The highest possible quality
The quality of a plant extract is dependent on the right choice of original fresh plant (refer to Controlled and managed selection of the fresh plant) and on an effective extraction process. This process comprises a number of stages, each of which must be developed and performed correctly to extract all the original ingredients on which the plant’s action relies, without degrading any of them.
The quality of the extract obtained is thus determined by that of the extraction process.
Key stages in the PiLeJe extraction process
Freezing within 24 hours
The plant is frozen within 24 hours of being harvested. This is an imperative requirement, since freezing halts the degradation process and thus preserves the properties of the plant.
The frozen plant can then be transported to the PiLeJe extraction site in southwestern France. On reception, various quality checks are performed on every batch.
While still frozen, the plant is ground into small pieces. This increases the surface area across which the solvents used to perform the extraction can act and thus facilitates and potentiates this extraction of the various compounds.
The extraction stage
PiLeJe’s extraction process is a percolation performed using a series of hydroalcoholic solutions, with each new solution having a higher alcoholic strength than the previous one, designed to extract the various ingredients from the plant in turn as a function of their affinity to water or to alcohol.
In practice, the first solution is pure water followed by the various hydroalcoholic solutions. This technique is effective in that it caters for the fact that every compound has a different solubility in water or alcohol. This gradual process takes time, but recovers the maximum possible amount of compounds from the plant.
Evaporation of the alcohol in a vacuum
The mixture obtained, plant + water + alcohol, is recovered. The alcohol is evaporated off in a vacuum at low temperature. This method avoids having to heat the solution, which could destroy all or some of the plant’s compounds.
The alcohol-free, fresh-plant extracts obtained form the basis for PiLeJe’s phytotherapy formulations. Two products can then be added:
- plant glycerine, to convert the extracts into a form which can be prescribed by doctors
- acacia fibre, used if the product is to be manufactured in the form of a tablet and capsule.
Before and during the marketing of the products, various quality controls (microbiological analyses, content of actives, absence of contaminants, etc.) are carried out. These checks, performed in accordance with current Good Practice standards (standard ISO 22000) ensure that the product is traceable, safe and stable over time.