Ultrasonic Extraction of Medicinal Herbs

Herbs, spices and other plant materials are rich in phytochemicals, which are valued components for medicinal and nutritional products. Sonication breaks the cell structure and releases the bioactive compounds – resulting in higher yields and faster extraction rates. As a non-thermal process, sonication is a mild extraction technique preventing the thermal degradation of the extract. These facts turn ultrasonic probe-type extractors into the superior extraction technique for high-quality botanical extracts.

Ultrasonic Antioxidants Extraction

Antioxidants are radical-scavenging bioactive compounds, which are found in plants. Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, thiols etc. are pharmacologically active substances which are used to improve health and to treat diseases.
Due to its high process efficiency, ultrasonic extraction allows to use a very broad range of raw materials to isolate antioxidants. Besides plants such as herbs, fruits and vegetables, high-quality antioxidants can be ultrasonically extracted from low-value or waste materials such as hulls, stems, seeds, rinds, kernels, roots, etc.

In this video, ultrasonic extraction from hops (humulus lupulus) is demonstrated. With the ultrasonicator UP200Ht caryophyllene and other compounds are extracted.

Ultrasonic Extraction of Hops with UP200Ht with S2614 probe

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Ultrasonic Adaptogen Extraction

Adaptogens such as tannins, are polyphenolic, often astringent molecules, which are known for their capability to increase the stress tolerability of mammal cells. Those molecules are entrapped in the plant cell. In order to obtain highly bioavailable adaptogens, the molecules must be released from the plant material. Ultrasonic cell disruption opens the cells by breaking the cell walls and increasing the mass transfer between cell interior and surrounding solvent. Due to its highly effective working mechanism, sonication is a reliable and efficient method to isolate adaptogens of high quality and with high yields.

SonoStation - a complete ultrasonic tank setup consisting in probe-type ultrasonicators (here 2x UIP2000hdT), agitator and pump
The photography shows the ultrasonic batch setup SonoStation, which  comprises probe-type ultrasonicators, a sonication tank, agitator and pump. The SonoStation is a ready-to-go installation for mixing, dispersing and extraction.
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SonoStation – a simple turnkey solution for ultrasonic processes

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Why Use a Sonicator for Medicinal Herb Extraction?

Probe-type sonicators are the established technology for a simple, yet highly efficacious extraction of high-quality extracts from herbs. In the herbal extract industry, sonication is the preferred extraction method for the production of botanical extracts due to several advantageous features that make the ultrasonic technique highly effective and efficient. Let’s have a look at some of the key reasons:

  • Enhanced Extraction Efficiency: Probe-type sonication utilizes high-frequency sound waves delivered directly through a probe immersed in the extraction medium. These ultrasonic waves generate cavitation bubbles, which rapidly expand and collapse near the surface of the medicinal herbs. This phenomenon creates intense localized agitation and micro-streaming, significantly enhancing the mass transfer of bioactive compounds from the herb into the solvent. As a result, more bioactive components are efficiently extracted compared to traditional extraction methods, leading to higher yields of medicinal compounds.
  • Reduced Extraction Time: Sonication accelerates the extraction process by promoting rapid and efficient solute diffusion. The intense agitation caused by cavitation allows for a more thorough penetration of the solvent into the herb matrix, reducing the required extraction time. Compared to conventional methods like maceration or percolation, which can take several hours or even days, sonication can achieve similar extraction efficiencies in a much shorter period, often within minutes.
  • Preservation of Bioactive Compounds: Probe-type sonication operates at lower temperatures compared to conventional extraction techniques involving high heat or long exposure times. This advantage prevents the degradation of heat-sensitive bioactive compounds present in medicinal herbs, ensuring a more potent and therapeutically valuable extract.
  • Selectivity: Sonication can be adjusted to specific frequencies and power levels, allowing for selective extraction of target compounds from medicinal herbs. By optimizing sonication parameters, it is possible to preferentially extract certain bioactive components, leading to extracts with a higher concentration of desired medicinal properties.
  • Scalability and Ease of Use: Probe-type sonication systems are scalable and can be easily adapted for small laboratory-scale extractions as well as large-scale industrial applications. The technique is relatively straightforward to implement and does not require complex equipment, making it accessible and convenient for various settings.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Compared to some traditional extraction methods that involve the use of organic solvents and large volumes of water, sonication generally requires less solvent and reduces the overall extraction time. This leads to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable extraction process with reduced waste generation.
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    Overall, probe-type sonication has become the preferred extraction method for the production of medicinal herb extracts due to its ability to provide higher extraction yields, shorter extraction times, improved selectivity, and preservation of bioactive compounds, making it a valuable tool in the field of herbal medicine and natural product research.
     

