“Should I use a whole herb preparation or an extract?”
The advantage of using whole herb preparations (as found in the green labeled herbal singles and in the yellow labeled formulas of Nature’s Way products) over extracts (such as standardized extracts in the purple label and oils, vitamins and minerals in the orange and gold labels of Nature’s Way) depends primarily on your ability to digest. Powdered whole herb in capsules may save you the work of chewing (and tasting) all that bark, root, leaf, or seed, but you still have to digest the herb and extract its therapeutic constituents. You actually make an extract from the whole herbs you swallow in capsule. Your stomach uses solvents such as hydrochloric acid and enzymes to dissolve the herb, extract its benefit, absorb it into circulation, and deliver it where it’s needed. This complex process is beneficial to your body. Research continues to show that the work you do to get the good out of your herbal supplements is in itself an essential part of maintaining good health. For overall health, encapsulated whole herbs have an advantage because they provide the work that strengthens your digestive system.
Because our digestive system uses a variety of solvents and extraction methods that get the most benefit out of what we consume (not to mention the added benefit of a sophisticated quality control or immune system), most regard whole herb as the first choice in maintaining good health and preventing disease. However, when our ability to digest is impaired (such as during an illness, times of stress, or older age), extracts can offer a therapeutic advantage. Any type of stress, whether an illness or a deadline, reduces your ability to digest and derive benefit from your supplements. When you are under stress, you do not secrete as much digestive enzymes, and when you are ill, digestion is slowed to favor immune function. In either case you will not get as much out of whole herbs. During these times, let Nature’s Way do the extraction work for you so you can more easily absorb the beneficial nutrients and focus on healing.