Plants are a rich source of phytonutrients such at flavonoids and anthocyanins which are powerful antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and in some cases proteins. The complex mixtures of these products in plants are called natural products. The composition of these complex mixtures is influenced by the environment they grow in. The soil condition, age of the plant, collection time, drying and storage conditions can affect the consistency of natural products. The composition of natural products can also differ from location to location. Given the complex mixtures of various compounds in natural products, it is important to standardize natural products like other pharmaceuticals to make these remedies evidence-based medicines. The World health organisation (WHO) has emphasized the need to ensure quality control of herbal products because standardised extracts is different from crude extracts. It assures not only the identification of the herb but also quality and consistency at every extraction. By identifying bioactive compounds in natural products, marker compounds selective for the herb can be identified and quantified to ensure every batch of natural product is consistent. This is important to do, to ensure that the same benefits and goodness is delivered in every pack of product! If the extract is not standardized, then the expected benefits cannot be guaranteed as the amount of bioactive compounds may not be the same in every product batch.
Plant products sold in the market are sometimes ground or can be extracted using various solvents such as water or ethanol. How it is prepared determines the composition, safety and effectiveness of the product. Tongkat Ali for example which has been traditionally drunk as tonic (water infused) is currently produced in a technologically advanced manner. The standardized water extract has been researched in depth in humans and animals with outstanding safety and efficacy. It has been scientifically and clinically shown to improve muscle strength and size, increase physical and mental energy, reduce fatigue and stress; and improve sexual health and fertility. This effect cannot be qualified in products prepared through ground roots for example since the quantity of active compounds is too little compared to an equal weight ofa water extracted Tongkat Ali root. This is also true if the extract is prepared differently ie using chemical solvents like ethanol. Only water extracted Tongkat Ali is proven for safe and effective use through extensive human use and research.
So when you go out to purchase your favourite Tongkat Ali product, look for standardized root water extract which is supported by science!