Herb Safety

It is an unfortunate reality that imports from China can be adulterated or contaminated. China’s burgeoning economy and other cultural and structural defects can cause problems for importers and consumers.

picture of bai shao or white peony

However, when it comes to Chinese herbal medicines, there is clearly a difference between those products that are made for over-the-counter use and those used in a legitimate medical context. The over-the-counter products (sometimes called “patent formulas” or “premade formulas”) are the ones that come in the colorful packages and are available on every street corner herb pharmacy in China as well as exported into Western countries.

The Chinese herbs that are used by Eagle Herbs are not sold directly to the consumer, but are only sold to practitioners, hospitals, and clinics. This is a much higher grade of raw material with testing at every stage of the manufacturing process.

EagleHerbs extracts are mostly 5:1 concentrations meaning that for every pound of water-soluble powder we offer, it took 5 pounds of raw herbs to make it. These powders come from a variety of pharmaceutical companies in China and Taiwan where they are tested and retested for adulterants, contamination, and proper identification.

Some extracts are simply ground up herb material. This is because extracts are made using age-old decoction methods. However some herbs have historically not been steeped as a tea, but simply ground up into a fine powder and taken in this format. Seems like a smart idea not to mess with something that works, so some of the powders used at Eagle Herbs simply retain that thinking/processing. Of the 300 some-odd herbs we use, there are perhaps 3 or 4 that are ground herbs. The rest are extracts.

EagleHerbs extracts powders are mixed into formulas and (optionally) inserted into capsules in our Santa Monica, California offices. We can offer so many different variations and modifications of formulas because we mix them to order, one at a time. Your herbs are not aging in some gray warehouse.

The powdered herbal extracts come from a few suppliers:

  • 95% of our extract powder is originally produced by the Tianjiang Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd. In the Jiangyin Economic Development Zone, Jiangsu Province, China. They supply over 1000 hospitals in China with their extract powders. They are the key source for extract powders in China with about 75% of the market.
  • Legendary Herbs At present, we buy our herbs from our friends, Charley and Eric Brand at Legendary Herbs.
  • Evergreen Herbs in City of Industry, California imports its herbal extracts from a supplier in Taiwan.
  • E-Fong Herbs produced at the Guangdong Yifang Pharmaceutical Corporation.

All of these products come from companies that adhere to or are credentialed by Australian or Taiwanese Good Manufacturing Practices. Dr. Stone was also on a AAAOM committee charged with arriving at guidelines for manufacturing practices for private herb practitioners who make their compounded herb formulas to order. [more]

EagleHerbs uses no endangered or threatened species in our herbal products.

A word about excipients or “fillers” added to the extract powders: to prevent the extract powders from caking up quickly, excipients are added. These additions also help to make the concentration ratio more even across the board (with the target of 5:1 concentrations).

95% of the herbs used at Eagle Herbs have excipients added to ensure the 5:1 ratio and prevent caking. This excipient is dextrose which also doubles as a sweetener for the formulas making them more palatable.

Dextrose is commonly derived from corn, and so some have been asking about whether or not the stock corn used is GMO corn. The answer is no. There is no GMO corn used to produce the dextrose excipient at Tianjiang Pharmaceuticals. GMO approval has been slow to appear in China. The Wall Street Journal offers some insight here.

The Taiwanese herbs that we use use a starch to prevent caking of the extract powders.