Learn more about how extracts work — including what extracts are, how they work, and how to choose the best extract according to concentration and potency.
What Are Extracts?
Herbal extracts “pull out” the chemical constituents of medicinal herbs to create a potent product.
An extract is made up of all or some of the following components:
- Made with a solvent base or other extraction methods
- Made with dried or fresh herbs
- May contain the roots, leaves and flowers
- Offered in pure form, not capsule or tablet
- Preserved for long-term use
The different types of extracts are:
- Tinctures—made with alcohol
- Glycerites—made with vegetable glycerin
- Herbal vinegars—made with vinegar
- Powdered herbal extracts—dry form
How do Extracts Work?
Extracts are made with a single herb or herbal mixture to deliver a certain therapeutic benefit. The herbs are typically extracted or steeped for 4-8 weeks, creating a more potent solution compared to a shorter extraction process.
Extracts come in liquid form or powdered form and capture the herbs when they are their freshest and most potent. Extracts offer a high concentration of the minerals and alkaloids of plants, which provide the physical and physiological effects of herbs.
How to Choose an Herbal Extract
When looking at herbal extracts, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I want to use the extract for?
- Which type of extract will be best for the herb?
- Do I plan on using it internally or topically?
Potency and Concentration:
- When looking for the most highly concentrated extract, look for a product that used the active constituents of the herbs in ratios found in nature