Plant extracts are complex multi-component mixtures and their quality and dose are exceedingly difficult to standardize and control. Moreover, the amount of a plant extract’s active component is based on a multitude of factors, including the plant’s genetics and other factors such as the climate it was grown in, the soil in which it was grown, and the harvesting and extraction methods used.
In the context of food supplements, specifically in the case of plant extracts and botanicals, patented ingredients offer certain advantages:
- They are trademarked and registered to a standard dose.
- A standardized dose ensures the efficacy they have been clinically proven to provide.
- Manufacturers ensure that every batch is produced using the same process.
- Researchers often prefer to use patented ingredients in their clinical studies because standardization allows for ease of replicability.
It is common for companies to engage in “borrowed science,” which means they use non-patented ingredients while referring to studies that have been conducted only on patented ones. While this may be perfectly legal, premium finished products use both the research and the ingredients. To be patented, a given extract must provide a new and distinct benefit. The process of patenting a plant extract is demanding, costly, and time-consuming, which partly explains why the use of non-patented substances is the norm.
An ideal example of the advantages of using patented plant extracts is affron®; the most published saffron extract globally. Affron® is a premium saffron (Crocus sativus L.) ingredient standardized to 3.5% Lepticrosalides®, which are the complex of bioactive compounds responsible for the beneficial properties of affron®. It is precisely because of the patented production process that we can know that the same amount and high quality of Lepticrosalides® are provided per dose. Increasingly people are becoming aware of the scientifically proven health benefits of ingesting saffron. However, most often, the science supporting these health benefits was established using patented affron® and can not be “borrowed” to support the benefits of other saffron extracts whose quality and dose significantly differ.
Pharmactive Biotech Products, S.L. has invested considerable resources and devoted much time to carrying out 8 human clinical studies for affron®! These randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies were conducted with the strictest scientific rigour, published in renowned peer-reviewed journals and provide robust dose response evidence for affron®. It is these published clinical studies that show affron® is effective for alleviating occasional stress, maintaining a healthy mood and avoiding occasional sleeplessness. Moreover, affron® supports normal cognitive health and overall mental wellness and contributes to relieving symptoms of the menopause. The clinical studies conducted by Pharmactive Biotech Products, S.L. are indicative of the company’s commitment to clinical research and further support its reputation for expertise and leadership in bioactive extraction. No borrowed science here!
Dr. Natalie Vladi, MRPharmS.
Scientific Advisor Pharmactive Biotech Products, S.L.
Managing Director Fountain House GmbH, home to the premium food supplements brand Foondiert®