Herbal FAQs

Herbal FAQs

Explore common questions about herbs, our products, and their use.

Allergen and Ingredient Information

What allergens are your products free of?

Gaia Herbs products do not contain gluten, dairy, meat, peanuts, sesame, shellfish, yeast or eggs.

Do your products contain tree nuts?

Gaia Herbs processes fresh Black Walnuts in our facility. They are found in the Black Walnut Fresh Green Hulls Liquid Herbal Extract and Wormwood Black Walnut Supreme Liquid Herbal Extract. All equipment is cleaned between manufacturing lots per GMP requirements.

Products made by Aboca for Gaia Herbs do not contain any tree nuts. Tree nuts are not used in Aboca’s facility.

Are any of your products vegan or vegetarian?

Most of our products are vegan; all Gaia products are vegetarian. The following Gaia Herbs products are not vegan because they contain honey or other bee-derived ingredients:

GaiaKids® Black Elderberry Syrup 

Bronchial Wellness Syrup (kids and adults) 

GaiaKids® KidsDefense® 

Echinacea Goldenseal Supreme 

Echinacea Goldenseal Propolis Throat Spray 

Propolis Extract 

Plant Force Liquid Iron® 

Vitex Elixir

Are your products free from corn?

The L-Tyrosine in Thyroid Support is derived from non-GMO corn. The citric acid in PlantForce Liquid Iron is derived from corn (glucose). There are trace amounts of corn in Eleuthero root, Mental Alertness, Energy Vitality, Gingko Gotu Kola, Elderberry capsules, Immune Shine, Turmeric Boost Restore, Turmeric Boost Uplift and Throat Shield Lozenges and Spray and Sleep and Relax Tea. No other products contain corn-derived ingredients. As of May 2019 Vitamin C, listed on the label, (derived from corn), was removed from Vision Enhancement and is no longer listed on the label. The xanthan gum that is used in our products is produced by bacterial fermentation.

As of May 2015, we use 190-proof non-GMO sugar cane alcohol for all products extracted at our facility in Brevard, North Carolina. Those new labels list “alcohol USP” or “organic alcohol USP.”

For products made before then, we used 190-proof alcohol derived from corn and wheat. The alcohol used for extraction is distilled and certified gluten-free by the manufacturer. The distillation process eliminates proteins (gluten is a protein).

Are your products soy-free?

As of 2016, Gaia Herbs products are soy-free. In 2015, Gaia transitioned to non-GMO sunflower lecithin. This exclusively replaced our previous lecithin, sourced from non-GMO soy (labeled as non-GMO soy lecithin). The new labels read “lecithin” to allow flexibility to use a different type of non-soy/non-GMO lecithin in the future.

Are Gaia Herbs products gluten free?

Gaia Herbs does not use any gluten containing ingredients in our products. Our products are tested annually for gluten by a third-party lab using the ELISA test method for gluten, with a detection limit of 5 ppm. All of our products have tested below the federal limit of 20ppm gluten for a ‘gluten free’ claim, with the exception of Milk Thistle Seed liquid alcohol extract (not the Milk Thistle capsules) and Gas & Bloating tablets.

We use oat seed (Avena sativa) picked during the milky stage of growth (called Oats Milky Seed) in a few of our products. Our oats are processed within 48 hours of harvest and are not cross contaminated with any gluten containing grains and have tested gluten free. Oats are a gluten free grain unless cross contaminated with other grains that contain gluten, however, some very sensitive people avoid even gluten free oats.

Please contact info@gaiaherbs.com for further info about gluten testing in our products.

What is the source of your alcohol?

As of May 2015, we use 190-proof non-GMO sugar cane alcohol for all products extracted at our facility in Brevard, North Carolina. Those new labels list “alcohol USP” or “organic alcohol USP.”

For products made before then, we used 190-proof alcohol derived from corn and wheat. The alcohol used for extraction is distilled and certified gluten-free by the manufacturer. The distillation process eliminates proteins (gluten is a protein).

