Gaia Herbs harvest protocol validation process ensures the high quality of herbal ingredients, whether grown on site or purchased from outside suppliers. A Harvest Protocol form must be filled out, which details such things as condition of the plant material (fresh or dry); harvest and environmental conditions (harvest date, time, technique, weather conditions); cleaning process; drying processes, etc. and incorporates documentation of Certificates of Authenticity or 3rd party certifications.
Microscopy is a botanical identification technique that utilizes microscopes to identify samples or objects using structural features (cell types, mineral deposits, oil droplets) that cannot be seen with the unaided eye.
Organoleptic refers to any sensory properties of a product, involving appearance, taste, color, odor and feel. Botanical specialists and laboratory scientists, trained in the use of such properties, use organoleptic testing to validate the identity of the herbal ingredients
Gaia's Certified Organic, 250-acre farm (which includes an on-site, state-of-the-art validation laboratory and production facility) is also a "living laboratory", where Gaia studies, observes and learns from nature. Located in the southwestern Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina (one of the most divers bioregions of North America), Gaia Farm grows over 5 million plants each year, supplying approximately 25% of the herbs Gaia uses in production.
Starting close to home with Appalachian regional growers and expanding to bioregions around the world, Gaia works with Certified Organic growers that specialize in crops that Gaia does not grow on their own farm or that supplement their supply. These growers adhere to the same standards for organic cultivation that Gaia does at their farm. Certified Organic Farmers supply nearly 35% of the herbs that Gaia uses in the products.
This term represents Gaia's network of ecologically sensitive wild crafters who gather native herbs in the wild and sell them directly to Gaia. Providing nearly 25% of the raw material each year, these individuals must steward the land upon which they harvest promoting ethical and sustainable practices.
Ecologically Harvested is a term that describes all herbs sold by Gaia Herbs that are not certified organic. Ecologically harvested herbs include herbs that are harvested in their natural habitat, (ie: wild harvested) according to specific guidelines for harvesting these herbs (ie: away from roads and industry, as well as guidelines to avoid overharvesting). The term, Ecologically Harvested, also includes herbs that are grown in managed woodland areas, and herbs that are grown by indigenous growers, such as Kava Kava. All ecologically harvested herbs pass pesticide and heavy metal testing as well as microbial testing, prior to release.
These partners represent trusted wholesalers and brokers with connections to farmers and wild crafters around the world, beyond their own direct relationships. Gaia requires that these partners - and the individuals they represent, uphold the Gaia Principles of Purity in order to ensure the purity of these raw materials and have a positive effect on the planet and the communities where the herbs are sourced.
Many of the herbs trace to their own Certified Organic farms in North Carolina. Gaia is tracing any non-Gaia Farm-grown herbs to geographical regions within the US and to bioregions within other continental land masses-like Amazonia or Northern Africa-because those are more meaningful to endemic habitats where the herbs naturally occur or to places where they have been grown traditionally for centuries. For example, Kava Kava traces to the Pacific island archipelago region of Oceania and Maca traces to the Andean region of South America.
Over nearly 25 years in herbal manufacturing, Gaia Herbs has cultivated and developed key relationships with certain growers and ingredient suppliers that are proprietary in nature. As botanical supplements have gone more and more mainstream, it has become quite challenging for Gaia Herbs to source premium-quality certified organic and ecologically harvested raw botanical materials beyond what Gaia grows themselves. Gaia recognized when they developed MYH that this program could also be used by market competitors as a sort of "yellow pages directory" to their supply chain. To prevent much larger, much better financed companies from threatening the integrity of the supply chain, Gaia has had to keep certain vendors' names proprietary for the time being. This will change over time due to investments Gaia is making in building internal horticultural supply capacity for most of these ingredients. Gaia welcomes other botanical supplement manufacturers to match Gaia Herbs' transparency commitments, and they welcome the scrutiny of consumers and practitioners to assure that Gaia Herbs' degree of transparency remains unsurpassed.
HPLC stands for High Performance Liquid Chromatography. This technique is used to separate plant extracts into individual chemical constituents, which can then be used for identification purposes (qualitative analysis) or to measure the amount of chemical or chemicals present in the extract (quantitative analysis). HPLC is used to identify raw materials and determine biomarker concentrations.
