Ask an HerbalistFeb 2, 2022
Ask an Herbalist: How can you tell how much herb is in an herbal extract?
We love talking about herbs and herbalism, and we especially love answering your questions about those topics. That's why we brought in our team of herbal experts to respond to some of the most common questions and concerns we hear.
Our herbalists have decades of combined experience working with herbs — and the people who take them. They answer your most pressing questions, in our regular column “Ask an Herbalist.”
How can you tell how much herb is in an herbal extract?
You may be wondering how to figure out how much herb is in your extract. To get started, it’s actually helpful to first rephrase the question. This is because extracts, by their very nature, no longer contain the starting herb. Instead, they contain phytochemical extractives from the herb that are now separated from the structural material of the plant. This is what gives an extract its special properties. So, it might be better to ask, how much herb does the extract represent? Or put another way, how much herb is this extract made from?
The answer to the question lies in the weight to volume strength ratio. Strength ratios describe the weight of the starting herb and the volume of menstruum (combined liquids) used to extract it, and are also known as the extraction rate. So, for example, a 1:4 ratio means 1 gram (g) of herb is extracted with 4 milliliters (mL) of menstruum. You can also divide out the ratio to give 0.250 g/mL, equivalent to 250 mg/mL. And if you multiply this by the dose in mL you’ll get the extraction rate per serving. Here, if the serving is 0.7 mL, you get an extraction rate of 175 mg/serving.
Strength ratios are predetermined for every extract we make and are consistently followed as part of our manufacturing process. And now that you know the background to strength ratios, you’ll be glad to know that our extraction rate per dose is on every label. The “E” in the Supplement Facts Panel refers to a number below the Other Ingredients list clearly labeled as “Extraction Rate.”