What is the source of your glycerin?

Gaia Herbs’ glycerin is derived from a blend of non GMO rape seed oil (also known as canola oil), non GMO sunflower oil, and sustainably certified non GMO palm oil. Glycerin is a distilled product and therefore does not contain any protein derived allergens.

What are the ingredients in your Liquid Phyto-Caps®?

Gaia Herbs hypromellose capsules are the same vegan and gluten-free Liquid Phyto-Caps® that we have always used. With recent labels we have changed the wording on the label to be more accurate with labelling requirements. Other companies are also following suit, and you will see this occurring on many more product labels in the upcoming year. Gaia’s cellulose capsules are made from HPMC (Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, also known as hypromellose), which is derived from cellulose from pine trees. Hypromellose is semi-synthetic, meaning that the ingredients are naturally derived, but there is a processing step in the lab to break down the cellulose and rebuild it. The capsules have passed third party testing for residual solvents according to USP guidelines. Some grades of HPMC do have polymer plasticizers mixed in, however Gaia Herbs has chosen a capsule which contains only the cellulose from pine trees mixed with water. There is no danger of phthalate consumption with Gaia Herbs capsules.

What are your other capsules made of?

Some of our capsules are made from pullulan. This is derived from naturally fermented tapioca. Pullulan capsules are also vegan and gluten-free.

Purity, Integrity, and Potency

Does Gaia Have 3rd Party Testing?

Third party testing is used by Gaia Herbs on an as needed basis, however, most of our testing is done in house because of the sophisticated equipment and knowledge needed to test our products. Our lab has also been audited by a third-party lab to ensure the scientific validity of our instruments and methods and received a 100% score. Gaia’s products are not USP or NSF certified; their test methods are not usually directed towards the testing of full spectrum herbal products. We have established specifications, many of which can be seen online. We post these results online as well as the test methods that we follow (on the Certificate of Analysis through Meet Your Herbs. Gaia Herbs is registered by the FDA and was audited by the FDA in Dec 2011, August of 2014 and June of 2017.

Where is Gaia’s Turmeric Sourced and Is It Tested for Lead?

The recent concern regarding lead contamination in turmeric seems to be based in turmeric being sold in Bangladesh that has been intentionally adulterated with lead chromate to enhance the color. We test all incoming materials for heavy metals including lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic, and our turmeric is primarily sourced from Indonesia and India. You can check sourcing and testing info for each particular batch of product by scrolling to the bottom of any product page to view the results of the latest batch of product or entering the Meet Your Herbs ID # printed on the bottle at Meet Your Herbs.

Gaia Herbs uses ICP-MS to test for arsenic, mercury, cadmium and lead. ICP-MS stands for Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry. This instrument is the centerpiece of Gaia’s heavy metals testing. This powerful technique is capable of observing a wide range of metal at quantities as low as a nanogram of metal in a gram sample. The ICP-MS allows Gaia to obtain precise and sensitive data for all materials in a high speed manner. The plasma vaporizes the sample and ultimately breaks it down to the atomic level. The mass spectrometer is then able to detect all atoms of interest.

How does Gaia Herbs test for pesticides?

Gaia tests for purity using an analytical method called Gas Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry, or GC-MSMS. This testing is used to check all raw herbs for pesticides. Read more about this with Meet Your Herbs.

Does Gaia Herbs Test for Heavy Metals?

Yes. Gaia Herbs uses ICP-MS to test for arsenic, mercury, cadmium and lead. ICP-MS stands for Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry. This instrument is the centerpiece of Gaia’s heavy metals testing. This powerful technique is capable of observing a wide range of metal at quantities as low as a nanogram of metal in a gram sample. The ICP-MS allows Gaia to obtain precise and sensitive data for all materials in a high speed manner. The plasma vaporizes the sample and ultimately breaks it down to the atomic level. The mass spectrometer is then able to detect all atoms of interest.

