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Plant Extracts or Plant Powders: What's better for me?

We’re here today to answer a commonly asked question from our inbox, “What’s the difference between extracted herbs and raw herbs?” And the follow up question, “What’s better for me?” So let’s jump right in! 

The biggest difference between extracted herbs and plant powders lie in the potency. This is due to three issues:

  1. Plant Part: In herbal medicine, the focus is really on the part of the plant that contains the most bioactive phytochemicals for creating the extract versus using the whole plant (leaf, root, stem, fruit). For instance, Schisandra extracts are focused on the berries since that is where research has shown there to be the most beneficial compounds. In Prismatic Plants’ formulas, we only use the most medicinal parts of the plants as identified by both scientists and herbalists.

  2. Concentration: From here the question is how much bioactive is in this extract versus this powder? With an extract, not only are you using the more medicinally rich part of the plant but you are also then concentrating those compounds into less space through extraction. So in comparing 1g of raw plant material to 1g of extract, it would be likely to see a 5-15x increase in potency.  With hemp, the dry weight of flowers only contains about 10% of the beneficial bioactive phytochemical CBD. With the herbal extract part of our formula, we do a very unique double extraction of the herbs to make sure we are getting as many of those bioactive phytochemicals as possible. This isn’t to say we should abandon taking whole plant powders. They are still beneficial to consume, you’ll just have to take more over time to experience the same medicinal benefit you’d get from a lesser amount of plant extract.

  1. Absorption: Another major difference between extracts and dry powders can be seen in the way your body absorbs the beneficial compounds. Extracts enter your bloodstream much faster so you’ll experience the benefits pretty quickly after ingesting. Dry herbs are most commonly taken in capsule form, put loosely into lattes, or other food products like plant-based baked goods. They end up in your stomach which can be seen as another form of processing. It’s not uncommon to lose some of the medicinal benefits when taking plant medicines this way due to the way your body naturally filters everything you eat and drink. This is why we specifically designed our formula to be a tincture format to help it get into your bloodstream quickly while also avoiding your digestive system as much as possible. This is why we recommend holding the tincture in your mouth for 1min to allow it to absorb into the mucus glands in your gums and cheeks before swallowing.

Now that we’ve identified some key differences from a science perspective, the last difference to mention is cost. With the higher potency found in extracted herbs you’ll typically find a higher price tag. The extraction process is laborious and requires ample testing to ensure every last ounce of plant medicine is safe. Full-spectrum extracts (like our hemp) go through rigorous testing to identify and quantify the beneficial compounds present (cannabinoids and terpenes). From there, the extract is blended accordingly to strength to make sure enough of those bioactive phytochemicals are present to deliver the health benefit we are looking to achieve. This high-level of integrity and process can be found in how we make Prismatic Plants. From sourcing potent plant material, to our extraction process, to robust testing, to our form factor, we set out to create a highly efficacious but safe plant medicine. 

We love hearing your questions about herbal medicine so please keep em’ coming!