Frequently asked questions

What is semi-wild cultivation?


Over 90% of our tonic herbs are either wild-grown or grown utilizing the semi-wild growing technique. While it is clear what the term "wild" indicates, the term "semi-wild" isn't as widely understood. Semi-wild herbs are grown from seed, then placed into a natural environment (a mountain forest or a desert, for example) and allowed to grow naturally without human interference. The "semi-wild" cultivation process simulates the growing conditions where the herb can accumulate food and energy naturally. This method produces herbs with a chemical profile closely similar to the wild material and is often better than the organically cultivated varieties. Wild herbs cannot be termed “organic” because they are not cultivated, even though their growing methods would deem them certified organic.




What is herb fingerprinting?


Our suppliers use this procedure of analysis to assure that the herbs we receive are consistent in both their quality and the ratios of active compounds within each herb. Like the fingerprints of an individual human being, each herb used in TCM has its own unique fingerprints, characteristics and active components. Herb fingerprinting is an objectively verifiable procedure close to the research techniques of botanical herbs in the West and as such, is capable of building customer confidence in the quality and efficacy of TCM. This scientific and systematic approach enables precise quantification of the ingredients and properties of Chinese Medicine, thus ensuring the stability and consistency of quality between products of different batches.




Why is dual-extraction important for medicinal mushrooms?


When modern day science began experimenting with medicinal mushrooms to test their potential efficacy, research was conducted using two methods of extraction, i.e. hot water and alcohol extraction. In testing these crude extracts, they discovered that these two distinctly different extraction methods produced two very different medicinal fractions, and therefore two very different physiological effects. It was learned that the hot-water method of extraction was best for concentrating the exotic long-chained sugars known as beta-glucans, as well as other medicinally active polysaccharides. Because these polysaccharides have a profound effect on the immune system, it was quickly understood that hot water extraction was critical to making an immuno-modulating formula. Additional scientific inquiry has turned up another powerful class of molecules within the fruiting bodies of medicinal mushrooms as well, and these are known as “terpenes”. It is these terpenes that are responsible for the adaptogenic effects that medicinal mushrooms are becoming increasingly known for. However these terpenes are poorly soluble in water which means a different method must be employed in order to effectively extract and concentrate these compounds. Research has revealed that ethanol (drinking alcohol) can be used to effectively extract these alcohol soluble constituents. As we can see, there are two fractions of medicinal mushrooms that have an important biological role in human physiology. One fraction is hot water soluble and the other is ethanol soluble. Both are extremely beneficial, though for different reasons, and both are essential in a well-rounded medicinal mushroom formula. Thus, a “dual extract” is one in which both a hot water extraction and an alcohol extraction are performed separately, and the resulting concentrations are then brought together to produce a combination formula that contains both important fractions.




Full Spectrum vs. Standardized Extraction


Full-spectrum Extract A full-spectrum extract is made with an herbaceous plant's part(s), tinctured in a menstruum of alcohol to achieve a product that includes the highest percentage of all the plant's chemicals and compounds, without affecting the natural ratio of these constituents present in the plant. Full-spectrum extracts leave the natural ratios of the constituents in tact. Many scientists and practitioners around the world believe that some of the desired effects observed from a full-spectrum product may likely be attributed to the interactions between constituents (though not yet fully explored). Further, it is believed that there are constituents in plants that should not be left out so as to avoid adverse or unwanted effects that may occur with selectivity of compounds --selectivity being the characteristic of standardized extractions. Plants contain an array of phytochemicals with internal complexity working together as important pieces to the puzzle. Consequently, standardization may concentrate one constituent at the expense of other potentially important ones, while changing the natural balance of the herb’s components. Standardized Extract A standardized extract is made with an herbaceous plant's part(s), in a process of selectivity to extract one individual chemical or compound to produce a guaranteed amount, usually expressed as a percentage. This ensures that the isolated constituent will be present at the same potency from batch to batch. A full-spectrum's range of constituents may vary from batch to batch. Variances can be good in the case of plants that have antibacterial effects, for example, where the variance may be beneficial to "fool" the suspecting bacteria. But if you want to isolate a particular inactive glycoside to be activated for available chemical use (done by enzyme hydrolysis which causes the sugar part to be broken off), then standardization would be the clear choice.