Producing a Quality Dietary Supplement:
Don and Arnie visit the Nature’s Answer manufacturing facility
What’s really involved in producing herbal extracts from bulk herbs?
At Willner Chemists, we take dietary supplements seriously. Both Arnie and I are Pharmacists. We spent most of our careers inside manufacturing plants, involved with quality control, manufacturing and product development.
We like to think that one of the reasons Willner Chemists has done so well over the years is that people have come to realize that it is a place to come to for factual, no-nonsence information about supplements--information that you will not find in most other stores.
It is not at all uncommon to hear representative from the various nutritional supplement companies saying to us “gee, no one else has ever asked us these questions before.”
We have refused to carry many lines of supplements, because we do not trust the quality.
As part of our basis for deciding what to recommend, we visit and inspect the manufacturer’s facility whenever possible. We know what to look for, and what questions to ask.
Most recently, Arnie and I went to visit Nature’s Answer, a manufacturer of liquid and capsule herbal and vitamin supplements.
I had visited their plant many years ago, but they have expanded the facility quite a bit over the years, and were anxious for us to re-inspect it. Also, Arnie had not been their yet.
We were both impressed. Nature’s Answer, along with most of the other reputable supplement manufactures, has recognized that it is now necessary to merge the best of modern science with traditional methods. This is especially true when it comes to quality assurance.
Herbal supplements, as well as vitamin products, are more sophisticated today than in years past. We now look for standardization, and tight limits on reproducibility and potency. We have extremely low tolerance for contamination of any type.
There is only one way to ensure that the product is what it claims to be, and that is by testing. Today’s modern supplement manufactuer, and Nature’s Answer is a good example, utilizes an elaborate array of complex analytical instrumentation to test both the raw material and the finished product, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Microbial testing is done, to be sure that the product is free from harmful bacteria. Extremely sensitive equipement is necessary to ensure the absence of pesticide residues and other contaminants.
It is also important to have a staff of scientists, both in quality control and product developement. One of the most enjoyable parts of our visit to Nature’s Answer was our discussions with Dr. Youssef Mirhon, their Vice President of Research and Developement, whose in-depth knowledge of pharmacognosy was fascinating.
We asked Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D., R.N., who is an herbalist/consultant for Nature’s Answer to write up a summary of some of the manufacturing, quality control, and product characteristics that are involved in formulating an effective and quality supplement, as well as some historical perspective on what led to certain of their unique approaches to herbal supplement formulation.
Nature’s Answer has been a Pioneer in the herbal industry since 1972, consistently providing Quality Without Question. Their mission is to create the finest quality supplements, in an extensive line which includes Alcohol-Free and low Organic Alcohol liquid extracts as well as capsules, including Herbal and Vitamin/Mineral formulas. All of Nature’s Answer’s products combine the best traditional knowledge in natural supplements with the most innovative scientific techniques, while continuing to offer the best value.
In the 1970’s Mr. Frank D’Amelio, founder of Nature’s Answer? noticed that high amounts of alcohol were usually recommended by the United States Pharmacopeia, the text that was used as a formul