Full Spectrum Botanical Extracts: Truly natural( Full Spectrum, Full Spectrum herbal extracts)
Updated: May 17
Botanical therapies are witnessing a global recognition. In developing countries, a vast majority of the indigenous populations use medicinal plants as a major form of healthcare. Consumers in Industrialized countries are opting for alternative therapies which in some cases are now part of insurance covers. With this increase in the popularity comes the pitfalls of opportunistic marketing companies that prey upon the lack of understanding and consumer education. Time and again the FDA in USA has found spiking rampant. The concerns with modern medicine have led to renewed interest in botanical medicines. Consumers have found that botanical drugs offer a viable alternative to questionable synthetic drugs which are not only expensive but come with a long list of side effects.
The popularity of botanical drugs is due, in part, to a basic underpinning of botanical medicines which is that a complex matrix of multiple compounds within an extract elicits multiple biological actions and the activity of a major compound may be potentiated by multiple minor constituents. In short, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. However, the reality is quite different.
Mankind has assumed the role of the primary living organism in the world and the arrogance that comes with this assumption has led to several disasters, climate change being one of the most visible. An industry that prides itself on being the “Natural Product” industry has been moving away from the “naturalness” of herbs by assuming that humans possess a greater wisdom than the universe that has endowed each plant with a specific biochemistry. The industry continues to create illogical ingredients based on simplification of a highly intricate metabolic process. By purifying specific components in plants, the industry has taken an extremely risky path where an assumption that the compound/compounds being purified are therapeutic. The risk in this approach has been underlined by several previous experiences that have shown that these assumptions can be incorrect. St John’s wort is one famous case where hypericin was assumed to be the bioactive compound and manufacturers attempted to purify the compound to have extracts with higher percentages of hypericin. After decades of assuming that Hypericin was the primary active in the herb it was found that the hypericin compounds produce a significant amount of reactive oxygen species upon photo-activation, which can cause damage to areas of the body exposed to light. The standardization was changed to hyperosides and hyperforin.
The question we must ask ourselves is whether we have a greater intelligence than the universe that created all living matter. Why would each plant species have a unique biochemistry? If specific compounds were active then the plants should contain only that compound, but the fact is that nature creates a multitude of naturally occurring substances that provide a biologically active plant with secondary metabolites that work to potentiate the activity of each other and provide safety.
Whilst the industry resorts to using terms like “Ayurveda”, TCM” etc, there is very little resemblance of these traditional practises in modern supplements that have been manipulated by man to assume a greater activity in targeted standardized extracts. It is impossible to define the activity of every compound or the safety of these in isolation with reference to ethnomedical claims.
Purified or targeted standardization cannot be called “traditional” remedies. An extract that has been manipulated in anyway is no longer a “Natural” extract. Only Full Spectrum Extracts that bear the same fingerprint as the native herb can be termed “natural” and be used as a traditionally indicated ingredient.
The manipulation of herbs by isolating or purifying a specific compound in plants assuming that they become more active is akin to assuming that by removing the head from the torso a person becomes more intelligent. Every living being works as w hole and this might not be marketable or allow creative marketing companies to offer “innovations” however the fact is that the whole is far greater than a part and therefore the only valid, ethical form of producing alternative medicines is the use of Full Spectrum, Full Spectrum herbal extracts.
As humans we have allowed our arrogance to lead us towards serious natural disasters, and one that we do not see due to creative marketing is the natural product industry that has chosen to move away from naturalness towards an unknown area of chemical manipulation. Each company attempts to convince customers that they have an innovative process, and a simple question would lead us to understand that none are right. Dozens of companies claiming individual “innovation” cannot all be right. The only one right is NATURE.
If you as a consumer of NATURAL PRODUCTS are truly interested in natural products, then you must consider the naturalness of the products you buy and accept the fact that we humans have understood only a fraction of the secrets of nature.