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Ask the Herbalist

What is the difference between an extract and a tincture?

There are many methods of preparing herbs. Technically, both extracts and tinctures are extracted herbal preparations, or “extracts”. The difference is in the herb strength ratios, (concentration). Extracts can be prepared with alcohol and water. For alcohol free products Gaia Herbs evaporates off the alcohol and adds glycerin (glycerite). Gaia Herbs does not use any toxic solvents (eg. hexane, acetone) in the extraction process.

An alcoholic or alcohol/water preparation provides a dry herb strength ratio of 1:5 or weaker (one part herb to 5 parts water). It can even be as weak as a 1:10.

Liquid Extracts
An alcohol/water extract (or glycerite) provides a dry herb strength ratio of 1:4 or stronger. This means that Fluid Extracts represent a dry herb strength ratio of one part herb to 4 parts solvent (a 1:4 ) or stronger.

Solid Extracts
A concentrated Fluid Extract, usually the consistency of a thick syrup concentrated by evaporation or vacuum extraction to a dry herb ratio of 4:1. This represents four parts herb for every part of extract.

Powdered Extracts
A powdered version of a Fluid Extract or Solid Extract. These extracts are prepared by evaporation methods to remove all liquids. the concentration ratio of powdered extracts may vary ranging from 1:1 to 10:1 or stronger.

Standardized Extracts
A powdered or liquid extract is usually prepared by methods described above, note that some companies may use drying agents or other solvents. Standardized extracts represent a “standardized” (measured) amount of a major active compound within the herb (listed in the supplement facts). Standardized extracts are “standardized” by identifying and measuring an active constituent (or group of constituents) and guaranteeing a consistent amount (as per the label) each time it is made. Gaia Herbs concentrates the whole extract to standardize and does not spike or add in compounds.

adapted from, Naturopathic Handbook of Herbal Formulas, Herbal Research Publications, Inc.

Mandy Smith RN
Product Information, Gaia Herbs Inc.