Understanding A MediHerb Label

Understanding the ratios of extracts, tinctures and tablets

MediHerb product labels provide detailed information that is instrumental in assessing the quality and potency of the herb(s) in the product. The botanical name, the part of the plant used, extract ratios, milligrams of the extract used, quantification of active or marker ingredients and even the raw herb equivalent are all addressed on MediHerb labels. To someone new to using professional-quality herbs, all this can seem a bit daunting.

What do all the numbers mean? In order to answer this, it’s best to cover a brief overview of how herbs are made into different forms, either liquids or tablets.

Liquid herbal preparations: Extracting the phytochemicals from the cellular matrix of the plant into a liquid medium by using a solvent system.

Solvents can be water, alcohol, (most commonly a combination of these two), wine, glycerin, vinegar.

Teas – Infusions steep for 5 – 10 min
- Decoctions simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Maceration – most commonly used commercial method.
– Immersing and soaking herbal material in a liquid solvent.

Cold Percolation – A unique extraction process developed by Kerry Bone
– Solvent percolates through the herb material in a column at a specified rate.
– End result is a highly concentrated fluid extract.

Ratios – how to tell the strength of a preparation

A simple analogy to start with is making a cup of tea – you can make it weaker or stronger simply by adding more or less water. What you are actually doing is adjusting the herb to solvent ratio. An average cup of tea is one part herb to about 60 parts water (the solvent), which could be written to express the ratio as a 1:60
(one in sixty).

For scientific applications, Herb:Solvent ratios are expressed using the metric system of kilograms to liters (Kg:L) or in smaller amounts grams to milliliters (g:mL). The cup of tea example would be 1g of tea to 60 mLs of water. Even though most teas are infused using 2 grams (average teabag) of tea with 120 mLs of water, the ratio would still be expressed as 1:60, not 2:120.

The difference between tinctures and fluid extracts:

Tinctures are usually made by maceration and start at 1:3 and can go to 1:10 or higher – the majority of the market produces at 1:5 to 1:10. The higher the ratio, the more dilute.

Fluid Extracts are highest quality when made by cold percolation – 1:1 or 1:2 ratio (very concentrated)

A good analogy for a fluid extract is to think of espresso coffee! A generous amount of finely ground coffee beans are compressed and hot water (solvent) penetrates through the grinds, resulting in a very concentrated coffee drink. Because tinctures are more dilute than a fluid extract, a higher dose is needed to equal 1g of herb.

This usually means more alcohol is also ingested.
2 mL of a 1:2 (extract) = 1g of herb
5 mL of a 1:5 (tincture) = 1g of herb
10mL of a 1:10 (tincture) = 1g of herb

Dry herbal preparations (aka ‘solid dose’)

Dried herbs must be milled into a powder to put in capsules. ! Once powdered, the raw herb material can sit for months before being sold and processed. Over time, the herb can loose active principles through oxidation.
Large numbers of capsules are often needed to achieve therapeutic doses. ! Active principles are harder to absorb, especially roots and woody plants.

Heat and/or chemicals are often used to process the herb from either a dried state or a liquid preparation, which can denature important ingredients which alter the potency. MediHerb uses a proprietary process to make high potency tablets out of their liquids extracts without the use of damaging heat or chemicals.

Tablet potency – how ratios indicate this

The first number in a tablet ratio still represents the herb and the second number will always be “1” because the solvent has been removed. If we use the example from the label for MediHerb’s Andrographis Complex, you’ll note the formula uses Echinacea root 4:1 extract. This is to say the starting material has been
concentrated 4 times.

The formula uses 125 mg of this 4:1 extract, so if we multiply 125 mg by a concentration of 4 we see it is the equivalent of 500 mg of starting material – the dried herb equivalent in each tablet.

The Andrographis herb in this tablet is a 10:1 concentration and there is 100 mg of this, therefore, multiply 100 mg x 10 = 1,000 mg (1 gram) of Andrographis dried herb equivalent per tablet. Using this simple algorithm, you will be able to calculate the potency of any herbal product if the manufacturer discloses their extract ratio strength and the number of mgs. of the extract used.

Variations in the amount of alcohol used with different herbal extracts

The percentage of alcohol in an herbal extract is determined by the chemistry of the herb. If the phytochemical constituents are more water-soluble, then a minimum of alcohol is used, primarily as a preservative. If the constituents are more alcohol-soluble, such as resinous ingredients that will not extract well in water, then a higher percentage of alcohol is needed in order to extract these principles from the plant matrix into the liquid.

MediHerb has done extensive research on plant phytochemicals and uses only as much alcohol as needed to extract the vital principles as determined by the nature of each individual herb.