Herbs: Standardized vs. non-standardized? - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-29-2010, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Can someone explain to me what the difference is? I just started Nature's Way Vitex (which is non-standardized....I checked w/the company). I read an article that said if you are taking Vitex that is not standardized that you are wasting your money. I'm wondering if I should get rid of this and buy a tincture instead.

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Old 01-29-2010, 08:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carrin View Post
Can someone explain to me what the difference is? I just started Nature's Way Vitex (which is non-standardized....I checked w/the company). I read an article that said if you are taking Vitex that is not standardized that you are wasting your money.
Sorry, my post got long!!!
(Keep in mind I am not a medical practitioner. Take my words with a grain of salt, as these are just my own opinions and observations.)

First off, it is important to know what "standardized herb" means. I was going to launch into a lengthy explanation, but I found this article from Acupuncture Today that explains it really well:
http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpac...e.php?id=27567

So some of the differences between standardized and whole plant medicines are:

1. Standardized extracts have the plants components broken down and isolated. You are not getting everything the plant has to offer, and the standardized component might not be the one that will have the effect that you want. Whole plant medicines have a wide range of components that work together.

2. Traditional plant medicines are often extracted into the following solvents: water (tea), vinegar, alcohol (tincture or herbal wine), and olis and fats. (some people use powdered dried capsuled herbs, but for the most part that is pretty ineffective).
Standardized herbs, on the other hand, are processed using all sorts of nasty solvents like hexane, methyl chloride, and acetone.

3. Standardized herb extracts are NOT herbs! One article I read (but can't find now) likened it to this: morphine is extracted from poppies, but it is not an herb. Citric acid comes from oranges but it is not an orange. Likewise, agusides may be a component of vitex, but taking it in standardized form is not the same as taking vitex.

There are a lot of arguments that companies have for taking standardized herbs. They claim that if you take a non-standardized plant medicine (or even worse... gasp.... homemade!) you can't be sure of consistent content of the active compounds. To me that is like saying that you should only take vitamin C pills because you don't know how much C you are getting in an orange or red pepper.

As to the argument that so called "non-standardized herbs" don't work... that is silly! People have been relying on traditionally prepared plant medicines for thousands and thousands of years. Chaste Tree Berries (Vitex) had been used as a women's herb long, long before someone in the last 20 years got the idea to standardize and isolate a chemical in it.

I guess the fundamental difference in thought behind standardized herbs and traditional herbal medicine is the "drug theory." Here in the west we are used to pharmaceutical drugs. We expect clear dosages, one-drug-fits-all (like Advil can be used for many problems), quick and predictable effects, and an easy form of ingestion. We take a drug for a symptom, and it doesn't matter if our body's constitution is this or that, if the roots of the problem are in a dietary imbalance, a lifestyle imbalance, or the result of an illness. We have a headache so we take ibuprofen, whether or not the headache is the result of stress, hangover, dehydration, or a head impact.

Traditional herbalism just doesn't work that way. Sure, in a lot of articles you see things like "take St John's Wort for depression" But you don't hear that St John's Wort should be used only for a very specific kind of depression, and won't be as effective for other kinds. And that it also can act as a nervine, helps heal damaged nerve tissue, and has an effect on the urinary system. It can be used internally to help heal pulled liniments, or externally to help heal nerve damage from a bad burn. You don't hear that in order to be effective for certain ailments it needs to be taken this often and in this dosage, or prepared in this manner, and that the forms and dosages completely change depending on what you are using it for.

Standardization takes a complicated and useful plant like St John's Wort and tries to turn it into a single-use drug like ibuprofen. A standardization of ONE component (hyperforin) and ignore the rest. Take it for THIS symptom, in THIS form and dose, and ignore the other uses or effects of the whole plant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carrin View Post
I'm wondering if I should get rid of this and buy a tincture instead.
I haven't used vitex (chaste tree berry) myself, so I am reluctant to give advice on it. But I am fairly sure that a tincture of the fresh or dried berry is quite effective. According to one of my favorite books, The herbal Medicine Makers Handbook: Look for a tincture with 1 part berries to 4 or 5 parts alcohol/water solution. The alcohol should be 45-65% for the most effective extraction.
Some tinctures are made with standardized extracts: I'd steer clear of those.
This is a good company that i've used for tinctures in the past: http://herb-pharm.com/index.php?action=viewsingles (look up Chaste Tree, not vitex)
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for taking the time to explain that to me. That is really helpful!

Carrin Mama to Sawyer 4/06 and TTC #2 I am a WAHM!
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:42 PM
 
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Oh, I forgot. If you want to you might try your hand at making your own vitex tincture at some point. It is much more economical, and you can make it just as well as the kind you buy in the store for $10 a ounce.

Here is how I have made it in the past (it was for my sister).

Ingredients:
Chaste tree berries, dried. (vitex)
100 proof vodka (50% alcohol)

Measure out the chaste tree berries by weight in ounces. Measure out the vodka in fluid ounces.
For every once ounce of dried chaste tree berries use five fluid ounces of vodka.
(example: 2 ounces of vitex and 10 fl ounces of vodka.
Grind up the berries somewhat in a blender. Put in mason jar and pour the vodka over, then screw the lid on the jar. Shake well.
Label the jar with the contents, ratio, and date prepared. Let it sit in a dark place for six weeks, shaking gently whenever you think of it.

In six weeks strain through several layers of cheesecloth. Bottle in opaque bottles (I like brown and blue glass bottles). Label the bottles carefully. Done!
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Old 01-30-2010, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Can I drink the leftover Vodka?

Carrin Mama to Sawyer 4/06 and TTC #2 I am a WAHM!
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Old 01-30-2010, 03:36 PM
 
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But of course!
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Old 01-30-2010, 09:08 PM
 
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I use this one which does say that it is standardized.

It has worked well for me (I'm on pregnancy #3 conceived with this product), but I can't say that it's the only one or the best one. Just the one that worked for me.
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