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Unstandardized Extracts

Unstandardized Extracts

Posted by Ryan Wade on Oct 29, 2021

A Focus On the Details

In 2010, we released RAW Pine Pollen to the market. This, along with our Pine Pollen Tinctures, were our first two products.

Within a year, we added a 10:1 concentrated RAW Pine Pollen extract. This, too, was a first.

Generally speaking, there are two types of extract powders: Concentrated extracts and standardized extracts.

Concentrated extracts are represented by an extraction ratio—how many times the original herb has been concentrated. A 5:1 extraction has been concentrated 5 times (5x). A 10:1 extraction has been concentrated 10 times (10x).

Standardized extracts are represented by the level of a certain compound present in the herb. Standardized extracts are common with Medicinal Herbs, where the level of polysaccharides are standardized. As an example, our Chaga Extract Powder is standardized to 30% polysaccharides. When targeting a very specific action or benefit of an herb, a very specific compound (polysaccharides are a large group or class of compounds) will be standardized.

Examples of these targeted compounds:

  • Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) Root can be standardized for ß-Sitosterol;
  • Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) Root can be standardized for Eurycomanone;
  • Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) can be standardized for Astragaloside IV.

Concentrated extracts and standardized extracts both come with their own costs and benefits.

Concentrated extracts, by their very nature, are full and broad spectrum extracts, meaning they contain everything present in the plant. The Phyto-Therapeutic value of a plant does not lie in a single isolated compound, but in the complex interplay of all the compounds present in it. Concentrated extracts offer just this.

Yet, often a targeted action is the main goal, and thus a standardized extract is preferred.

  • ß-Sitosterol is highly recognized for its beneficial actions on prostate health, specifically for managing Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). However, in unextracted Nettle Root, levels of ß-Sitosterol are too low to offer any Phyto-Therapeutic value.
  • Tongkat Ali, while more of an Adaptogenic herb than strictly a Pro-Androgenic herb, is used by most for its effects on testosterone levels—that is, as a Pro-Androgenic. Eurycomanone has been identified in numerous scientific studies as the major compound present in Tongkat Ali that is responsible for its ability to significantly increase testosterone levels. Thus, isolating Tongkat Ali to Eurycomanone raises its Phyto-Therapeutic value to the majority of the people that are using the herb.
  • Astragaloside IV, one of the numerous Astragalosides found in Astragalus Root, performs a very unique action in the herb's ability to promote longevity: It lengthens (to put it very simply) the lifespan of DNA by increasing levels of the enzyme telomerase. Telomerase repairs telomeres, the end caps of chromosomes which shorten each time a cell is replicated and is an indicator of cellular age. As Astragalus is taken as a longevity tonic, standardizing the herb to Astragaloside IV makes sense.

Too often, the same hubris at fault in much of Western, allopathic medicine is replicated in herbalism. This is the hubris of reductionism—nothing exists in isolation. And the Phyto-Therapeutic value of plants is no exemption.

Within Chinese medicine, there exists a continual, unbroken recorded history dating back over 2000 years. In this recorded history, the use of specific plants—specific herbs—has been refined. The understanding of how these plants work within the body has become more sophisticated and more nuanced (moving from the spiritual to the scientific) over time, many of the applications of them—what they have been used for and are used for now—has remained the same.

To offer our customers all the advantages of concentrated extracts and the targeted actions present in the isolated compounds present in standardized extracts, we combine the two together. In doing so, we maximize the Phyto-Phyto-Therapeutic potential—the benefit—of the herb for our customers. This comprehensive approach is found in:

Melding Tradition with Contemporary Research

Here at RAW Forest Foods, we find importance in both the tradition of herbalism and in what can be verified through science—through contemporary research. This importances informes our approach in crafting products. In selecting herbs, extraction techniques, and building formulas. Beginning with the tradition, we verify through the scientific literature.

In the long history of using Adaptogenic and Tonic herbs in traditional, indigenous practices of medicine (such as Ayurveda in India or Classical Chinese Medicine in China), herbs were always used as concentrated extracts. That is, as broad, full spectrum extracts. We embrace this tradition—and include what can be gained through isolated and standardized extracts.

Ultra-Pure Unstandardized Extracts

From Making a Tea or Soup to our Unstandardized Extracts

Our ability to concentrate herbs has grown exponentially. In the past, soups and teas were used to extract and concentrate herbs. Now, through combinations of hot water and alcohol extractions, combined with spray drying, we can concentrate herbs 100’s of times. Our Elevated Tongkat Ali contains a 200:1 concentrated extract.

For the most part, concentrations are within the 5-10x range (5:1 — 10:1). Our original Pine Pollen Extract Powder was a 10:1 extraction.

Several years ago we developed a second Pine Pollen Extract Powder, which moved the concentration from 10:1 to 50:1. This is our Ultra-Pure Unstandardized Pine Pollen Extract Powder. Shortly thereafter, we took this same technique and applied it to Nettle Root. These are incredibly pure—Ultra-Pure—extractions.

In the industry, most concentrated extracts are made by first making a highly concentrated extract known as a Chun Fen extract. Written as 纯粉, Chun refers to “pure” and Fen refers to Powder.

When orders are placed by herb companies to suppliers (those making the extracts themselves), the Chun Fen extract is diluted to the specifications asked for by the company placing the order. Most commonly, maltodextrin is used to reduce the concentration from 50:1 to 10:1 or 5:1. The majority of herb companies—and the vast, vast majority of consumers—are not aware of this. Though a company may be completely unaware of this with the products they offer, their ignorance does not mean it is not happening.

Similarly, some type of inert starch will always be present in extract powders.This is due to the manufacturing process and is completely unavoidable. Anyone claiming otherwise is either misinformed or is acting in bad faith. Again, most companies are not aware of this. Labeling is not required by the FDA. We include this information in our packaging, as we are firm believers in full transparency.

Chun Fen, Ultra-Pure extracts are much more expensive to produce than those extractions of lower concentrations. Which makes sense, ultimately less herb—fewer raw materials—is required in their production. With our concentrated extracts, we selectively offer them as Ultra-Pure Unstandardized Extracts (currently limited to Pine Pollen, Nettle Root, and Cistanche).

As we keep a very close relationship with the workshop producing our extracts (which allows us to offer these small batch, highly concentrated products), we are able to offer herbs in lower concentrations which are not produced for the mass market, and are thus not produced using the above mentioned process of “watering down” the extraction using fillers.

In Practice: Our Ultra-Pure Unstandardized (Chun Fen) Extracts

Ultra-Pure Pine Pollen Extract Powder

We exclusively offer Pine Pollen Extract Power as an Ultra-Pure Unstandardized Extract:

Ultra-Pure Nettle Root Extract Powder

We offer two types of Nettle Root Extract, standardized to 45% ß-Sitosterol and as our Ultra-Pure Nettle Root Extract Powder. Each has their own specific application. Our Ultra-Pure Nettle Root Extract Powder is available in:

Ultra-Pure Cistanche tubulosa Extract Powder
Ultra-Pure Black Ant (Polyrhachis vicina Roger) Extract Powder

* This article was first published on February 12th, 2019, and was rewritten and republished on October 29th, 2021.