficulty?

The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia Reishi page :

      Due to its bitter taste, Lingzhi is traditionally prepared as a hot water extract product.[55] Thinly sliced or pulverized lingzhi (either fresh or dried) is added to a pot of boiling water, the water is then brought to a simmer, and the pot is covered; the lingzhi is then simmered for two hours.[citation needed] The resulting liquid is fairly bitter in taste and dark, with the more active red lingzhi more bitter than the black. The process is sometimes repeated for additional concentration. Alternatively, it can be used as an ingredient in a formula decoction or used to make an extract (in liquid, capsule, or powder form). The more active red forms of lingzhi are far too bitter to be consumed in a soup. While hot water extraction seems to be effective to target the polysaccharides, alcohol extraction is another method used to extract the triterpenes element of the Reishi.

      This excerpt helps to show why, for many herbs, to obtain all of the good chemistry in the herb for our use, it's necessary to do a double extract, one with water and one with alcohol. The polysaccharides are water soluble and the triterpenes, also called ganoderic acids in the case of Reishi, are alcohol soluble.


Q - Herbal Tinctures - How Safe And Effective Are They?

First, If you look in any Health Store with Herbal Extracts you'll probably see lots more bottles of herb powder in capsules or tablets than bottles of liquid extracts. That's because grinding up herbs and putting the powder in capsules or pressing it into tablets is a lot faster and cheaper than making good quality liquid extracts.
      Making good quality herbal extracts of the kind that I make isn't really expensive as far as the cost of equipment and supplies goes but it takes lots of time and storage space to do the work, and that's where part of the expense of a large scale operation would come from. There is some expensive equipment that can be used to speed up the process. A big company manufacturing herbal extracts may be able to pack fifty pounds of herbs and extracting chemicals, such as ethanol and water, into a steel container, seal it, put it under hundreds of pounds of pressure for a few days, and obtain a good quality extract, maybe better than mine, I don't know. I'm content with making my extracts in a much simpler manner, taking 7 weeks to finish the alcohol phase and then in the water phase, carefully heating the herb in water at between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of two hours to bring out the water soluble components.
      I've got 12 to 25 gallons of product going through the alcohol extraction phase all the time and I check each container almost every day, especially in the first couple of weeks of the process. I like it this way and I'm sure I'd be really uncomfortable in a fast paced “hurry up and get it ready to sell” type of process. That kind of process is the one chosen by business people whose top priority, no matter what they say, is to make lots of profit. I'm kind of OK with them making "lots of profit" as long as they're putting out good quality extracts but I really don't want to be focused primarily on profit. I'm even posting my recipes so anyone who wants to can make their own just like I do. In the meantime I've got extracts ready to go for anyone who needs them now.





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