The NeoGen Soleris instrument monitors total bacteria, yeast and mold, and E.coli analyses in an automated platform. Raw materials and finished products are processed and added to Soleris - specific vials that contain microbial growing medium. If the introduced sample contains microbes, they begin to grow and cause a color change in the growing medium solution. The instrument detects the change in color and assigns a "fail" to that sample. If no color change occurs, then the sample is assigned a "pass".
GC/MS stands for Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry. At Gaia, the primary role of the GC/MS is the testing of all raw herbs for a wide array of pesticides. GC/MS utilizes a combination of gas phase and liquid phase separation of the raw herb extract. This method separates all chemical constituents and then analyzes them by the equally powerful Mass Spectrometer, which allows the lab to search for individual pesticides in the raw herb.
UV-VIS stands for Ultra Violet - Visible Spectroscopy, which is a process that uses light absorption in the visible range and adjacent ranges of the color spectrum to detect a class of phyto-chemicals of herbal materials. This technique is used for determining the concentration of biomarker(s) in extracts without chromatographic separation.
A biomarker is a chemical within a plant extract that is used to either identify a plant extract (i.e. a chemical or group of chemicals that are specific to that plant) or to gauge the medicinal quality of an herb (i.e the biomarker is known to be the biologically active ingredient or medicine).
Biomarker concentration refers to the amount of a biomarker present in a given quantity of raw material (herb) or extract.
This stands for Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry. This machine is the centerpiece of Gaia's heavy metals testing. This powerful technique is capable of observing a wide range of metal at quantities as low as nanograms of metals in a sample. The ICP-MS allows Gaia to obtain precise and sensitive data for all materials in a high speed manner. The plasma vaporizes all the material and breaks it down to the atomic level. The mass spectrometer is then able to detect all atoms of interest.
The term "standardized" in botanical extracts refers to delivering a consistent, measurable concentration of a recognized phyto-constituent in a botanical dietary supplement product. This is necessary because the natural variability in herbal products-due to geographical, seasonal, horticultural, and post-harvest handling factors-causes natural variability in the quality and potency of finished herbal products. Herbs like Milk Thistle, St. John's Wort, and Echinacea are often standardized to guaranteed marker compound concentrations to provide the end consumer a therapeutically meaningful dose. However, "standardization" can also mean that herbal products provide these marker compounds at the expense of the natural array of phyto-chemistry that nature has co-evolved into the herb. This can occur with herbal products that have been overly refined, purified, or even "spiked" with marker compound. Gaia Herbs uses only safe, ingestible, non-GMO grain alcohol and water as solvents in liquid extract manufacturing. Gaia uses only low-temperature/low-pressure methods to concentrate herbal extracts to their desired marker concentration levels, ensuring that the full spectrum of available phyto-chemistry remains in a fluid state throughout the manufacturing process. This full-spectrum array is then validated using state-of-the-art laboratory analytical techniques like HPLC and GC/MS to ensure the finished product retains this composition.
How is dosage determined?
Consideration is given for the concentration of the extract and for the specific use of the extract. If an individual is heavier or has a more robust constitution, the higher range of the suggested use may be consumed. Contrarily, if a person weighs less or has a more fragile constitution, the lower range of the suggested use should be consumed. Please keep in mind that not all brands of extracts carry the same concentration.
You can reduce the amount of alcohol by boiling about 3 ounces of hot water, put this in a glass, then add the drops to the hot water and let it sit for 5 minutes. This will evaporate off approximately 60% of the alcohol. If you are sensitive to alcohol, you can take Liquid Phyto-Caps or liquid alcohol-free extracts.
The recommendations for dose and duration of treatment found on the labels. Your health care professional will need to be consulted for your specific needs.
Not for all companies! In fact, only the most reputable companies capable of extracting first with USP grain alcohol, then distilling off the alcohol and testing the finished product with High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) instruments can claim that their alcohol-free products are as concentrated as the alcohol extracts. Many companies extract the herbs for their alcohol-free products with vegetable glycerin. Unfortunately, vegetable glycerin is not a good solvent and cannot effectively extract the same constituents that grain alcohol can extract.
