Herbal supplements have many health benefits. Many of them are potent antioxidants. Some have antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and antitumor properties. Some improve general bodily functions such as digestion, mental clarity, circulation, hormonal balance, etc. Many people also consume herbal supplements to prevent and treat common ailments and improve the overall well beings.
Herbal supplements contain active constituents extracted from dry or fresh herbs. These active constituents can be divided into two main groups based on their chemical properties, hydrophilic (water loving) and lipophilic (oil loving). Traditionally, hydrophilic compounds are extracted in water and ethanol whereas lipophilic compounds are extracted in chemical solvents such as acetone and hexane.
The use of chemical solvents in extracting lipophilic compounds has raised some health, environmental and safety concerns in recently years. First of all, there is a small amount of toxic residues left after the extraction process, which can pose a health threat to the consumers. Secondly, the disposal of organic solvents is detrimental to the environment. And lastly, these chemical solvents are toxic and highly volatile, handling of these chemicals require extreme caution.
Unfortunately, the major active constituents in many herbs such as ginger, St. John’s Wort, valerian, rosemary are lipophilic. In the past, they were extracted by organic solvents such as acetone and hexane. But the advance in new technologies has provided safer alternative to the food industry. Supercritical fluid extraction is one of these new technologies. It allows health food manufacturers to produce cleaner, more potent and stable herbal products.
Supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) using carbon dioxide (CO2) is an improved extraction method. Carbon dioxide is non-toxic, non-explosive and can be readily removed from the finished products and recycled. It does not pose any hazardous problems to the environment. The extraction takes place without high temperature heating and boiling so the extracted products are more stable. In addition, the extraction yields a highly concentrated herbal extract.
In comparison, chemical extraction using organic solvents leaves adsorbed chemical residues in the finished products. The solvents may react with the active compounds and degrade them. To remove the solvents from the extracted products, high temperature heating is required, which may degrade the active constituents. As a result, the quality of the extracted products is generally inferior to that from supercritical fluid extraction.
The commercial application of supercritical fluid technology is still limited to few high valued products due to high investment costs and new operation. New chapter is one premium brand producing herbal and fatty acid supplements using this new technology. With the increasing public demand of purer, cleaner nutritional supplements, one may assume that more companies would be applying this new extraction technology in the near future.
It’s no mystery why we take supplements. The body is a complicated mechanism that fights every day to preserve its own well-being. Therefore, the body needs plenty of nutritional support that foods can’t always adequately provide. Because of high starch content, bleaching and over processing, many foods don’t contain enough minerals to adequately support the body. A deficiency of just one or more nutrients can leave the body vulnerable to disease. Furthermore, we must acknowledge that we each have biochemical individuality, so our bodies require different things depending on our age, environment, activity level and genetic makeup. The same goes for our pets. Every dog and cat is unique and requires specific increases in nutrients for many reasons.
Also, our pets’ demand for certain nutrients fluctuates. Vitamin B is great support to the body during stressful periods and additional zinc is a helpful nutrient for many breeds; such as, huskies. No matter how well a diet is formulated, there are always nutrients, which are not in the diet. The body knows what it needs and it has its ways of communicating these things to us. It is up to us to pay attention to our animals’ behavior as well as their appearance to make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need. For instance, is your cat sleeping more than usual these days? Or does your dog have less of an appetite? Perhaps they need supplements. It doesn’t hurt to try supplements to see how your pets respond to them. You may see a drastic change in their mannerisms or their appearance. When we give our pets supplements in conjunction with healthy well-balanced meals, their bodies intelligently draw what they need from the supplements and allocate them properly. Rather than taking a specific vitamin or mineral in calculated amounts, herbs deliver many nutrients in various amounts to the parts of the body that require it.
Chose a dog supplement that contains the rather unusual Ester C (Calcium Ascorbate), which is non-acidic, rich in calcium and other minerals and better absorbed than regular Vitamin C. It is usually not added to dog foods because it was once thought that dogs don’t require C because they manufacture it in their liver.
This way of thinking about dogs is archaic because we must now consider the way dogs’ eating habits have evolved from years of domestication. Out in the wild, dogs ate prey that had intestines filled with grasses that contained C. Now at home, they eat the foods we give them and they occasionally take a bite out of the neighbor’s lawn. Now, it seems as if dogs aren’t getting enough C. Vitamin C, considered a vital antioxidant, supports the bone, teeth and gums, blood vessels and the immune system. Nutritionists consider it a “conditionally essential” nutrient, meaning that it is needed in higher amounts during certain times in the animal’s life such as sickness, separation anxiety, stress from shows, visits to vets and confinement due to long distance trips.
Just like humans, it is recommended all supplements be taken along with plenty of exercise and proper diet.