Since Covid and beyond, everything is going up, including  Herbal supplements. As a Practicing Naturopath and Herbalist, I am often reminded of the costs to my clients in providing Herbal Supplements.  If prices are too high, then there is poor compliance to take the prescribed Herbals in sufficient doses leading to less optimal outcomes. Here are some of my thoughts.

The best-absorbed and most cost-effective supplements are usually customised liquid Herbals or Chinese Herbal  Granules. Next, come the tablets and capsules that can be effective but cost more as they go through a further step of encapsulating or tableting.

Tablets and capsules are convenient, and we are used to them in Today’s society for convenience, but there is a cost to that convenience. 

 So here are some figures at a glance, based on a month’s supply of Herbal supplements.  

This is based on one product or formula or one customised herbal mix. These would be using  TGA-approved and pharmacy/hospital grade Herbals of High Quality.

Western Liquid Herbal mix      $120 for 30 days 

Chinese Herbal Granules        $120 for 30 days 

Chinese Herbal capsules        $176 for 26 days 

Chinese Herbal tablets.           $120 for 30 days 

Western herbal pills                 $90 for 30 days 

Chinese  Patent tea pills:        $600 for 30 days 

The Devil in the Detail –

Western liquid Herbal Extracts 

These extracts are dispensed by a practitioner-only,  and the formula is customised for treating the condition or conditions.

Herbal extracts are made from alcoholic distilling, which captures all the nutrients of the herb, thus providing good quality products. Popular evidence-based  Herbs are used worldwide according to their pharmacology and effectiveness.

Various-size bottles can be dispensed, but 500ml is usually retailed at $120. The dose is generally 15ml, so for a 500ml bottle, it is suitable for 33 day supply.

Pros – customised formula to suit your condition, powerful, easy to absorb, adaptable 

Cons  – Taste can be a problem and especially for long-term use

Cost-effective: Very cost-effective and the best bang for your buck.” 

Chinese  Formula granules 

Individual herbs are boiled in Vats then the reserved liquid is spray-dried into granules. Individual herbal granules are then blended Into formulas. Single herbs or Formulas can be customised for the client. Due to their uniqueness, Chinese recipes sometimes can treat conditions that “Western” herbs cannot. Granules are used in TCM hospitals all over Asia and Europe due to their high quality.

Come in 200gram bottles. The recommended dose is 10- 12 grams per day. Let’s say 10 grams which is a low dose, for example. 200 gram = 20 days supply =$ 70-$80 . For 30 days supply = $105 – $ 120 

Pros – easy to use and carry. Good absorption: can be customised for your condition. 

Cons- taste can be an issue with some formulas, but not as bitter as western liquids. 

Cost-effective: Cost-effective as western herbal formulas 

Chinese  Formula capsules 

Capsules contain concentrated granules enclosed in a gelatin capsule. These are set formulas. 

The prescribed dose is 12 capsules per day for a 78-count bottle = 6.5 Days supply for the retail of $44 per bottle. So for 26 days, this means four bottles = $176.

Pros – no taste, easy to use and transport,  very convenient 

Cons- cannot be customised,  is a set formula 

Cost-effective – not as cost-effective as granules or liquids 

Chinese  Formula  tableted (granules  compressed into  tablets)

 Usually in 150 gram bottles = Approx $60 per bottle for 15 days or $120 for 30 days 

Pros – easy to use, no taste, convenient 

Cons – cannot be customised, only a set formula 

Cost-effective -not as cost-effective as granules due to tableting costs 

Western Tablets 

These are dried concentrated extracts made from liquids compressed into tablets. 

A typical formula is 60 count tablet bottle retailing $ 45. The dose is four tablets a day = 15 days supply. For 30 day collection, the Cost = is $90 .

Pros – easy to use, convenient, good strength if enough dose is taken. Good for long-term use 

Cons – set formula, cannot be customised, not as strong as liquid extracts. 

Cost-effective – not as  cost-effective as liquids

Chinese Patent Tea Pills 

These are unique. Raw Herbs are combined into a formula and boiled in Vats. The residual liquid is concentrated, dried, and formed into pills coated with licorice or other herbs. This preparation has been used for centuries. Proponents claim that because the whole formula is boiled, there is a different synergy between herbs in the boiling process that is not available in the same way as in making granules.

Chinese tea pills come in 200 pill count bottles. According to some practitioners, the recommended dose is one bottle per day, i.e. 50 pills or one capful x 4 times daily. The retail price of a bottle is now $20. So one month’s supply is now -$600 /. Some people respond to half that dose, two caps per day – 100 pills per day; at that dose, it makes that $300 per 30 Day month! 

Pros – easy to use, portable in a purse, easy for children, easy to swallow, unique preparation

Cons – One cannot customise set formula and must take large amounts to be effective. 

Cost-effective – not  cost-effective as others 

MY TAKE:  Taste issue aside, If one wants quicker, more effective results, taking the western herbal extracts or Chinese herbal granules is more cost-effective and delivers more therapeutic actives. Once results are obtained, there is the option of going onto tablets for maintenance for ease of use. 

Peter Farnsworth.ND


Herbal Dispensary
Bottles of liquid Extracts

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