Chaste tree in powdered form is available in tablet or capsule forms. Simply pulverized herbs are referred to as powders, and as far as the chaste tree is concerned, the powdered seeds are called powders. The seeds of the chaste tree are powdered, and they are not processed in any other way. This is the method in which herb powders are generally prepared, and this means that such powders can be extremely cost effective. However, it must be noted that powders reduce the shelf life of the product, because of the basic fact that all powdered herbs must be utilized within a year of their manufacture. In addition, the quantity of the powders to be taken has to be more, as compared to other forms. Take for instance liquid extract. One dropperful of liquid extract generally equals about three capsules of powder, depending on the quality of the herb being referred to.
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In Europe, liquid and powdered extracts are the two most common products containing chaste tree. Most scientific research on the properties and qualities of the chaste tree has been performed on the Agnolyt, a liquid extract. Liquid extract is also referred to as 'tincture'. Tincture of the chaste tree is generally made from the seeds of the chaste tree, by grinding them into a powder, and thereafter, soaking the powder in a solvent of grain alcohol and water, and leaving it undisturbed for several weeks. The solvent acts as an absorbent, and concentrates all the active constituents of the herb, and later, the remaining solids from the powder are pressed and filtered out. Tincture or the liquid extract has been proven to be an excellent medicine, because of the fact that the alcohol used as a solvent in its manufacture acts as a carrier, and this can stimulate digestion somewhat, facilitate assimilation, and also act as an excellent preservative. In general, liquid extracts must be able to hold all their active properties for a period extending up to three years, if they are kept stored in a cool place, away from direct sunlight. One must note that the amount of alcohol that is used in one average dosage of the liquid extracts of herbs is quite insignificant; there is about forty drops in one dropperful of tincture, and this is to be further diluted in a glassful of water or juice before consumption, and this can mean that the alcohol content in the extract can be stated to be negligible, that is, it is less than 0.1 % per dosage.
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Herbs are also available in another form of extract, a glycerite. This extract is made from made from glycerin derived from either animal or vegetable sources, but one must be careful and give the product due consideration before purchasing them. One problem lies in the fact that the source of the glycerin used may be either animal or vegetable, and one must ascertain this fact with the manufacturer before making the purchase. Secondly, one must be aware of the fact that glycerin can be irritating and drying to the throat, just like alcohol may be. It may at times even irritate the digestive system, and it is for this reason that it is always advisable to take glycerites in water. Another problem may be that glycerites are not in general as concentrated in nature as tinctures maybe. In the manufacture of a glycerite, the herbs must first be extracted in alcohol; after which the alcohol has to be removed by heating. As a final step, the glycerin is added. It must be remembered that in such a case, not all the active constituents that were dissolved in the alcohol may eventually be present in the glycerin solution, because of the simple fact that glycerin's properties as a solvent differ from those of alcohol. Therefore, a one-ounce bottle of a glycerite might be weaker than a bottle of alcohol-based tincture of similar quantity. As far as the chaste tree is concerned, the herb's active constituents are not entirely known, but it is generally assumed that they are flavonoids or resinoid compounds, both of which are more soluble in the alcohol than in glycerin.
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The making of a powdered extract is basically much the same as the manufacture of tincture, but this is taken one step further. The liquid is "spray-dried" under a flash of hot air into a vacuum, and this process will dry up the liquid extract very quickly, into a powder, which has been stripped of certain constituents that are not considered medicinally important, like for example, fatty oil, fiber, and starch. The resultant powder is thereafter pressed into capsules or tablets. These can be assimilated rather rapidly into the body, in much the same way as liquid extracts are.
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It is a simple matter indeed, to make one's own tea. However, one must make sure that the herbs that one uses for the tea are fresh and are of excellent quality. Chaste tree is freely available, and can be purchased in bulk at an herb or natural food store. It is fortunate that the shelf life of an entire chaste tree is quite long. The reason is that the fruits of the chaste tree are covered in a hard shell, and as mentioned earlier, the fruits are the main part of the tree that are used in the manufacture of herbal medicine. However, one must note that as soon as the fruits are ground into powder, the oxygen present in the atmosphere begins to break down the plant's active chemical substances. Therefore, it is a wiser idea to buy the fruits in bulk, in its whole state, that is, as complete fruits, and then powder small quantities whenever needed to make either tea or capsules. Since the fruits of the chaste tree do carry a spicy and bitter taste, one can try mixing them with chamomile, a little licorice, and ginger to enhance the flavor a bit. This would not affect the medicinal activity or properties of the chaste tree much.
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The form of chaste tree that one chooses to take, be it liquid glycerite, alcohol based extract, powdered herb in capsules, powdered extract in capsules or tablets, or even homemade tea-is actually an individual preference. Therefore, one of the most important considerations is to use a high-quality herb or herbal product that is fresh and not too old. It is also a wise idea to choose an herb that is certified organically-grown: this information can usually be found printed on the package label. This is because organic farming in general supports the natural growth-cycle of plants, does not contribute to our planet's environmental pollution, and preserves the wild populations of plants. Wild plants are today increasingly being over harvested and used in making herbal medicines for the increasing population, and this is something that must be avoided at any cost. Organically grown fruits of the chaste tree are not yet commercially available, and this means that much of the herb is harvested from the wild forests of southern Europe.
When one is contemplating trying out herbal products as remedies, one must remember that the quality of the herbal product must always be the best, so that the optimum benefits of trying out these remedies would be obtained. In addition, there are three main factors that one must consider before trying out an herbal remedy. They are: one, the age of the product being tried, two, the potency of the herb as available in the market, and three, the form of the herbal product.
How can one find out the age of the product? One must observe carefully the 'manufacture date' or the 'pull date' of the product as displayed on the bottle or box. This is what is otherwise known as the 'sell by' or 'expiration date'. A liquid product or tincture must never be over three years old, and capsules cannot be more than one and one-half years old, and ideally, capsules can be just about a year old at the time of purchase. These facts must be ascertained before purchasing the product. If one finds that there is no date on the bottle or box, then one must call and ask the manufacturer when the herb was bottled. He would be able to tell the date of manufacture by looking at the lot number of the product, and if he finds that there is no lot number mentioned on the bottle, then one must simply walk away without buying the product.
How does one ascertain the potency of the product one is buying? One must spread the whole herb, or the powder from a capsule in the palm of one's hand. One must then rub the powder back and forth on the palm with the help of the thumb. This action must release the various volatile oils present in the herb. When the hands are smelt, one must be able to obtain a clearly rich, resinous, aromatic scent. If, on the other hand, one is only able to obtain a moldy and stale smell, then one must reject the bottle immediately, because the potency of the herb has been lost already. One must always remember not to feel too self conscious about returning the bottle to the shelf and not buying it. One can explain to the store owner or the manufacturer why the bottle is being rejected, and this may in fact be a blessing in disguise for the owner, because of the simple fact that customer responses are crucial towards maintaining the quality of the herbs that they are selling. This may mean that the next time, they will be able to pay closer attention to what they are selling, and its quality. As one knows, there are some very good herbal products available, and also some that aren't so good, and by choosing carefully, one would be making prudent and sensible purchases and also at the same time help in raising the general quality of the herbal products on the marketplace.
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