Phytosomes are advanced forms of herbal products that are better absorbed and utilized by the body, and consequently produce better results than conventional herbal extracts. Phytosomes are produced via a patented process whereby the individual components of an herbal extract are bound to phosphatidylcholine—an emulsifying compound derived from soy. Phosphatidylcholine is also one of the chief components of the membranes in our cells.
The Phytosome process has been applied to many popular herbal extracts, including ginkgo biloba, grapeseed, hawthorn, milk thistle, green tea and ginseng. The flavonoid and terpenoid components of these herbal extracts lend themselves quite well for the direct binding to phosphatidylcholine. Specifically, the choline head of the phosphatidylcholine molecule binds to these compounds, while the fat-soluble phosphatidyl portion comprising the body and tail then envelopes the choline-bound material. The result is that a little microsphere or cell is produced. The term “phyto” means plant, while “some” means cell-like. What the Phytosome process produces is a little cell in which the valuable components of the herbal extract are protected from destruction by digestive secretions and gut bacteria.
Is There Scientific Documentation to Support the Claims of Superiority of Phytosomes?
There is a growing body of scientific studies showing improved absorption, utilization and results with the Phytosome process. SILYBIN PHYTOSOME is the most well studied. Silybin is the chief component of silymarin, the flavonoid complex from milk thistle valued for its ability to protect and restore the liver. Silybin is the most potent of these active substances.
Both human and animal studies show that SILYBIN PHYTOSOME is better absorbed compared to an equal amount of silybin in conventional milk thistle extracts. In one human study, the excretion of silybin in the bile was evaluated in patients undergoing gallbladder removal for gallstones. A special drainage tube, the T-tube, was used to get the samples of bile. Patients were given either a single oral dose of SILYBIN PHYTOSOME or milk thistle extract (80 percent silymarin). The amount of silybin recovered in the bile within 48 hours was 11 percent for the SILYBIN PHYTOSOME group and 3 percent for the silymarin group. One of the significant features of this study is that silybin has been shown to improve the solubility of bile. Since more silybin is being delivered to the liver and gallbladder with SILYBIN PHYTOSOME, this form is ideal for individuals with gallstones or fatty-infiltration of the liver—two conditions characterized by decreased bile solubility.
In another human study designed to assess the absorption of silybin when directly bound to phosphatidylcholine, blood plasma silybin levels in healthy volunteers were measured after administration of single oral doses of SILYBIN PHYTOSOME and a similar amount of silybin from milk thistle extract. The results indicate that the absorption of silybin from SILYBIN PHYTOSOME is approximately seven times greater compared to the absorption of silybin from regular milk thistle extract (70 to 80 percent silymarin content). Similar results have been noted in studies comparing Green Tea Phytosome with green tea extract, looking at the blood levels of the key compound epigallocatechin 3-O-gallate.
How Does Better Absorption Relate to Better Results?
The effectiveness of any herbal product or medication is dependent upon delivering an effective level of the active compounds. For milk thistle, this means delivering an effective level of silybin; for Panax ginseng it’s the compounds known as ginsenosides; for ginkgo biloba extract it’s the flavonoids and terpenes; and for green tea it is epigallocatechin 3-O-gallate. It only makes sense that if you can increase the absorption and utilization of these components, you will see better results. And that is exactly what has been shown in several studies with various Phytosomes.
For example, several clinical studies have also shown SILYBIN PHYTOSOME is more effective and produces better results compared to regular milk thistle extracts. In one study of 232 patients with chronic hepatitis (viral, alcohol or drug induced) treated with SILYBIN PHYTOSOME at a dosage of either 120 mg twice daily or 120 mg three times daily for up to 120 days, liver function returned to normal faster in the patients taking SILYBIN PHYTOSOME compared to a group of controls (49 treated with a commercially available silymarin; 117 untreated or given placebo).
Preliminary studies have also shown Ginkgo Phytosome and Grape Seed Phytosome produce better results compared to the conventional extract forms of these plants. For example, in studies with Ginkgo Phytosome in peripheral vascular disease (e.g., Raynaud’s disease and intermittent claudication) Ginkgo Phytosome was shown to produce a 30 to 60 percent greater improvement compared to regular ginkgo biloba extract (24 percent ginkgo flavone glycoside and 6 percent terpene lactones).