How does Gaia Herbs test for pesticides?

Gaia tests for purity using an analytical method called Gas Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry, or GC-MSMS. This testing is used to check all raw herbs for pesticides. Read more about this with Meet Your Herbs.

How does Gaia Herbs identify their products?

Gaia Herbs conducts DNA testing of raw materials to ensure that adulteration is not possible. Our standard reference material is DNA tested by a third-party laboratory. Incoming samples are compared with these validated botanicals. We combine DNA-validated reference materials with highly sophisticated statistical analysis. That data over time can be used to monitor potency and integrity. When appropriate, herbal ingredients are received in a whole form for freshness and ease of identification. Read more about the integrity of our products.

What is Gaia Herbs policy on GMOs?

Gaia Herbs is committed to using and supporting only non-GMO materials. Gaia does not purchase GMO herbs and/or ingredients. We do a purchasing review to ensure we eliminate the possibility of hidden GMOs making their way into our products. All herbs propagated and grown on Gaia Farm are Certified Organic and therefore are GMO-free. Our seeds, whether sourced from our farm or a trusted supplier, are also GMO-free. We will always do everything possible to ensure that our products are non-GMO.

What does supercritical mean?

Supercritical CO2 extraction is an environmentally friendly method of extracting oils from plants. It is usually reserved for herbs that contain higher amounts of oils, such as Oregano, Ginger, Holy Basil, Saw Palmetto and Turmeric. This extraction method involves putting the dried herb in a vessel (a bit like a pressure cooker) with carbon dioxide. Then a supercritical temperature of 31 degrees Celcius (or above) is applied, as well as a vacuum. Under these conditions, the CO2 turns into a solvent and extracts the naturally occurring oils from the plant material. After the extraction process is complete, the pressure and vacuum are brought back to normal, and the carbon dioxide evaporates back into the atmosphere.

Supercritical extraction avoids the use of chemical solvents such as acetone or hexane. Supercritical extracts are broad-spectrum oil extracts; in other words, they contain all the compounds in the herb that are oil-based, including but not limited to volatile oils. For example, this process is used to extract the Carvacrol, found in Oregano leaf.

What does weight-to-volume ratio mean?

This is the most common way to measure the strength of a liquid herbal extract or tincture. The number on the left represents the amount of plant material used to produce the extract, while the number on the right represents the weight of the solvent used. A lower number on the right means a stronger product. A 1:1 ratio means that 8 pounds of raw herb are used per every 1 gallon of alcohol. (One gallon of alcohol weighs 8 pounds.) A 1:2 ratio means that 8 pounds of herb are used per every 2 gallons of alcohol, and a 1:3 ratio means that 8 pounds of herb are used for every 3 gallons of alcohol. Gaia’s ratios are typically between 1:1 and 1:3. (The liquids in many other brands are between 1:4 and 1:10.)

How long are herbal products good for?

Alcohol-based extracts have a 5-year expiration date and alcohol-free extracts and elixirs have a 3-year expiration date. Our Liquid Phyto-Caps® carry a 2–3-year expiration date. This is based on the date of manufacture. They do not need to be refrigerated, but they do need to be kept out of direct sunlight. PlantForce™ Liquid Iron, Sleep & Relax Herbal Syrup, our Black Elderberry syrups need to be refrigerated to stay viable, and all syrups must be used in the specified amount of time.

How does Gaia determine whether to use fresh or dried herbs?

Gaia uses fresh herbs when the compounds and actives in those herbs are best extracted fresh. Drying herbs can concentrate the active constituents, but certain herbs lose their active principles (such as Slippery Elm’s mucilage) when dried. One of the major advantages Gaia has is that we own and operate a Certified Organic farm next to our processing facility, which allows us to process fresh plant material immediately after harvest.

What is the best way to store Gaia Herbs products?

