The ability of an herb to be concentrated simply depends on the water-solubility of the material. If the water solubility of a substance is low, the percentage of concentration is high. The critical factor is that the concentrate has to reflect the full-spectrum which means all the natural constituents making up that particular herb used in traditional water decoctions. It’s impossible to concentrate the full spectrum of an herb beyond a certain limit if one wants to abide the classical principles of herbal substances and their formulas.
Some substances are easier to concentrate and hence they have higher concentration factors, others are more difficult and hence they have lower factors. This is based on the above principle.[i]
Some substances are delicate to concentrate and require special attention. Very light materials have very short boiling times and in order to prevent the escape of their essential oils, special machinery captures those oils (in form of vapour) and reunites with the extract. Some materials easily damage if they have prolonged exposure to high temperatures (during boiling). Others aren’t very water soluble and would need ethanol to be concentrated.
Minerals are rocks and how can you concentrate a rock by boiling it in water? Hence a lot of minerals come in 1:1 and are not concentrated. Gelatins are not concentrated because they are already boiled in the process of becoming a gelatin.[ii]
Since granulated extracts have been introduced, most representative suppliers advertise their concentration factors as 5:1 which are applied in most clinics using granulated extracts.
- How much does this 5:1 ratio guide your daily dosage?
- Do you calculate it by diligently using five times less of granules compared to the traditional raw herb dosage?
- Or do you use a standard daily dosage that is easily applicable with your patient?
- And what are your results?
- Do you use the principle of more in a shorter period of time and then stop or do you use a smaller daily dosage but prescribe for a longer period of time?
The point is, how much do you know or anticipate in therapeutic application when using granulated extracts. Although they have been part of the Chinese medicine industry in Australia for over 20 years, I don’t feel entirely confident that we all know that we ought to know about them.