Understanding Gaia Herbs Extraction Process
Standardization is an important and necessary step in herbal processing. Because of the natural variability in herbal raw material — due to geographical, seasonal, horticultural and post-harvest handling factors — natural variability in the quality and potency of finished herbal products is prevalent, and standardization is a way to ensure consistency in labeling. However, the manufacturing process at Gaia Herbs goes far beyond standardization.
At Gaia Herbs, herbal processing involves more than just producing an extract to a certain percentage or weight of one phytochemical. Gaia’s method is Validated Full-Spectrum Processing, which uses standardization as a method to regulate the process, while at the same time taking into consideration the integrity of the herb material and its full phytochemical expression. Beyond standardization, there are four main components to our process:
While the plants are still growing in the fields, we test their phytochemical activity levels, using analytical methods including high-performance liquid chromatography, or HPLC. This periodic testing of field samples enables our scientists to determine when each plant’s active constituents are at their peak.
We only use distilled water and ethanol to extract our herbs — never harsh chemical solvents such as acetone. Food-grade alcohol ensures that our products remain clean, and they have absolutely no toxic solvent residues, since we do not use them in the first place. Our method of extraction focuses on the whole plant profile, never individual constituents. This allows us to use ingestible alcohol for extraction, whereas extraction for a single constituent is primarily done with toxic, non-ingestible solvents, such as hexane. Gaia will never use toxic solvents, especially on our finished products. This is why we extract plants in their entirety, without any isolation of inert substances.
Part of our mission at Gaia Herbs is to do no harm to people, plants or the planet. We believe that if individuals are seeking wellness through the use of supplements, it is only right for us to use non-toxic solvents that will neither harm those taking our products nor the delicate chemical profile of the plants. Our practice of using only safe solvents for extraction also aligns with our mission to lessen our carbon footprint in all our operations. We recycle our ethanol, creating a closed-loop system in our manufacturing practices, thus ensuring we continue to do no harm to the planet, and the plants and people that inhabit it.
At Gaia Herbs, we use the entirety of the plant to promote wellness — as nature intended. Plants are complex organisms that contain numerous components that enable them to thrive in nature. At Gaia, we mirror what nature has created by keeping as much of the full plant profile in its natural form. Each component of a plant has unique abilities that are essential for overall wellness. It is Plant Intelligence® at work. We developed our patented Liquid Phyto-Caps® to be able to deliver a more concentrated, potent extract to consumers and preserve the Plant Intelligence inherent in nature.
Once extracted and filtered, the extract is then concentrated using low heat and low pressure to slowly remove the solvent and preserve the fragile plant constituents. As the solvent is distilled, the extract is concentrated to the desired level.
Final HPLC Analysis
After concentration, we carry out a final HPLC analysis to ensure the extract is concentrated to the correct activity levels.
Our Turmeric Supreme line contains both whole-plant and standardized extracts, which illustrates our validated full-spectrum processing approach. In addition to curcumins, the product contains other essential constituents, such as turmerones, which — while perhaps not as well-known as curcumins — have their own targeted uses. Standardization is often oversimplified, focusing on the basic normalizing or concentration of a group of constituents in a plant. We encourage consumers to investigate the overall manufacturing process and supply chain analysis of a company as opposed to solely analyzing the individual ingredients.