Our body needs all the nutrients it can get, so everyone is encouraged to eat a proper diet. However, this isn't often enough because some people fall short of their nutritional needs, so they often turn to supplements such as whole herbs or herbal extract. The two are often turned into capsules, tablets, or powders, allowing people to consume them more easily.
Despite their reputation, whole herbs and herbal extracts are often compared to each other because some people think they‘re better because they're considered raw, while herbal extracts are processed. It also goes the other way around because herbal extracts are believed to be a concentrate of nutrients, which whole herbs aren't. For this reason, we'll weigh which is better in this article.
More about Whole Herbs
Whole herbs are the leaves, stems, roots, flowers, and seeds of plants. When you ingest them, you get the entire nutrients of the plants, which are often more than what you get from herbal extracts. Some herbs can surpass the nutrients found in herbal extracts. For example, the leaves of Echinacea offer more than what you get from the Echinacea extract.
Whole herbs are also better in terms of safety. While there are no reports of side effects, taking herbal extracts can cause a few to a few hundred side effects, depending on the extract. While a few people claim they're allergic to herbal extracts, there hasn't been any report of allergies to whole herbs.
More about Herbal Extracts
Herbal extracts are processed by boiling or steaming the whole herbs and filtering them. The process is done so that many nutrients, active ingredients, and volatile compounds are removed, leaving only the water-soluble compounds. As a result, the process makes them more potent than whole herbs. This can be especially useful for some people.
There are four primary types of herbal extracts, and these include:
Also known as tinctures, these extracts get their name from the liquid alcohol where they're kept. These might be one of the oldest ways of processing herbs in the world because there are records of them since the 5th century BC in China. It's also the healthiest way of processing whole herbs, especially if the liquid is organic.
They're also called herb powder and are often used as a convenient way of consuming herbs. They're also the easiest way to get the active ingredients of the herbs because the drying process doesn't alter the active ingredients. While they're processed, it's often done by adding flavors, colors, and drying agents. The agents are often used to keep the dried herbs intact, so they don't become crumbly.
These are the most concentrated form of herbal extracts and are often made from aromatic herbs. The process is done by extracting the aromatic compounds from the herbs, which are often volatile. While most herbs are used for their aromatic oils, some herbs are used for medicinal purposes.
These are also called liquid herbal extracts and are also known as herbal liposomes. They're created through a process of dissolving plant constituents in fats and mixing them with phospholipids to make them fat-soluble. The active ingredients spill over in the liquid, making them easier to process by the body.
What Should You Choose?
When deciding which one is better between the two, you should consider what you're using them for. If you're looking for a nutritional supplement, then whole herbs are the better choice because you'll get more than what you get from herbal extracts. However, herbal extracts are recommended if you need a more potent medicine. Since they're more concentrated, you'll need to be careful with them, or you can consume too much.
You should also consider consulting with a doctor or a nutritionist because they can give you a professional opinion on your best course of action.
Whole herbs and herbal extracts are often compared because they are made from plants. However, they're processed differently and often used for various purposes. Both are good, but it all boils down to your body's needs and what you're using them for.
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