Because herbal preparations have specific constituents that target specific receptor sites within the body, it is important that they be taken thoughtfully. Unless specifically indicated, it is best to take one herbal preparation apart from another by allowing at least 20 minutes passing. Many herbs do combine well together and in fact are enhanced when combined. Herbal compounds that are scientifically formulated enable the formula to produce a result that is specific and desirable. It takes much knowledge to properly combine herbal preparations together. When unsure whether 2 or more single herbs or preparations may be combined, ask your herbal professional.
Although there are many herbs that are safe to use during pregnancy, it is recommended that herbs should not be used during pregnancy. Gaia does this because they believe that if you are pregnant and wish to use herbs to maintain a strong and healthy pregnancy that you consult a naturopathic doctor, licensed herbalist, or licensed holistic health practitioner qualified to guide you in the safe use of herbs during pregnancy.
The nature of the condition should determine the length of use of the herbal extract. If the condition is acute or is of a superficial nature, the extract may be used for a shorter period of time, such as 1-3 weeks. If the condition is chronic or deeper, then it is appropriate to use the extract for 3-4 months or longer. There are always exceptions, and it is wise to always follow the recommendations provided on the label. Regardless of how long the extract is used, please consider the following rule of thumb: If an extract is to be used for more than 1 week, then take 6 days on and 1 day off. If an extract is used for more than 6 weeks, then take 6 weeks on and 1 week off, with a day off each week. If an extract is to be used for more than 6 months, then take 6 months on and 1 month off, with a day off each week. The periodic time off from using the herbal extract allows for the full benefit of the herb to be fully integrated into the constitution.
Pure grain alcohol is used to prepare herbal extracts because it functions very well as a solvent and as a preservative. The properties of alcohol enable it to effectively mobilize the constituents that are active in plants from with the plants' cell wall and bring them into solution. This is simply a process of predigesting the plant. In this way, when the extract is ingested, there is 100% absorption and 100% bioavailability. This is so important, especially if one's digestive functions are impaired or one needs a response from the herbal preparation quickly. Liquid herbal extracts work quickly. Because they do not need to move through the first pass of the liver for digestion, they enter the bloodstream immediately and affect their receptor sites within the body within minutes after consumption. Pure grain alcohol also acts as a wonderful preservative. A liquid herbal extract will remain stable for over 5 years, while crude herb capsules and tablets tend to degrade very quickly. Effectiveness of herbal tablets and capsules containing dry crude herbs is minimal.
Gaia Herbs makes its Alcohol-Free products from the same extracts that they make within their regular line of products. Once the extract is complete, they then remove the alcohol using low-heat and low-vacuum and replace the alcohol with pure, kosher, vegetable glycerin. Alcohol-free herbal extracts contain the same concentration (with the exception of Kava Kava and Milk Thistle) as regular extracts. Gaia does not extract with glycerin because glycerin is not an effective extracting menstruum for most plants. They do not flavor any alcohol-free extracts because the flavoring agents used in many commercial glycerin-based products will disguise the chemistry of the herb and thus one may not benefit fully from the therapeutic value of the flavored glycerites.
Gaia Herbs' glycerin is derived from the following oils; GMO free rape seed oil, GMO free soy oil, palm oil and coconut oil. Their glycerin is a distilled product and therefore ensures that it does not contain any protein derived allergens. This product is OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) certified for use in organic products and is manufactured in Europe.
Gaia's mission is to bring vitality to -and create a connection between -plants and people. Their goal is larger than simply producing high-quality, potent herbal products. As steward of coevolution -the knowledge that plants and people have evolved together on Earth, forming a symbiotic connection as a result- Gaia is committed to leading the way in fostering the connection between plant and people. Gaia believes they must do all that they can to preserve the Plant Intelligence within each herb. Gaia must "plant intelligence" for the future. And they must continue to learn from Nature and encourage the sharing of this knowledge with others.
