A Note on Excipients
Excipients are necessary components of all dried extract powders. A small amount of excipient is required during the spray drying stage to prevent the powder from forming clumps. During encapsulation, modern capsule filling machines require a certain amount of excipient to assure smooth flow of the machinery. Testing is done prior to drying and encapsulation to determine exactly how much excipient is required. Dragon Herbs never uses more excipient than is required.
Many (most) companies use excipients for another purpose—to stretch the product. As a standard, most large companies that produce herbal extract powders use 50% excipient. That is excessive. In general only 3% to 10% of the powder should be excipient. However, if a company says their spray dried powder is 100% herbs and does not mention any excipient, then they are not being forthright.
The real issue is “what is the excipient.” There are many excipients used in the dietary supplement industry. Conventionally, silicon dioxide and magnesium stearate are standards. The FDA and most experts believe they are safe for human consumption and effective at protecting the purity of the product during its entire shelf life. They also know that the co-packers love these excipients because they protect the machinery, preventing them from becoming sticky and dirty. Some Dragon Herbs products contain these ingredients as they are required by GMP regulations in some cases.
The standard excipients in the dietary and herbal supplement industry include magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide. They are assumed to have no negative effects on the body. These have been used for many years and are approved by the FDA. You will see these two ingredients in most pills, powders and capsules. Dragon Herbs is now replacing them with natural materials that may actually be beneficial to your health besides being the best excipients.
We have gone to great expense and put hundreds of hours of time into learning the art of conscious excipient utilization. We know excipients are necessary, so we want to use excipients that are safe, not harmful to the environment and reasonable economically so we don’t have to alter our pricing. That’s easier said than done. We have literally had dozens of excipients tested and unfortunately most failed to protect the product from clumping, drying out or destroying our encapsulation machines. Fortunately, because it is not something we can dismiss, we have persisted and have developed fantastic, novel excipients for our products.
Bamboo Powder and Other Excipients
Dragon Herbs now uses bamboo powder as the required excipient in most of our encapsulated formulas. We are very satisfied with bamboo as an excipient.
Bamboo is one of the most primitive grasses and fastest growing plants on Earth. It is famous for being the major dietary component of the giant panda from China. Its shoots, stems, and leaves have been used in many cuisine delicacies throughout Asian countries for thousands of years.
Bamboo is a rich source of organic silica extract. Organic silica refers to the form of silica that is absorbed by plants from the soil naturally; as contrasted to inorganic silica, such as sand. Bamboos have long-lived, evergreen leaves that continue to accumulate silica throughout their life. Water-soluble silica has been suggested to exhibit potential therapeutic effects in the structural integrity of nails, hair, skin, bones, and joints, which is also beneficial for essential mineral absorption and cardiovascular health in human bodies.
In capsule manufacturing, silica is used as an anticaking agent due to its capacity to absorb moisture. The addition of an anti-caking agent is necessary to make sure the powders being encapsulated are evenly distributed. Most manufacturers in the industry add synthetic silicon dioxide, the most conventional form of silica additive, to their dietary supplements.
Dragon Herbs has also used silicon dioxide in our manufacturing as an industrial standard. However, as we are always looking out for more natural solutions for our customers, we are progressively switching from silicon dioxide to bamboo powder, a more natural silica source. It is a win-win ingredient for both our production feasibility, and more importantly, a more natural ingredient for our customers’ consumption.
Bamboo’s long life and upright structure not only makes it one of the most valuable plants, but also a cultural symbol in its growing regions. It is one of the “four gentlemen,” together with plum blossom, orchid, and chrysanthemum, which also represent the four seasons. It is also a symbol of uprightness and resilience in traditional Chinese culture.
Our Gum Arabic is a natural hardened sap collected from acacia trees, processed and packaged in France. The product is used mostly as a food bulking agent and stabilizer for our eeTee powders. We are switching to Gum Arabic from Maltodextrin to assure our customers that it is non-GMO, although our current maltodextrin is also from certified non-GMO maize. Gum Arabic contains a number of neutral sugars, acids, calcium, and other electrolytes. Its main component is Arabin, the calcium salt of the polysaccharide Arabic acid. It is nontoxic when ingested; and the FDA considers it to be generally safe for human consumption.
We also may use non-GMO organic maize maltodextrin (produced in France) in a few of our products. This maize is believed to be free of the protein that may cause an allergic reaction. We have tested the maize, and certified laboratory tests conducted right here in the USA have shown that the products containing our maize maltodextrin are certifiably gluten free—something a few of our customers were concerned about.
We use brown rice in some products. We like brown rice powder because it is a whole food eaten in much larger quantities by a great number of health conscious people including Ron Teeguarden and his family.
Lastly, we are now using tapioca in some of our products as a fantastic natural excipient. Our tapioca is never GMO, and we can use very high quality tapioca in small amounts to stabilize our extract powders. We plan to expand the use of tapioca in the near future.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask us by email, phone or online. We are confident we present the best excipient profile of any herb company.
Excipients used by Dragon herbs are made from natural materials like bamboo, brown rice and tapioca