    In this presentation we introduce you to the manufacturing of botanical extracts. We explain the challenges of producing high-quality botanical extracts and how a sonicator can help you to overcome these challenges. This presentation will show you how ultrasonic extraction works. You will learn, what benefits you can expect using a sonicator for extraction and how you can implement an ultrasonic extractor into your extract production.

    Ultrasonic Botanical Extraction - How to use sonicators to extract botanical compounds

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    Advantages:

    • High yield
    • High quality
    • Superior bioavailability
    • Mild process
    • Fast extraction
    • Safe process
    • Solvent-free or mild solvents
    • Easy operation

     

    Ultrasonic Extraction Systems for Herbal Extracts

    Hielscher Ultrasonics has many years of experience of ultrasonic extraction processes from botanicals for the food, pharma and cosmetic industries. From compact ultrasonic disruptors for lab and small scale production up to full commercial ultrasonic extractors for the production of large extract volumes, Hielscher Ultrasonics offers the full sonicator range and thereby the most suitable ultrasonicator for your application. All Hielscher ultrasonicators are very robust and built for 24/7 operation under full load. Hielscher Ultrasonics industrial sonicators can deliver very high amplitudes. Amplitudes of up to 200µm can be easily continuously run in 24/7 operation. For even higher amplitudes, customized ultrasonic sonotrodes are available.
    Intelligent software such as digital control, automatic data protocolling, browser remote control and automatic frequency tuning ensure reliable sonication and continuous output. A broad range of accessories including sonotrodes (ultrasonic probes / horns / tips) of different sizes and shapes, flow cells in various sizes and geometries, booster horns, and temperature as well as pressure sensors allow for an optimal sonication setup.
    Please contact us now with you extraction process requirements! Our team will be glad to consult you and to recommend you the most efficient ultrasonic extractor.

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    Please use the form below, if you wish to request additional information about ultrasonic homogenization. We will be glad to offer you an ultrasonic system meeting your requirements.









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    Ultrasonic extraction is used to isolate bioactive compounds such as antioxidants, adaptogens and anthocyanins from botanicals.

    UIP1000hdT – 1kW ultrasonic extraction machine



    Literature / References

    Facts Worth Knowing

    Antioxidants

    Henna powder from dried macerated henna leaves are the raw material for the ultrasonic extraction of lawson and other bioactive compounds.An antioxidant is defined as a molecule that inhibits the oxidation reaction preventing the degradating process of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that produces free radicals, leading to chain reactions that may result in cell damage. Antioxidants such as thiols or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) terminate these oxidative chain reactions.
    Antioxidants are widely used as preservatives in food products to act as phytochemical against its deterioration. For instance, antioxidants are added to food and oils rich in unsaturated fats, since unsaturated fatty acids are prone to oxidative degradation, which causes the oil to turn rancid.

    Adaptogens

    Adaptogens or adaptogenic compounds are molecules promote homeostasis, which means they decrease cells‘ sensitivity to stress. Adaptogens are found in herbs and vegetables, e.g. ginseng, schisandra, cordyceps, ashwagandha, rhaponticum, jiaogulan, licorice, rhodiola, holy basil, astragalus, reishi, and maca.
    Administered as pharmacologically active substance (as drug or supplement), adaptogens are known for their performance enhancing, anti-depressant, calming or wakening effects. The effect is related to the specific adaptogenic substance administered. For performance enhancement, plants such as ashwangadha, moringa, are successfully used, whilst cordyceps mushroom, jiaogulan and rhaponicum are known as anti-aging adaptogens. To reduce stress and anxiety, adaptogens from ginseng, holy basil, reishi, or schisandra are used.
    Adaptogens for supplementation and medical use are mostly prepared as tonics or capsules.

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