Alcohol: The First Menstruum
Liquid extracts are a time tested, effective delivery system for medicinal herbs. When choosing liquid extracts, read the label. You will usually see that they contain quite a bit of alcohol. Alcohol is used as a menstruum, or solvent that frees all of the constituents from the fiber and cellulose of the plant, so that the specific medicinal constituents we want become more bio-available to the body. Alcohol has traditionally been used as the menstruum of choice because it is one of the most effective solvents (materials used to pull out the constituents of the herb) that is both reasonably priced and not too toxic on the body. Most of the herbal extracts on the market today have an alcohol content between 30 to 70%.
Bio-Chelation: A Revolutionary Concept
In the 1970’s Mr. Frank D’Amelio Sr., CEO and founder of Nature’s Answer®, noticed that the United States Pharmacopeia (the text that was used as a formulary for herbal processing), recommended using high amounts of alcohol to extract active constituents from the plant. He began to wonder how he could offer consumers potent herbal products without a lot of alcohol. One clue from Nature that became apparent to him was the fact that plants themselves were composed of 80-85% water. Since plants were able to keep their active constituents in solution and use them as needed through the use of water, not alcohol or other solvents, why couldn’t he? He began a long, in depth series of experiments with many different plants. Through rigorous research protocols and scientific testing, he discovered that the active constituents of some plants could be extracted using lower alcohol amounts along with water and other natural solvents, such as organic apple cider vinegar. (Conversely, higher alcohol was necessary at times when volatile oils were being extracted such as menthol from peppermint.) The experimentation continued, as Mr. D’Amelio recorded the optimum menstruum combinations required for each plant to yield the maximum medicinal components. He further refined the process, eventually developing the proprietary Bio-Chelation® cold extraction method.
The Bio-Chelation technique describes an exclusive process that removes much of the alcohol used during the menstruum, or soaking phase, and replaces it with vegetable glycerin, yielding extracts that are either alcohol-free, or have a low alcohol content. In addition, the alcohol used in any Nature’s Answer herbal extract product has the further distinction of being ‘organic’.
The Bio-Chelation method yielded the first 12-14% alcohol extract in the herbal industry!
The Alcohol-Free Advantage
There are many reasons why people may not want to use herbs with high alcohol content. Some people dislike the strong taste of alcohol. Alcohol can stress a weakened or under-functioning liver in sensitive individuals, such as those suffering from allergies, environmental sensitivities, systemic candida, and/or a host of other health concerns. Furthermore, people in recovery from alcoholism cannot use alcohol. Finally, alcohol is not appropriate for young children.
Nature’s Answer's alcohol-free extract formulas replace alcohol with natural vegetable glycerin because glycerin helps to bind certain plant constituents and is easily absorbed by the cells. Glycerin occurs naturally throughout the body. It also makes up a portion of the cellular membranes. This gives glycerin an affinity for the body, making it an excellent carrier for herbs. (Nature’s Answer only uses “vegetable glycerin” in their products.) Another advantage of using glycerin over alcohol is that glycerin serves to protect and preserve the potency of the herbal extract in the bottle over the life of the product longer than alcohol would. Since alcohol easily evaporates, it can lose its effectiveness as a preservative for the herbal constituents as the amount of the alcohol in the bottle decreases. Glycerin, due to its viscosity (thickness) aids in maintaining the freshness and potency of the herb for the life of the product. Finally, glycerin has the added advantage of acting as a sugar-free natural sweetener, thus making the taste of some bitter herbs more palatable.
Nature's Answer®, the pioneer of the alcohol-free extraction process, is proud to offer a comprehensive line of both single herb extracts and combination herbal formulas that do not contain alcohol.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.