Reputable Herbal Companies: EN Finds Out Which Ones Really Deliver

Herbs are hot. At last count, sales of herbal products in the U.S. were approaching $4 billion and climbing. This potential gold mine has now lured pharmaceutical giants like American Home Products (Centrum) and Warner Lambert (One A Day) into the U.S. herbal products market. It has also spawned a push toward standardization and accountability, even among smaller, but reputable and well-established companies. Yet choosing herbal products is still a daunting task. Here, EN offers some much-needed guidance.

<table border="2" cellpadding=”2″ bgcolor=”#80FF80″ align=”right” width=”50%”>

EN’s Choice Herbal Companies and Brands

Though many companies produce quality herbs, in EN’s discussions with experts, the following names crop up continually as reputable sources. (We recommend single herb product lines.)

Celestial Seasonings; (800) 351-8175; www.celestialseasonings.com. Well-respected, longtime maker of herbal teas, now offering supplements. Certified organic herb line.

Eclectic Institute; (888) 799-4372; www.eclecticherb.com. Unique source of freeze-dried herbal extracts.

Enzymatic Therapy/PhytoPharmica; (800) 558-7372; www.enzy.com and www.phytopharmica.com. Maker of Remifemin, leading European menopausal remedy. Certified organic herbs grown exclusively for them.

Gaia Herbs, Inc.; (800) 831-7780. Certified organic or wildcrafted.* Some products are “standardized full-spectrum extracts,” which maintain the natural chemical profile of the extract. Recommended by many experts.

Herbalist & Alchemist; (800) 611-8235. www.herbalist-alchemist.com. Small producer headed by noted herbalist David Winston. Quality extracts. Certified organic.

Herb Pharm; (800) 348-4372; www.herb-pharm.com. Small producer of certified organic herbs in business for 20 years. Whole herbs, not standardized, but recommended by many experts.

Indena; (206) 340-6140; www.indena.it. Well-respected Italian supplier to U.S. companies. Lichtwer Pharma; (800) 927-7663; www.lichtwer.com. German makers of Kwai garlic, Ginkai ginkgo and Kira St. John’s wort, all tested formulas.

Nature’s Herbs (TwinLab); (800) 437-4372; www.naturesherbs.com. Well-respected herbal company in business for 30 years.

Nature’s Way; (800) 962-8873; www.naturesway.com. In herbal business for 30 years; partners with Madaus and Schwabe, respected German companies. Maker of Femaprint chaste tree, Echinaguard echinacea, Ginkgold ginkgo, HeartCare hawthorn, Thisylin milk thistle, ProstActive saw palmetto and Perika St. John’s wort (standardized to hyperforin), all tested European formulas.

Pharmaton; (800) 451-6688; www.pharmaton.com. Maker of Ginkgoba ginkgo, Ginsana ginseng, Venastat horse chestnut and Movana St. John’s wort, all tested European formulas.

Warner-Lambert; (877) 782-6837; www.TakeYourQ.com. Maker of Quanterra Mental Sharpness with ginkgo, Quanterra Emotional Balance with St. John’s wort standardized to hyperforin and Quanterra Prostate with saw palmetto, all tested European formulas.

Whitehall-Robins (American Home Products); (877) 236-8786; www.centrumcenter.com. Maker of Centrum Herbals line of single, standardized herbs.

*wildcrafted-picked from the wild, not cultivated.

Buyer Beware. Quality and potency aren’t guaranteed when you buy botanicals, because they are not regulated like prescription drugs or even over-the-counter medications. Since 1994, herbal products have been classified as dietary supplements, which don’t need proof of effectiveness or safety prior to sale. Nor must products prove they are free of contaminants or that they even contain the ingredients claimed on the label. So, where does this leave you, the consumer? Pretty much in the dark. Your only defense is to find a company-large or small-to trust.

Are Standardized Herbs Better? In the absence of regulation, many manufacturers are turning to standardization. The advantage of a standardized product is that it consistently contains a certain level of “marker compounds.” These substances may be responsible for the herb’s actions in the body-the herb’s so-called “active compounds.” Sometimes not. More often, researchers simply don’t know.

At the very least, marker compounds serve as a guarantee that the plant used hasn’t been misidentified and ensures a consistent product despite varying geography, climate and soil conditions.

But even standardized products don’t always contain what they say they do. Analyses by the Los Angeles Times and Self magazine of standardized St. John’s wort products, for example, found that nearly three-quarters of the brands tested contained less than 90% of the marker compound hypericin that was listed on the label. Some had less than half.

Ironically, experts now believe the much ballyhooed hypericin-the compound most St. John’s wort in the U.S. is standardized to-is not responsible for the herb’s effects. Other components, such as hyperforin, are probably more important, though hypericin may still be a good marker compound.

This highlights a drawback to herbs that are standardized to only one ingredient and supports the rationale for ground-up whole herbs. Even so, most experts agree some whole herbs simply can’t provide enough active compound to be effective. With Ginkgo biloba, for example, only a concentrated, standardized extract is effective.

