“Do you trust the Solomon’s Seal herbal remedy you purchase from an Internet retailer?” It is a question worth asking in this day of exaggerated claims, product fillers, mislabeling, and wide price differences.
If you obtain your remedy from our small family business, Cortesia Herbal Products, you can be certain of its freshness, quality and potency. You can trust our 40 years of experience creating organic herbal remedies that meet current regulatory standards. In fact, over 15 years ago, we became the most trusted source of information about the medicinal herb Solomon’s Seal on the Internet. But over time, things have changed, especially regarding herbal information and products available. What has changed most is TRUST!
So, I ask the question, can you trust the Solomon’s Seal herbal supplement from Internet giants like Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, eBay, and the like? I can only answer that question with one word: Caution! This can be the case with numerous herbal supplements, but let me specifically address my concern about the marketing of the ancient herb our company is proud of: Solomon’s Seal.
Embarrassed Loyal Customers
Are you a small business competing with giant Internet retailers offering huge discounts and free 1-2 day shipping? — well, good luck! Our business, for example, does not have a huge volume of inventory with large mark-ups that can be discounted or give us preferential shipping rates. In short, customers are precious, and we aim to treat them with special consideration.
However, the Internet gives people the opportunity to comparison shop, both for quality, content and price. Admittedly, this is hugely beneficial, but a customer should also weigh purchasing with trustworthiness of the product and manufacturer. For example, this past year we have had loyal customers admit to trying Solomon’s Seal tinctures from giant Internet retailers. They admitted that price was a major factor, because they could get, for example, a four-ounce bottle of tincture at a price lower than our two-ounce size. Heck, why not try it, right?
In every instance, and with embarrassment, our loyal customers have stated that they perceived little benefit at all, when compared to our potent Solomon’s Seal tinctures. How can that be so? There may be numerous reasons, but I simply want to highlight an important one on which to base trust: the method of extraction of the medicinal constituents of an herb like Solomon’s Seal.
Not All Herbs Extract Equally
Extensive research, observation, and anecdotal use of plant medicines for thousands of years has allowed the creation of formalized bodies of knowledge, called herbal pharmacopoeias, that give the herbalist specific information necessary to optimally process the plant.
Herbs and plants can be processed and used in different ways and forms, including the whole herb, teas, syrups, essential oils, ointments, salves, rubs, capsules, and tablets that contain a ground or powdered form of a raw herb or its dried extract. The extraction of the medicinal constituents of an herb can vary with the solvent used for extraction, temperature, and extraction time. Extraction includes alcoholic or glycerin extracts (tinctures), vinegars (acetic acid extracts), hot water extract (tisanes), long-term boiled extract (usually roots or bark for decoctions), and cold infusion of plants (macerates). As many herbalists know, components of an herbal extract or a product are likely to vary significantly between batches and producers, and with the extractor used. (learn more HERE)
So, why aren’t the Solomon’s Seal remedies our loyal customers have sampled from other Internet retailers (especially the giants) very effective? I decided to research a few companies making the Solomon’s Seal tinctures to determine how they were made, and where. The main reason was this: for many of the giant retailers, the Solomon’s Seal tincture was created using vegetable glycerin as the extractor of the Odoratum species of Solomon’s Seal native to Asia, and this is not right.
Let me say that glycerin-based remedies are very safe (especially for children), but there is a concern or two when considering their use. Let me share. (HERE is an excellent article about alcohol vs. glycerin-based tinctures)
- A first concern is that vegetable glycerin (actually a kind of alcohol) is a benign substitute for the superior extractor, alcohol (ethanol), but may be inappropriate for certain plants
Glycerin tends to make a tincture sweeter and smoother to take, and is excellent for extracting specific tannins in plants. However, and very importantly, historically known qualities and constituents of each plant must be considered — the fact is, some plant constituents extract best with alcohol, and others do well with glycerin or just water.
The plants we use in our herbal remedies, and especially Solomon’s Seal, MUST be extracted with alcohol in order to capture the medicinal constituents. This is simply a time-proven fact. Therefore, the Solomon’s Seal remedies found in many of the big Online retailers — remedies made with a glycerin extract — do not contain the optimal medicinal constituents as found in alcohol-based ones. In short, they will not perform well when compared to alcohol-extraction tinctures.
- A second concern about glycerin-based Solomon’s Seal tinctures: most are made in China or Asia
Asian-based tinctures mostly use the Odoratum species of Solomon’s Seal (which is excellent for respiratory health, by the way!), not the commonly researched and more diverse North American and European biblorum or multiflorum varieties. I also discovered that most companies on the labels have no address, website, or contact information. This is not good! Quite frankly, as an herbalist with many years experience, I have heightened caution when purchasing herbs or supplements originating from China and Asia. The environmental pollution of soils and water sources, and the corruption within the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries, including organic certification systems, do not warrant absolute trust.
- A third and important concern in using glycerin is spoilage
Glycerin is susceptible to heat and light, thereby creating product spoilage quickly. A remedy has a short shelf life (at best, a year or less compared to an alcohol-based tincture of almost indefinitely!), especially in more warm environments; so, the remedy must be used quickly. Glycerin is cheap, compared to alcohol, but it is simply the wrong extractor for many medicinal herbs, as history supports, and the medicine can go bad quickly if not properly stored.
The best gift you are ever going to give someone — the permission to feel safe in their own skin.
Herbal Remedies: Whom Can You Trust?
Quite frankly, purchasing herbal remedies or raw herbs on the Internet can be a crapshoot. What is necessary is a basis on which to trust the retailer. The most trusted source may in fact be a small business in which the owners are qualified by education, training, experience, and accessibility. But even this demands caution, as one must question where products are made, under what conditions, in what amount, and if created properly within FDA and other regulatory guidelines.
Fifteen years ago on the Internet, we found ourselves elevated quickly as the definitive source of information and remedies using Solomon’s Seal. People, in short, trust the information we provide and the remedies we create. Since then, numerous sites now sell Solomon’s Seal remedies and comment about the health benefits of this ancient herb, often using information gathered from our website and articles.
Indeed, Solomon’s Seal continues to be researched worldwide for its diversity. As a blessed gift of nature, it deserves to be used and processed properly to provide its optimal benefits. Sadly, most of the public is uninformed about the intricate details of creating fresh herbal extracts and supplements from live plants. More critical, however, is the fact that most people are not knowledgeable of the difference in effectiveness of an herbal extract made with glycerin as compared to alcohol.
In general, many people in North America, including medical practitioners, are inadequately informed about the wide range of health possibilities gained from the use of herbs and plants. Preparation of the raw material in such a way that draws out the absolute medicinal qualities is key to potency and effectiveness.
This is why you should think twice about purchasing any Solomon’s Seal products made with a glycerin base. Furthermore, you should always trust your health to a qualified professional who helps educate you about the benefits and cautions of using medicinal herbs. Lastly, you should peruse the Internet marketplace with a discerning eye for trust.
While we can’t give health advice of any kind, we sure do know a lot about herbs and are happy to speak with you at any time about their properties and proper usage.