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A basic introduction to plant extracts

Views: 106     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-05-19      Origin: Site


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Plant extracts are substances that are extracted or processed from plants (all or part of a plant) using appropriate solvents or methods and are used in the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, the daily chemical industry and other industries.

There is a conceptual crossover between plant extracts and herbal extracts. The raw materials for plant extracts in China are mainly derived from Chinese herbal medicine, therefore domestic plant extracts can also be referred to as Chinese medicine extracts to some extent and are generally included in the category of Chinese medicine products in our export trade statistics.

Plant extracts are products formed by using plants as raw materials and going through a physico-chemical extraction and separation process to obtain and concentrate one or more of the active ingredients in the plant in a targeted manner, without changing the structure of the active ingredients, as required for the use of the extracted end product.

Plant extracts in China originated from the Chinese herbal medicine industry and were relatively late in their overall development; in the 1970s, some herbal medicine factories began to use mechanical equipment to extract the active ingredients, but only as part of their production, and plant extracts were not yet produced on a large scale. It was not until the 1990's that the international trend of going back to nature began to take hold and people began to gravitate towards natural plant-based products, and during this time, China's foreign trade took off and the plant extracts industry in China began to improve.

In the 21st century, with the application of more advanced extraction methods such as enzymatic extraction, ultrasound, supercritical extracts, membrane separation technology, microwave extraction technology, etc., the yield of extracts was greatly enhanced and China's plant extracts industry entered a golden period of development. During the period from 2010 to 2015, the production capacity and export volume of plant extracts grew steadily and rapidly every year, and the share of plant extracts in the export of Chinese medicine increased a lot. Since 2016, there have been some changes in the market situation for plant extracts.

plant extract


1. based on the content of active ingredients, they can be classified into three categories: active monomeric extracts, standard extracts and ratio extracts

2. on the basis of composition into glycosides, acids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, terpenoids, flavonoids, alkaloids, etc.

3. according to product form, they can be divided into plant oils, infusions, powders, crystals, etc.

4. according to the usage, plant extracts can be further divided into natural pigment products category, herbal extract products, extract products category and concentrated products category.


In addition to the traditional use of plant extracts in traditional Chinese medicine, a large proportion of plant extracts have been used in health products and food ingredients as people's trust and reliance on natural products has increased. In addition, plant extracts have been used in cosmetics and feedstuffs in recent years.

For example, rhodiola, ginkgo and ginseng extracts are used in the field of brain health, education and prevention of Alzheimer's disease; green tea, hedgehog, apple and bitter melon peptide extracts are used in weight loss, blood sugar reduction and prevention of diabetes; paclitaxel, tea polyphenols, theanine and bioflavonoids such as lycopene and anthocyanins are used in the field of natural anti-cancer; licorice, garlic The extracts of Glycyrrhiza glabra, Astragalus membranaceus, and Soybean are used in the field of human immune system.

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