Bottom Line. Given the current lack of regulation, EN favors standardization, especially for herbs with identified marker compounds (see box). And we advise sticking to products based on single herbs. With combination products, you may get substances you don’t want or need, increasing the chance of unwanted side effects or interactions.

For standardized herbs, you probably can’t go wrong buying from established European providers or U.S. pharmaceutical firms, who have reputations to uphold. But big name brands may cost more. Moreover, small companies are favored by many herbal experts. Here, EN offers a list of companies, both large and small, that we trust.

For Your Bookshelf

  • The Green Pharmacy, by James A. Duke, Ph.D. (Rodale Press, 1997). A lively discussion by a noted botanist of how to treat medical conditions with herbs, arranged by disease.
  • Herbal Remedies for Dummies, by Christopher Hobbs (IDG Books, 1998). In the entertaining style of this series, a fourth-generation herbalist discusses buying, growing and using herbs, skillfully blending traditional and Western outlooks. Includes guides arranged both by herbs and symptoms. Very useful.
  • Tyler’s Herbs of Choice, by James E. Robbers, Ph.D., and Varro E. Tyler, Ph.D., Sc.D. (Haworth Herbal Press, 1999). Authoritative guide to medicinal use of herbs, arranged by disease. Fully referenced. Fairly technical.
  • Tyler’s Honest Herbal (fourth ed.), by Steven Foster and Varro E. Tyler, Ph.D., Sc.D. (Haworth Herbal Press, 1999). Long-awaited update of what many consider to be the “bible” of medicinal plants, arranged by herbs. Fully referenced. Rather technical.
  • What the Labels Won’t Tell You, by Logan Chamberlain, Ph.D., (Interweave Press, Inc., 1998). A concise guide to choosing herbs by the publisher of Herbs for Health.

For More Information

  • American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas; (512) 331-8868; www.herbalgram.org. Nonprofit. Publishes Herbalgram, a quarterly scientific journal. Offers herb information pamphlets ($1 each).
  • The Herb Research Foundation, Boulder, Colorado; (303) 449-2265; www.herbs.org. Nonprofit. Publishes Herbs for Health, a monthly consumer magazine. Offers herb information packets on individual herbs ($7 each).
<td valign="top" style=”border-left: medium none; border-right: medium none; border-top: medium none; border-bottom: 1px solid”><font face=”Arial” size=”1″>Herb

<td valign="top" style=”border-left: medium none; border-right: medium none; border-top: medium none; border-bottom: 1px solid”><font face=”Arial” size=”1″>Marker Compounds

<td colspan="2" style=”border-left: medium none; border-right: medium none; border-top: 1px solid; border-bottom: 0px none”><font face=”Arial” size=”1″>ppm = parts per million
Sources: What the Labels Won’t Tell You (Interweave Press, 1998) and Herbal Remedies for Dummies (IDG Books, 1998).

<font face=”Arial” size=”3″>20 Commonly Standardized Herbs

Bilberry 25% anthocyanocides
Black cohosh 2.5% triterpene glycosides
Cranberry 30% organic acids
Echinacea 5% echinacosides, 15% polysaccharides
Feverfew 0.7% parthenolide
Garlic 5.4 milligrams allicin or 1,500 ppm allicin
Ginkgo biloba 24% flavone glycosides, 6% terpene lactones
Ginseng 8% ginsenosides
Grape seed 95% proanthocyanidins
Green tea 30% to 40% polyphenols
Guggulipid 2.5% guggulsterones
Hawthorn 3.2% vitexin or 1% flavonoids
Horse chestnut 8% aescin
Kava 30% kavalactones
Licorice 2% to 2.5% glycyrrhizin
Milk thistle 70% to 80% silymarin
Saw palmetto 85% to 95% free fatty acids and sterols
St. John’s wort 0.3% to 0.5% hypericin
Turmeric 95% curcuminoids
Valerian 0.8% valerenic acid
Comments

Leave a Reply

×
Enter Your Log In Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

×
×

Please Log In

You are trying to access subscribers-only content. If you are a subscriber, use the form below to log in.

Subscribers will have unlimited access to the magazine that helps people live more sustainable, self-reliant lives, with feature stories on tending the garden, managing the homestead, raising healthy livestock and more!

This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

×

Please Log In

You are trying to access subscribers-only content. If you are a subscriber, use the form below to log in.

Subscribers will have unlimited access to the magazine that helps the small-scale poultry enthusiast raise healthy, happy, productive flocks for eggs, meat or fun - from the countryside to the urban homestead!

This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

Send this to a friend

Hi,
I thought you might be interested in this article on https://universityhealthnews.com: Reputable Herbal Companies: EN Finds Out Which Ones Really Deliver

-- Read the story at https://universityhealthnews.com/topics/nutrition-topics/reputable-herbal-companies-en-finds-out-which-ones-really-deliver/