What Are Standardized Supplements?

by Melissa Chichester

No doubt about it, supplement labels can be confusing! And when words or phrases like “whole herb” and “standardized” pop-up, it leads to even more confusion. Don’t scratch your head for too long in wonderment – we’re here to help distinguish what “standardized” means and how it differs from whole herb supplements.

The definition of standardized

Standardization is a process that manufacturers may use to ensure batch-to-batch consistency of their products. In some cases, standardization of herbs involves identifying specific chemicals (known as markers) that can be used to manufacture a consistent product. The standardization process is one method to provide a measure of quality control.

Dietary supplements are required to conform to product specifications; however, they are not required to be chemically standardized in the United States. In fact, no legal or regulatory definition exists in the United States for standardization as it applies to dietary supplements. Because of this, the term “standardization” may mean many different things.

Ideally, the chemical markers chosen for standardization would also be the constituents that are responsible for the botanical’s effect in the body. In other words, a standardized supplement would contain a specific percentage of active constituents in the herb.

For example, our Gingko Biloba Standardized Extract is standardized to contain 24% ginkgo flavone glycosides – active constituents in the herb.

Another example is our Curcuminoids from Turmeric – standardized to contain 93% curcuminoids, active constituents in turmeric.

How whole herb products are different

“Whole herb” refers to dried and powdered herbal ingredients, when nothing has been removed or extracted from the herbal material. Whole herb products are often closer in form to the way the herb was traditionally consumed as food. With that in mind, the chemical makeup of an herb depends on many factors, including:

● Where it was grown

● When it was harvested

● Soil conditions

● The plant’s age at harvest

● How it is processed

Which should I choose: standardized or whole herb?

The answer to this question is that it depends on your personal supplement routine and needs. If you’re looking for a specific, concentrated compound from a plant, standardized might be the way to go. But if you simply want balance from what nature has to offer, whole herb products may be the way to go.