Ask an HerbalistFeb 2, 2022

Ask an Herbalist: Why do Liquid Herbal Extracts have an expiry date?

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.”

 

Why do Liquid Herbal Extracts have an expiry date?

When properly made, whole plant extracts are not generally subject to the microbial degradation that is common in many foods and especially liquids. They are, however, subject to precipitation. Precipitation usually occurs as visible particulate sinking to the bottom of the bottle or coating the pipette. Precipitate is evenly distributed when the bottle is shaken and is not a cause for concern when taken as part of the extract. Over time, the amount of precipitate can increase beyond what is normally considered acceptable. This is the primary reason for the expiration dating on liquid extracts. When extracts are properly stored according to labeled instructions, degradation of phytochemicals or extractives is typically slower than the formation of precipitate.