Herbal Oil Extracts

Herbal Oil Extracts Traditionally Used in Herbal Medicines and Skin Treatments

Herbal Oil Extracts Traditionally Used in Herbal Medicines and Skin Treatments

Traditional herbal oils

Herbal oils, also called herbal oil extracts, are traditional herbal remedies used to treat skin conditions, nourish and revitalize the skin. Beneficial effects are achieved through the combination of nutrients, antioxidants and biostimulants obtained from herbs using gentle nondestructive oil extraction techniques.

What is the difference between herbal oils obtained by expression, solvent extraction, steam distillation or other methods? The overall content of oils in some herbs is not high enough to justify use of a press. On the other hand, steam distillation works only for volatile ingredients and may inactivate some temperature sensitive bioactive nutrients, essential for the therapeutic action. Extraction with organic solvent is frequently used for the manufacturing of food additives and flavors from the herbs. Apparently, no one will argue that direct oil extraction is preferable to organic solvents for the skin care products. Supercritical CO2 extraction is sometimes mentioned as a viable alternative to oil extraction. At the same time, it has been shown that chemical composition of supercritical CO2 extracts is not identical to that of oil extracts of the same origin. Thus, CO2 extracts may be depleted in certain nutrients, found in the oil extracts, and responsible for the health beneficial action. To illustrate the difference from CO2 extracts, one may compare herbal oil extract to coffee, brewed from the freshly grounded beans, and CO2 extracted oil to an instant coffee. In fact, extracts made with organic solvents or CO2 lose some volatile and semivolatile ingredients, just like in case of an instant coffee. Volatile ingredients may be essential for expected biological effect. In fact the whole concept of aromatherapy is based on the action of volatile substances.

Last, but not least, herbal oils utilized in traditional herbal medicine are all obtained with vegetable oil extraction, the only available method at those times. Similarly, the limited amount of research and clinical trials available today were conducted using herbal oil obtained by extraction of herbs into the vegetable oils. Therefore, all knowledge of healing effects of herbal oil, acquired over the centuries of trial and error, are applicable only to oil extracts, until proven otherwise. Finally, clinical trials and scientific research demonstrating biological activity, therapeutic efficiency and safety of herbal oil extracts, conducted during last century, were not reproduced with CO2 extracts. Thus, at best it remains to be seen, how good are CO2 extracts as a substitute for traditional oil extracts.

Herbal oils from Floraleads GR

Herbal oil extracts are produced by repetitive extraction of raw herbs into vegetable oils in conditions optimized for preservation of herbal antioxidants, stimulants and nutrients. The process is similar to the one used for alcohol extracts, only vegetable oil is used instead of alcohol. To show the difference from infused oil, one may compare oil extract with sour cream and regular infused oil with milk. In fact, oil extracts produced by Floraleads GR are more concentrated than regular infused oils. Usually at least 3 weight part of dry herbs are used to produce 1 weight part of the extract. That is why we do not recommend keeping oil extracts in the refrigerator – certain ingredients may precipitate or crystallize (for the same reason they do not store berry jam or honey in the refrigerator).

Use of herbal oils in traditional skin care remedies

Why were herbal oils invented and why do they remain popular in medicinal, anti-aging and cosmetic skin care for thousands years? Among the most important reason is the fact that skin is able to directly assimilate or absorb certain nutrients. Not all but the ones called lipophilic or fat soluble, that is oils and related compounds. Obviously, the rate of skin absorption is significantly lower than intestinal absorption, but assimilation through skin delivers nutrients and other bioactive ingredients directly to the site of action. Herbs, root and seeds provide numerous fat soluble vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients essential for skin metabolism, resistance to environmental factors and self restorative functions. Herbal oils technologies provide the means to directly extract these health beneficial constituents from the natural source and obtain in the formulation suitable for direct administration to the skin. Furthermore, traditional technologies, when compared to some of more recent origin, yield the product with superior rate of preservation of nutrients as well as in the stability of the final products.