How Gaia proceed forward in accordance with the virtues of harmony is as important as what they produce. At Gaia Herb, they hold themselves- and everything they produce- accountable to the virtues of purity, integrity, and potency. These are the pillars supporting their belief, their actions, and their commitment.
Each herb must be cultivated in accordance with nature's intent. In order to deliver herbal medicines of assured purity, Gaia adheres to a stringent set of principles-rules they uphold as a company at Gaia Farm, and that their Certified Organic Farmers, Land Steward Harvesters, and Validated Partners must also follow.
These basic tenets are the foundation of the Gaia Principles of Purity-processes and protocols beneficial to both plants and people:
As Gaia creates herbal medicines, they must ensure the fullest possible expression of each herb. As herbal ingredients move through the production process, they are committed to using the right extraction technology and ideal concentration methods to act in accordance with the physical properties of the herb. With every herb that they process in their GMP compliant facility they apply only Full Spectrum processing technology. Their full spectrum processing involves choosing the ideal extraction and concentration methods to maintain the integrity of each individual plant. They do not isolate or purify a single active plant compound all on its own, nor are chemical or synthetic compounds ever added to their extracts. Instead, they deliver the complete natural array of the plant's compounds as intended by Nature, in order to facilitate the optimal physiological cascade of benefits within the body.
The structure and nature of every plant is unique. To preserve the integrity of these chemical constituents during extraction, Gaia must choose the right method for the right herb, every time.
For some herbs, the bioactive constituents are water-soluble, and can be extracted by dissolving them in water, like making tea. For others, they use organic hydroethanolic extraction that utilizes water in combination with pure, food-grade grain alcohol, carefully adjusting alcohol and water ratios to capture the plant's bioactive constituents while preserving the full chemical spectrum the plant has to offer.
When delivering a medicinal benefit requires capturing the fat-soluble constituents of an herb, they use herbs extracted by a supercritical extraction technique. This process uses compressed carbon dioxide (CO2)-one of the basic elements of our atmosphere, and the "oxygen" that plants breathe and absorb-to gently extract the bioactive constituents, with no stress or damage to the herb, and no chemical-solvent residue.
In some cases, they must use more than one extraction method to ensure that they have preserved and collected the most complete representation of the plant's vital constituents. Regardless of the method selected, they never add hexane, acetone, methylene chloride, or other harsh chemical solvents. Food-grade grain alcohol, purified water, and carbon dioxide are their only diluents for internally consumed products-and Certified Organic extra-virgin olive oil is their solvent of choice for herbal salves and oil products.
Once the bioactive constituents of the herbs have been extracted, the extracts are then highly concentrated with Gaia's meticulous low + low method-low temperature in combination with low atmospheric pressure-to protect the fragile, subtle vital forces of each plant.
Preserving the full chemical makeup of what they worked so hard to capture requires a slow, careful concentration technique involving low temperature and low atmospheric pressure.
Their low + low method of concentration uses a low atmospheric pressure of 24 millibars (versus the Earth's standard sea level pressure of 1,013.25 millibars) that allows the water and alcohol to evaporate slowly (much more slowly than other conventional concentration methods), while a low temperature of 60°C (140°F, nearly 75° below water's boiling point of 212°F/100°C) prevents any volatile, subtle, natural compounds from being damaged. As it evaporates, the organic grain alcohol is recaptured and purified, creating a closed-loop system in which no alcohol evaporates into the environment.
The result of an unwavering commitment to purity and integrity.
Plant Intelligence is nature's way of delivering vitality to people. This is true potency. But potency can only be assured when Gaia maintains the herb's entire chain of custody in order to guarantee that the highest levels of purity and integrity have been preserved.
Improper handling at any step can damage Plant Intelligence and compromise potency. Some companies grow or source their herbs in all the right places, only to use harsh chemical solvents for extraction or extremely high temperatures for concentration. Conversely, they may use the best extraction and concentration methods-but are limited by raw materials that are contaminated or compromised from poor cultivation, harvesting, or sourcing.
Potency is a result of Gaia's strict adherence to responsible practices with every herb they source, combined with the use of the right + right method of extraction and low + low method of concentration, plus careful maintenance of the purity and integrity of each individual plant.