There is a lot of confusion about the differences between what is (RAW) Pine Pollen, Pine Pollen Powder Extract, and Pine Pollen Tincture. And for good reason, many of these terms and concepts are new to a lot of people, and hardly anyone in the US is familiar with the Taiwanese method of making powdered extracts. Let me try and explain what these different versions of Pine Pollen are and what the benefits of each are.
RAW Pine Pollen Powder
When RAW Forest Foods started we were the first company in the US to offer RAW Pine Pollen. RAW Pine Pollen, Pine Pollen Powder, and Pine Pollen all refer to the same product–the pollen collected from the Pinus massoniana pine tree. This is the traditional, and the only scientifically studied species of the pine tree for uses as a food, an adaptogen, and an androgenic herb. When collecting the pollen, there is only a 3 day window when the pollen is at its peak in potency, and this is when RAW Forest Foods harvests the pollen. Only three days out of the year. The result is a Pine Pollen that is extremely high in nutrition, anti-aging compounds, has adaptogenic qualities, and contains important androgen (male sex) hormones, including testosterone. The collected Pine Pollen is processed using a low temperature air processing method which fractures the ridged (and impossible to digest) cell wall of the pollen, resulting in a highly digestible, RAW, potent superfood and important plant medicine.
The benefit of using RAW Pine Pollen over any other form is that the integrity of every compound in it remains intact, as nature designed and as nature intended. The full spectrum of amino acids–including powerful rare anti-aging amino acids–are raw and not denatured, as happens when heated. The important enzymes and co-enzymes found in Pine Pollen are still alive and beneficial. The plethora of living vitamins have not been reduced by heat. In short, the benefit of RAW Pine Pollen is that it is still a strong living food, and an alive plant medicine. RAW Pine Pollen contains over 200+ beneficial compounds.
Pine Pollen Tincture
Much of the motivation for starting RAW Forest Foods came with the strong effects of using Pine Pollen Tincture combined with RAW Pine Pollen. Pine Pollen Tincture contains a high, isolated dose of androgen hormones, including testosterone and DHEA. Men and women alike show dangerously low levels of testosterone when compared to samples taken of the population between 50-60 years ago. Fertility is down among men and women, and cancers linked to high levels of estrogen are on the rise. Many researchers and medical professionals link these fertility issues and growing cancer rates to low levels of testosterone and high levels of estrogen. Pine Pollen Tincture, being high in all the androgen hormones, including testosterone, helps to elevate and optimize levels of testosterone, which is highly beneficial in many areas of life–from obesity and diabetes, to bone health, to sexual health in both men and women.
A tincture is simply an alcohol–ethanol, drinking alcohol–extract of a plant (or other medicinal organism). In this process, the plant is combined with alcohol and allowed to sit while the full extraction takes place. Once the extraction is done, the mixture of alcohol and plant is pressed, leaving behind the alcohol, which is now an extract, and the spent and extracted plant materials. Making tinctures is an old process, traditionally used in Western Herbal Medicine. In fact, in the New England area of the US, 400 year old tinctures have been found which are still as biologically active as freshly made tinctures.
Tinctures are graded on their extraction ratio, which is the amount of plant material compared to the amount of alcohol. Most tinctures are a 1:4 or a 1:5 extraction ratio, meaning that 1 part of plant material is combined with either 4 or 5 parts of alcohol. RAW Forest Foods only sells professional 1:2 tincture extracts, which means that for every 2 parts of tincture, you get 1 part of the original plant. 1:4 or 1:5 extractions means that for every 4 or 5 parts of tincture, you get 1 part of the original plant.
The benefit of using Pine Pollen Tincture is that it is easy to take and the phyto-hormones are quickly and readily absorbed and utilized through the blood stream and by the body. Tinctures are also a highly stable form of plant extracts, and will store in glass indefinitely. Use of Pine Pollen Tincture has been shown through laboratory testing to elevate levels of free testosterone (the biologically active form of the hormone). This makes Pine Pollen Tincture an important herb for those suffering from low levels of testosterone and other androgen hormones.
However, with the benefits outlined, there is one caveat: tinctures inherently target some aspects of medicinal plants, while leaving many others behind. In the case of Pine Pollen, the difference is profound. While Pine Pollen Tincture does include high levels of testosterone, it leaves behind the nutrition of Pine Pollen which makes it such an important anti-aging food. It is impossible to tincture the living longevity amino acids, the high levels of living amino acids, the enzymes and co-enzymes, and the 200+ nutrients and medicinal compounds found in RAW Pine Pollen Powder. For this reason, I always recommend Pine Pollen Tincture be taken along side either the RAW Pine Pollen Powder, or the Pine Pollen Powdered Extract.
Pine Pollen Powdered Extract
Powdered extracts are a popular way to prepare and use herbs in China. Traditionally, powdered extracts came from Japan and spread to Taiwan, but because of their many benefits over using whole herbs, their use has spread throughout China, and is continuing to spread throughout the world, particularly in the West. Powdered extracts, like our Pine Pollen Powder Extract, are for many the most foreign and misunderstood method of preparing and taking herbs. This is simply because it is such a new method in the US and the West. Powdered extracts are by far my favorite way to use herbs, including Pine Pollen.
The process of manufacturing powdered extracts is straight forward, but requires highly advanced and specialized equipment. A high level of quality assurance is also needed, from analyzing each batch of herbs for contamination and heavy metals and also testing to ensure the correct plant species and variety is being used. After QA is done, the bulk herbs are combined with water, similar to making a water decoction of herbs at home. This water extract is then reduced in large vats over low heat until the desired concentration is obtained. For some powdered extracts, a standardized extract is performed, where a certain levels of an active compound of the plant is targeted. The liquid is then blown into what resembles a large dryer, where the liquid quickly drys, and is powdered. The three main benefits of using powdered extracts are the long shelf life of the extract, the way that the entire plant is uniquely extracted, retaining all original compounds (unlike tincture extracts), and the high extraction ratio.
The high extraction ratio makes powdered
extracts a very important form of plant medicine. The very best tinctures offer a 1:2 extraction ratio (like our Pine Pollen Tincture). This means that 1 part of plant goes into 2 parts of extract. However, powdered extracts offer a much more potent extract, where the ratio is actually flipped. In powdered extracts it is common to see a 5:1 extract or a 10:1 extract. This means that either 5 or 10 parts of the plant goes into producing just 1 part of extract. In a 10:1 extract, like our Pine Pollen Powder Extract, for every 1 part of extract, you actually receive 10 times that amount of original plant material. If you take 1 teaspoon of extract, it is the equivalent of taking 10 teaspoons of the original plant.
Aside from the high potency of powdered extracts, they also retain the full profile of the original plant, so all aspects of the medicinal qualities are available in the final product. Powdered extracts are dissolve immediately in warm water, making a pleasant herbal tea. Powdered extracts have a very long shelf life. As you can see, there are many benefits of using powdered extracts. It is my preferred method to take all herbs, and I highly recommend this method to others.
The benefits of our Pine Pollen Powder Extract are that the original compounds of the RAW Pine Pollen Powder are reserved, along with the androgen hormones, but the extraction ratio–the amount of those compounds–are extremely high: 20 times the amount found in the Tincture, and 10 times the amount found in the RAW powder