Capsule herb quality.


From: "E K Sommer"
Subject: [Herb] Ground herb vs. extracts
Date: Fri, 3 Jan 2003 22:40:35 -0500

While listees are discussing dosages and outcomes, I'd like to interject a question about ground herbs in capsules vs. extracts (by this, I mean any extraction method from infusion or decoction to tincture or dry extracts).

My training suggests that ground herbs in capsules are not potent (with exceptions, of course); however, I can find no "research" on this, except personal experience, which pretty much supports the extract theory. I understand the cell-wall situation and the problem of breaking down the constituents, but I have heard at least one reputable herbalist say that constituents can be available through dried herbs-the question may be in what concentrations? I'm just curious about the group members' opinions!

(And I wonder how so many companies are able to sell ground up herbs in capsules!)

Ellie in Florida

From: "Aliceann or Scott"

Well, there's a lot that "depends" in ground versus whole herbs...such as source, methods of preparation and storage, and the ground or water in which the herb grows.

Also, as has already been pointed out, the herb is a vehicle for a relationship between gatherer and Spirit. Whether one is traditional Native American or an urban "never saw a live plant" type...this is a fundamental truth.

So, even with dispirited herbs (sorry couldn't resist), if the intent is correct and the condition is correctly assessed, there will be positive effect. If the intent is simply to treat the "symptom", results will vary and be less potent.

In most traditional hebal/life practices, students of the sages and wisdom keepers first begin their learning by watching, being among the plants in natural surroundings, and carrying/experiencing the whole plant or parts.

Sometimes, an amulet bag or ritual collection is made representing the connection between the plant and the creative force that brought plant and practitioner together.

So, I use fresh, whole, powdered, new and old herbs...determining amounts and potencies upon how they smell, feel, and taste. Methods of preparation vary greatly from being sprinkled on food, to use of capsules, decoctions, medicated massage oils etc. I do not use tinctures, although I respect their use under some circumstances. In Ayurvedic practice a draksha or medicated wine is used for treatment of dosha imbalances. These preparations often address needs of air and ether...nerve and movement of tissues in the body and mind.

If one seeks only the correct dosage, then the reasons for use of any herb and the healing or balancing effect will be missed. Watch where you obtain your herbs and ask questions about how they are stored and prepared.


From: Henriette Kress

> I'd like to interject a question about ground herbs in capsules vs. extracts

  • 1. powdered herbs are bottom of the barrel, usual. That means they're older than the rest of them. There's other problems with storebought powdered herb, too, like, is it the right herb? Is it adulterated, or, just how much wheat flour / potato starch / lactose / other "inert" cheap filler is in there?
  • 2. powdered herbs might have hung around as powdered herb for quite a while. If there's air, some constituents just oxidize, making the herb still weaker.
  • 3. most automatic capsule fillers put lots of air into that capsule. That's even _more_ oxidizing. Keep that capsule on the shelf for half a year, and we're talking pretty weak herb, when you get around to using it.

For full-strength capsules, either use herbs that don't oxidize, even as powder (for instance, uva-ursi leaf), or powder your own, from high-quality dried herb, and capsule by hand.

When you make your own capsules you can make sure there's as little air as possible in your capsule.

That is, no chunka-chunka sound as the herb mass slides back and forth in there, when you wave the capsule back and fourth - just solid powdered herb.

From: "Thomas Mueller"

>just how much wheat flour / potato starch / lactose / other "inert" cheap filler is in there?

Another drawback to using "inert" fillers in herb capsules, besides cheating the customer, is the danger of adverse reaction to the filler in case of food intolerance or allergy. For instance, potato starch could be quite hazardous to somebody allergic to potatoes, like me, and even a small amount of wheat flour can cause a serious reaction in some people with celiac disease or wheat allergy.

Another downside to capsules, in many cases, is the use of beef and pork gelatin, although some encapsulated herbs come in vegetarian capsules such as Vegicaps (nci).