Understanding Full Spectrum

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Understanding Full Spectrum Standardized Herbal Extracts

“Full spectrum” is a term that is being kicked around a lot these days in the Nutritional Supplement Industry. Raw material suppliers and nutritional supplement manufacturers/marketers alike are seeking to convey a similar theme but are using the term in confusingly different ways. Let’s start with a definition. The term “full spectrum” generally means a complete and continuous sequence, range, or array of components sometimes arranged in the order of some varying characteristic. The varying characteristic may be light or sound waves, atomic particles or chemical compounds. In the Nutritional Supplement Industry, “full spectrum” almost universally refers to “the entire range of chemical compounds or constituents that are naturally occurring in a certain part of a particular species of plant.”

When a plant is made into an herbal product, though, the term “full spectrum” is used in a couple of different ways There are some companies that use it specifically to mean “not standardized”. This is based on the belief that somewhere in the process of standardization of particular marker constituents to produce a guaranteed potency herbal product, some of the constituents are either lost or shifted out of their natural proportion. For example, a nutritional supplement manufacturer may offer a “Standardized” line of products and a separate “Full Spectrum” line of simple powdered or macerated whole herbs. Limitations in existing herbal extraction technologies have engendered this “either-or” kind of thinking about full spectrum.

Now nutritional supplement manufacturers can have extracts that are both Standardized andFull Spectrum. At Draco Natural Products, we have taken a quantum leap forward with advanced new processing technology to produce Full Spectrum Standardized Herbal Extracts™, standardized to recognized markers, but giving you all the plant constituents in the balanced proportion that nature intended. Through extensive research in pharmacognosical processing technology, we have developed a method of extracting the full range of constituents from an herb, resulting in a product that is high in Total Active Ingredients and very closely mirrors the constituent mix in the original plant.

Why is Full Spectrum Standardized Better?

It is a central philosophy of traditional herbalism to trust in the wisdom of nature to provide the most complete medicines for humans. “The whole herb is the medicine.” The conventional Pharmaceutical Industry, on the other hand, has sought to isolate compounds to create new drugs. Although the clinical results are sometimes miraculous with drugs, they are often characterized by harmful side effects and even toxicity. People in large numbers are now turning back to herbs for remedies that are more harmonious with the human metabolism, especially to treat nutritional imbalances and chronic conditions that modern medicine does not effectively address.

The fact that whole herbs are such balanced medicines for humans is no coincidence. As a species, we’ve evolved in the context of plants as food, shelter and medicine. For plants, natural selection over millions of years has fine tuned the chemical balance of their hundreds of constituents so that they could compete and thrive as viable life forms. Like humans, plants grow using hormones, fight disease with antibiotics, fend off predators, reproduce, and adapt to changing conditions. With just the right chemical arsenal to carry out the complex life processes required for survival, herbs have shown themselves to be a very good complement for analogous components of human survival. Herbalists throughout the world have agreed for many centuries that it is a better choice to trust in the wisdom of this balanced synergy than to upset it by tweaking or isolating an herb’s components.

In an unprecedented volume of new pharmacological and clinical studies, scientists are now confirming in the lab what has long been believed. Studies have shown for example that a full spectrum herbal extract of Panax Ginseng consistently outperforms an extract comprising purified ginsenosides, illustrating that polysaccharides and other active constituents in Ginseng play an integral role in its clinical efficacy. Recent studies on St. John’s Wort have similarly shown that the previously overlooked flavonoids may play a key role in its clinical performance.

As herbalism becomes more popular, systems of consistent dosage delivery have become a problem. Standardization of herbal products to a marker compound has become an obvious solution. Now with Draco’s Full Spectrum Standardized Herbal Extracts™, we have even overcome the previous limitations of standardization by providing a guaranteed potency herbal extract, higher in Total Active Ingredients, that is also an accurate representation of the whole herb at its peak medicinal efficacy.

How do we achieve Full Spectrum?

At Draco, a superior extract starts with the seed in the ground. Our herb growers adhere to our uncompromisingly high standards for raw plant material. Harvested at its peak, only the best raw herb passes our rigorous incoming quality assurance procedures.

Thoroughly cleaned and properly sized for extraction, the prepared plant material is loaded into our state-of-the-art extraction equipment where it is bathed in pure, clean water. Using a uniquely designed process, we draw out even low solubility constituents like oils and resins without the use of industrial solvents like alcohol or hexane. Temperature is controlled to ensure maximum infusion, however the menstruum is never brought to a temperature that would damage sensitive plant constituents. The menstruum becomes increasingly strengthened as it is cycled through the plant material, and begins to have its own unique solvent characteristics, helping to pull out additional constituents that are lower in water solubility. The extraction process is a closed system, so valuable volatiles don’t escape. The extract menstruum is then concentrated, and the concentrated liquid is dried using an ultra high speed spray dryer that produces a fine powder.

Throughout this process, each plant species is prepared and extracted according to the particular “individuality” of that herb. GMP’s and strict quality control measures are integrated throughout. Quantitative tests include HPLC, HPTLC, GC, UV, and microbiological analyses to insure cleanliness, quality, consistency, and standardization.  Best of all, our manufacturing facilities are ISO 9001:2000 certified, both our facilities and extract products are Kosher Certified, and our facilities are Organic Certified to both NOP and IFOAM guidelines.

The final product is a state-of-the-art Full Spectrum Standardized Herbal Extract™, rich in supporting constituents like polysaccharides, flavonoids and terpenes. Extracted in purified water, it carries no traces of industrial solvents like alcohol or hexane. Finished without carriers like cornstarch or maltodextrin, the Draco extract is pure,concentrated and natural. Beverage and cosmetic manufacturers are excited about the low residue characteristics of Full Spectrum Standardized Herbal Extracts™. Capsule and tablet manufacturers are happy about low volume dosages and extremely low microbiological plate counts. And end consumers are repeat-buying because of exceptional efficacy.