I had a great off-the-cuff conversation with a patient Friday that I thought everyone should know.  As happens often, this patient was walking out the door and remembered she was going to ask me something about the health reports she keeps getting in the mail.  If you order any kind of natural health books, info, reports, or darn near anything your name ends up in a huge database.  In time you start getting lots of mail to buy this herb from the deepest recesses of the amazon jungle that only appears for one day, and that vitmain that no one has ever heard of because they just discovered it on the moon.

The hard part about these mailings is that they are written by professional copywriters  and they get a token M.D. to stand in and be the front man.  They look fabuluous and can part the seas.  I see the twinkle in every patients eyes when they have a chance to be pain free in 1 week and all their joint damage will be erased.  The written word is powerful when used by a professional.

These are tough calls to make as a doctor.

I can’t recommend these for various reasons and it isn’t because the herbs don’t work.  This is how I advised the patient.  In reality, the product won’t hurt the person and may even make them feel a little better.  They had 2 anti-inflammatory herbs and natural aspirin in there.  So sure, they will likely feel a little better.   To buy the product is clearly up to the patient, unless I see something dangerous in there.  Diet supplements are the ones you really need to watch closely.  They are often jacked up with adrenal stimulants.

Here is the problem that I pointed out to the patient that you can go and check yourself.

When perusing the literature the product was in a nutshell:

  • For joint and pain relief
  • $40
  • Mixed with other herbs
  • Main herb was Boswellia Serrata 150mg (no extract ratio)
I thought this was interesting because I just took 2 Boswellia Complex (from Mediherb) that morning.  It is a great anti-inflammatory.  You are never going to find 2 identical products from different companies, so I attempted to just explain quality differences in herbs

So here is my Boswellia complex in a nutshell:

  • For joint and pain relief (anti-inflammatory)
  • $20.50
  • Mixed with other herbs
  • Main herb was Boswellia Serrata 277mg (7:1 extract ratio)

Supplement FactsServing Size: 1 tablet
Servings per Container: 30, 90Amount per Serving%DVCalories5Calcium40 mg4%Boswellia gum oleoresin 7:1 extract
from Boswellia serrata gum
oleoresin 1.9 g
Containing boswellic acids 180 mg277 mg†Celery Seed fruit 6:1 extract
from Apium graveolens fruit 1.0 g166.7 mg†Ginger rhizome 5:1 extract
from Zingiber officinale rhizome
300 mg60 mg†Turmeric rhizome 25:1 extract
from Curcuma longa rhizome 2.0 g
Containing curcuminoids 70.4 mg80 mg†† Daily Value (DV) not established.

This is where is gets interesting.  We have an herbalist on-call and believe me over the years I’ve called her a lot.  A really good herbal company always puts the EXTRACT ratio on the label.  It looks like this (7:1) or (4:1) or any variation of that.  That is the fastest and easiest way to tell if you even need to investigate any further.  What that means is if a label doesn’t contain an extract ratio I don’t buy it.



The one thing I’ve learned over the years about herbs, is that you need to be getting (on average) at least 2000mg of herb or the equivalent.  Some of our herbs have a dose of 6000mg.  Here is why most people are getting ripped off.  They look at the fancy label and a laundry list of ingredients and go “WOW” there is a lot in here, this is a much better supplement.  The problem is they only have 100-250mg of herb, with no extract ratio.  Go ahead look at your bottles.

So why does that EXTRACT ratio make such a difference?

Well grasshopper… this is where the rubber meets the road.  The extract ration tells you how concentrated the herbal preparation is, so you have to multiply the ratio number by the mg to get an equivalent dosage.  In our example above…

The Boswellia complex I as taking was 277mg with a (7:1 extract ratio)

we take 277 * 7= 1,939mg in one capsule.

Overall comparison:

Advertised supplement

Boswellia Complex

You’d have to spend $517.06 to get the same amount of herb from her flashy advertising supplement company.

Herbs aren’t made the same and many herbs can be switched out for others that look exactly identical to cheat the manufacturer.  Not all companies have the expensive chemistry equipment to analyze the potency. Quality matters!  An expensive herbal product doesn’t automatically make it better.

Basic rules to follow:

#1 Look for an extract ratio
#2 Avoid USA manufactured herbs.

There is only a food grade standard for quality.  Other countries have a pharmaceutical grade standard.  Which really improves quality and potency and label accuracy.  This is why we buy our herbs from Mediherb, an Australian company.  Their more potent than any other herb preps I’ve seen.  Mediherb is not available in stores so if your only access is a natural food store, at least look for an extract ratio.  It may seem expensive but compared to what you get it is often much cheaper for the potency.

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    I've been a chiropractor for 14 years and feel very strongly that people need to experience the amazing benefits of a chiropractic adjustment. I hope to always exceed your expectations in chiropractic and natural health care!


    September 2012