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Herbs have always been shrouded in mystery. The delicate plans produce overpowering bouquets and potent remedies. Herbal extraction technology gets to the core of this mystery and makes bioactive compounds available for a range of applications. Rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and aromas, herbal extracts are vital ingredients for medicines, foods, cosmetics, and wellness products.

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Use carbon dioxide for supercritical fluid extraction technology

Supercritical fluids (SF) possess the solubility of liquids and the diffusivity of gases, making them a fitting menstruum for herbal extraction technology. Supercritical fluid extraction leverages the low temperatures of SF to extract thermolabile compounds without causing deterioration.

Carbon dioxide reaches a supercritical state at 31°C and is an inert, non-toxic substance suitable for herbal extracts prepared for the food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries.

Elevate pressure on the solvent to maintain its liquid state during herbal extraction

High-temperature solvents promote the desorption of compounds from the herb’s matrix. But raising the heat may vaporize the extractants.

The pressurized liquid extraction technique (PLE) ramps up pressure to 200 bar to keep solvents in their liquid state. The method is also called accelerated solvent extraction because PLE technology obtains herbal extracts quicker than other extractant-based solutions.

Herbs rich in flavonoids can take the heat of microwave extraction technology

Not all herbs can withstand high temperatures generated by microwave systems. But those with high flavonoid content, such as ginkgo Biloba and chamomile, are well suited to this method.

Microwave-assisted extraction technology directs electromagnetic radiation at the herbaceous material, which converts it into thermal energy. The heat helps the flow of the solvent into the matrix. However, these intense temperatures degrade delicate compounds like anthocyanins and tannins. Ionic liquid, known as green solvent, is a matching extractant as it re-transmits microwaves.

Apply ultrasound waves to facilitate herbal contact with the solvent

Ultrasound-assisted extraction technology (UAE) subjects the herbal material to ultrasound pressure waves, pulling the molecules apart. This mechanism creates cavitation bubbles in the cell walls that collapse during compression and erode the plant tissues.

Erosion releases the bioactive compounds bringing them into closer contact with the menstruum. UAE increases yield without raising the temperatures or prolonging extraction times.

Vacuum-dry the extracts to convert them into powders

The extracted compounds are aqueous, but they must be turned into solid form before they are incorporated into formulas like creams or nutraceuticals. Drying reduces the moisture and leaves the bioactive particles behind.

However, drying is an intense process that can damage fragile compounds. Apply vacuum drying to remove the moisture content gently without subjecting the bioactive ingredients to stress.

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Match the menstruum with the properties of the herbal extracts

There are multiple solvents for herbal extracts, but each has different properties. Water is the most polar menstruum, so although it extracts a range of substances, it is inefficient with alkaloids, terpenoids, and fatty acids.

Non-polar solvents like chloroform and ether are good solutions, although the former has carcinogenic properties and the latter is flammable. Alcohol, also flammable, is another polar extractant. But, unlike water, it concentrates the extracts at low temperatures.

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