You’ve read about St John’s Wort for depression, or Turmeric for inflammation. If you’ve looked a little deeper, you’ll find a lot of supplements that are standardised for a particular ingredient: hypericin in St John’s Wort, or curcumin in Turmeric, and so on.
In any herb, there will be a number of constituents that contribute to its action, but there is often one that stands out. A lot of the research will focus on this constituent alone, and you could be forgiven for thinking that the rest of the herb is just a waste of space.
But that’s a long way from the truth
There’s a reason why an isolated ingredient, like salicylic acid – aspirin – from Willow bark or Meadowsweet, may turn out to have unwanted side-effects that don’t show up when you take the whole herb. The other parts are not just filler; they buffer the action, supporting it in some ways and softening it in others.
And the whole herb is perceived by your system as food, which is something it understands and knows how to deal with. An isolate or a drug, on the other hand, is a challenge for your liver to metabolise. Rather than being supportive, it can be a burden
So although the herb may be less powerful and slower to act than the isolate or the standardised extract, it is also much less likely to cause problems, and it will feed your vitality rather than depleting it. It’s also cheaper for you. One incentive for the makers of supplements to produce standardised extracts is that they can charge more for them.