Herbal Supplement Processing
Herbal supplements are processed in a variety of ways, depending on the most beneficial process for individual herbs. Some herbal supplements are sold as herbal powders or botanical powders and do not specify if they are a Botanical Extract or Standardized Extract. In that case, the supplement is exactly what the ingredients list, and the herb has not gone through any chemical processing or alterations. There is no real way to define which processing method produces the best kind of herbal supplement; it is all a matter of opinion.
For those who truly want to supplement their diets in a true "natural" manner, their preference would most likely be to purchase herbs that are "raw" (unaltered dry forms of specific plants/plant parts), rather than standardized or botanical extracts. Those who prefer the raw forms of dried herbs (whether powdered or encapsulated) generally believe that plants were nature's way of providing the human body with all the vitamins/nutrients needed for survival, and if the herb is scientifically altered in any way, it is not being used in the way nature intended.
The Difference Between Standardized
Extracts and Botanical Extracts
There are many different ways in which herbs may be processed to generate "standardized extracts" and "botanical extracts." The difference between these two processes may also be questioned as to which is "better" or "stronger." Because these are two different processes with different results, in a way, it is like comparing oranges to orange juice. Both are good for the body, and both contain high amounts of Vitamin C, but the juice may contain more Vitamin C than eating the actual orange. On the other hand, eating an orange also provides other beneficial nutrients like the fiber that would not be equal to that in the glass of juice.
Standardized Extracts are processed by scientifically isolating the active constituent desired from a plant. This scientific procedure ensures that the finished product reaches a specific percentage of the desired constituent. Standardized Extracts should always show the name of the constituent that has been isolated and its percentage, i.e. Milk Thistle (80% Silymarin.)
Botanical Extracts are processed by scientifically eliminating the non-beneficial parts of a plant, then continually processing it to reach a ratio showing the amount of actual plant processed vs. the actual amount of the beneficial finished product. (For instance, Alfalfa Leaf 4:1 means that four pounds of alfalfa leaves were processed to produce one pound of finished powdered herb. In plain English, this would mean that Alfalfa 4:1 is 4 times stronger than the raw herb powder.)