Calculating Extract Equivalents
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Joe Dinoffer
Posted on: December 31, 1998

Regarding extracts, specifically for Ginseng and Ginkgo, I am interested in verifying the equivalents of the following ingredients.

Oriental Ginseng root (dried water-alcohol extract 1:25) 5mg, can a company claim that this is equivalent to 150 mg. Or, what would it be and how is this figured in food products like energy bars?

Gingko leaf (dried water-alcohol extract 1:60) 5mg, same question. They claim the equivalent is 500 mg.

From the information you provide it is impossible to verify the claimed equivalencies. Typically, herbs are extracted in a solvent – in these cases a water and alcohol mixture – and then concentrated in some way. In this case the extract was dried. This dried extract can be used in its dried form (in tablets, capsules, etc.) or it can be redissolved in a solvent. In the case of a reconstituted liquid extract, the original extraction volume divided by the final reconstituted volume gives an "X" number. Extracts may be "5X" or "10X", etc.

If the dried extract is used in its dried form, then the "X" number is calculated as the original bulk weight of the herbs divided by the weight of the dried material that was extracted from that original raw herb. So, a "100X" dried extract would result from an extraction where 1000g of herbs, after extraction and drying, yielded 10g of dried extract.

Whether we can say that a 10g dry extract is truly equivalent to 1000g of of the original herb is very much an open question. Much depends on whether you believe the extraction process succeeded in getting all of the active compounds, a premise highly unlikely to be completely true.

In the case of ginkgo leaf extract: if the extraction number is "100X" then, yes, 5mg of dried extract could be "equivalent" to 500mg of original material.

The ratios (1:25, 1:60) must refer to the herb-solvent ratios used to extract the original bulk herbs. One part (by weight) to 25 parts of solvent, etc.

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