The best way to store extracts is in a cool, dry place that’s out of the sun, like a cupboard or pantry. They do not need to be refrigerated, but they should be kept away high temperatures. Liquid Phyto-Caps® should not be refrigerated and should also be stored in a cool, dry place, away from extreme temperatures. PlantForce™ Liquid Iron, Sleep & Relax Herbal Syrup, our Black Elderberry syrups need to be refrigerated to stay viable, and all syrups must be used in the specified amount of time.

Why does this extract look different from the last one I bought?

Levels of chemical constituents vary quite naturally. Constituents are affected by growing conditions such as soil, weather, and altitude and by factors such as age of the plant, when it was harvested and where the seed came from. This means that each batch of extract will be slightly different. Extracts that are standardized will have consistent levels of the marker compound, but will require varying amounts of plant material to get that level. This may affect the appearance of the extract.


There is also the fact that liquid extracts are solutions, which means that the dissolved substance (solute) may fall out of solution, especially considering the high concentration of Gaia’s extracts. If this happens, you will see small particles of plant constituents in the extract. Vigorous shaking will often cause the solute to go back into solution.

Why does the extract inside the Phyto-Cap look separated or discolored?

Occasionally, some natural separation may occur with the Phyto-Cap products after encapsulation. This does not alter the quality of the product.

On your labels, under suggested use what does “between meals” mean?

“Between meals” means that for optimal absorption, you should take the product either half an hour before eating or 2 hours or more after eating.

What is the difference between extract mg and dry herb equivalent mg?

The dry herb equivalent is the amount of dried herb used to make an extract, and it is the easiest way to compare potency of products. An extract is an herb that has gone through an extraction process. This includes using alcohol and water to make a liquid extract, carbon dioxide to make an oil-based supercritical extract or alcohol and/or water (and the process of freeze-drying) to make a powdered extract.

At the end of the extraction process, the fiber is discarded, and consequently, the extract weight is lower than the original weight of the herb. An herb that is not extracted is consumed either fresh from the farm or garden or picked and dried before being consumed. Dried herbs can be powdered and encapsulated, but they are not called extracts unless they have gone through an extraction process. The simplest type of extract is a tea. The dry weight of the tea bag could be equated to the dry herb equivalent or the amount of dry herb required to make the tea. To measure the amount of extract in the tea, you would need to evaporate the water from the brewed tea (without the tea leaves) and measure the small amount of powder that remains.

Why is the Dry Herb Equivalent statement included only for some Liquid Phyto-Cap products?

Due to the variability of bioactivity in botanicals, it is difficult to assign a dry herb equivalent as the amount of raw material needed to meet our label claim varies from batch to batch.

Therefore, we have removed the dry herb equivalent reference from the cartons/labels for these items. The milligram extract amount reported in our Supplement Facts box does not vary between batches.

What is the capsule size for Liquid Phyto-Caps?

We use a size 0 capsule for all encapsulated products.

What is a Gaia Validated Partner?

These partners represent our trusted wholesalers and brokers with connections to farmers and wild crafters around the world, beyond our own direct relationships. We require that these partners – and the individuals they represent, uphold the Gaia Principles of Purity in order to ensure the purity of these raw materials and have a positive effect on the planet and the communities where the herbs are sourced.

What does Ecologically Harvested mean?

Ecologically Harvested is a term that describes all herbs sold by Gaia Herbs that are not Certified Organic. Ecologically Harvested herbs include herbs that are harvested in their natural habitat, (i.e., wild harvested) according to specific guidelines for harvesting these herbs (i.e., away from roads and industry, as well as guidelines to avoid overharvesting). Our term, Ecologically Harvested, also includes herbs that are grown in managed woodland areas, fields designated for specific herbs, and herbs that are grown by indigenous growers, such as Kava Kava. All Ecologically Harvested herbs pass pesticide and heavy metal testing as well as microbial testing, prior to release.