How Does the Dosage of Phytosomes Compare to Regular Standardized Extracts?
Based upon absorption only, the dosage level of a Phytosome is pretty close to the dosage recommendations typically given for the corresponding standardized herbal extracts. For example, let’s take a look at grapeseed extract and Grape Seed Phytosome. One 50 mg capsule of Grape Seed Phytosome, in terms of absorption only, is equivalent to about 50 mg of regular grapeseed extract. However, in terms of biological activity, based on preliminary studies it is estimated that one 50 mg capsule of Grape Seed Phytosome may be as effective as 150 mg of unbound grapeseed extract. Studies with SILYBIN PHYTOSOME and Ginkgo Phytosome also support that the Phytosome process enhances the utilization of the key components of the plant extract.
How Does a Phytosome Differ From a Liposome?
Liposomes are used primarily in cosmetics to deliver water-soluble substances to the skin. A liposome is formed by mixing a water-soluble substance with phosphatidylcholine. No chemical bond is formed; the phosphatidylcholine molecules collectively surround the water-soluble substance. There may be hundreds or even thousands of phosphatidylcholine molecules surrounding the water-soluble compound. In contrast, with the Phytosome process the phosphatidylcholine and the individual plant components actually from a 1:1 or a 2:1 complex depending on the substance. This difference results in Phytosomes being much better absorbed than liposomes. Not surprisingly, Phytosomes are also superior to liposomes in skin care products.
Which Phytosome Should I Take?
One of the most important groups of phytochemicals are the flavonoids. As a class of compounds, flavonoids have been referred to as “nature’s biological response modifiers” because of their anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, antiviral and anticancer properties. In addition, flavonoids act as powerful antioxidants, providing remarkable protection against oxidative and free radical damage. In fact, various flavonoids have shown antioxidant activity that is 50 to 200 times more potent than vitamin C or vitamin E. Furthermore, we can use certain flavonoid-rich extracts as “tissue-specific antioxidants” because of their ability to be concentrated in specific body tissues.
For example, I recommend flavonoid-rich ginkgo biloba extract to most people over the age of 50 because of its ability to act as an antioxidant in the brain and vascular lining throughout the body. My recommendation is for you to identify which flavonoid-rich extract is most appropriate for you and take it according to the recommended dosage for the Phytosome form. When additional support is needed, the dosage can be doubled or even tripled for maximum benefit.
Why Do You Consider Grape Seed Phytosome the Best Choice for Most People Under the Age of 50?
Grapeseed extract is a rich source of one of the most beneficial groups of plant flavonoids—the proanthocyanidins (also referred to as procyanidins, procyanidolic oligomers or PCO for short). Grapeseed extract has a wide range of beneficial effects, including an ability to increase intracellular vitamin C levels and inhibit the destruction of collagen—the main protein in the body. But the most celebrated effects of PCO in the United States are their potent antioxidant and free radical-scavenging effects.
The primary uses of PCO extracts are in the treatment of venous and capillary disorders including venous insufficiency, varicose veins, capillary fragility and disorders of the retina such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Good clinical studies have shown positive results in the treatment of these conditions. Based on the relatively recent demonstration of potent antioxidant activity and protective effects on blood vessels, the list of clinical uses of PCO extracts will surely increase. Perhaps the most significant use will eventually be in the prevention of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and its complications (heart attacks and strokes).
Grape Seed Phytosome offers the most beneficial source of PCOs. As a preventive measure and as antioxidant support, a daily dose of 50 mg to 100 mg of Grape Seed Phytosome is recommended. When additional support is required, the recommended dosage is 150 to 300 mg daily.
Why Do You Recommend Hawthorn Phytosome for Heart Disorders and High Blood Pressure?
High-quality hawthorn extracts made from the flowering tops of the plant just prior to the formation of the hawthorn are widely used by physicians in Europe for their cardiovascular activities. Studies have demonstrated hawthorn extracts are effective in reducing angina attacks as well as lowering blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels, and in improving heart function in congestive heart failure. Like other flavonoid-rich extracts, hawthorn extracts have shown exceptional antioxidant activity. In addition, the beneficial effects of hawthorn extracts in heart disorders are a result of the flavonoids improving the blood and oxygen supply to the heart by dilating the coronary vessels, as well as improving the metabolic processes in the heart.
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