Updated: Feb 25, 2019
As the name suggests whole herbs or botanicals are herbs in their most natural form – leaves, stems and or roots, usually dried. Whole herbs contain all of the constituents of the plant, as determined by nature and exist in the least processed form. Whole herbs have been used for hundreds of years by many cultures and are the originator of modern medicine.
Herb extracts are substances that have undergone processes in presence of some solution: Alcohol, chemical or liquids in order to extract the active ingredients from the whole herb. The intent behind extracts is to guarantee that the consumer is getting a product in which the chemistry is consistent from batch to batch.
No Genetic Modification
Many of the vitamin and mineral supplements in the market are processed using chemicals in laboratories and do not come directly from their natural sources. They are made to replicate natural ingredients, but in many cases are not recognized by the body in the same way. For instance, Cordyceps Sinensis (Tibetan – Yarsagumba) a magical known to cure a number of health problems, in its whole form sells at as high as 40,000 $ /kg but most of the capsules claiming to be “natural cordyceps sinensis” found in the market are produced using genetic profiling which is nowhere as safe & effective as the natural version.
Moreover, because supplements (including herbs) aren’t considered drugs, they aren’t put through the same strict safety and effectiveness requirements that drugs are. So, all the drugs you can buy, even without a prescription, must be proven safe and effective – but dietary supplements do not.
Whole herbs are more effective in the long run
While scientists can isolate many constituents from a herb and discover how particular chemicals may act in the body, they inadvertently remove or overlook components that may contribute to the activity of the whole herb. Concentration on one or two chemical compounds misses the concept that the “whole is often greater than the sum of its parts”.
Whole herbs are safer
Due to concentrating in a few substituents, the plant chemical ratio is often out of balance in modern medicine and standardized extracts which can lead to problems and side effects. Whole herbs on the other hand, are safer and well tolerated as they work intelligently with the boy and keeps it from overacting towards a certain chemical in the herm.
If the whole herbs are better, why do extracts and other forms of supplementations exist?
One reason is that people might find going for extracts and capsules, tempting as they are more convenient to consume, tasteless and often have a big brand associated with it. Whereas whole herbs, can require an extra step such as “boiling in water before consuming” and are not always pleasant to the tongue.
But mainly because supplements can be patented and the big corporations love that. Whereas, something coming from nature cannot be patented. The supplement industry is worth $28 billion per year in the United States alone and there would be no money for the medical mafia if they were to just sell you whole herbs. That’s the sad truth.
It really is a lifestyle choice and let’s face it, when you are trying to get healthier, why would you add potentially toxic and allergenic additives into the mix. When it comes to herbal medicine, we feel it is the only way.