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Our Members Tests Ginkgo and Saw Palmetto Products.
66, an independent testing company, has released the results of its tests on two commercial herbal product categories: ginkgo extract (Ginkgo biloba) and saw palmetto extract (Serenoa repens). The results for the ginkgo products were posted on its website (www. in mid-November, 1999; the saw palmetto results were released in late January 2000.

Of the 32 ginkgo products tested, 25 have passed's criteria, based on levels of ginkgo terpene lactones (ginkgolides and bilobalide) and flavonol glycosides, as determined by German testing standards.

The saw palmetto tests were designed to detect fatty acids and plant sterols that are indicative of saw palmetto extracts and berries. According to ConsumerLab, at least 85% of the weight of the specific saw palmetto extract products used in clinical studies have been composed of the fatty acids and sterols targeted in the CL tests. CL purchased 27 leading brands of saw palmetto supplements in retail stores, on-line retailers and direct sales or multi-level marketing companies. Five products were eliminated from testing because their labels indicated that they had been standardized to fatty acid levels below 85%. A sixth product was eliminated because its label did not reveal adequate information to determine the amount of SP per dose. Of the 21 remaining products that CL has analyzed in two labs by blind samples, 17 passed the test for the 85% minimum level of the fatty acids. As indicated on the website, "To constitute a pass in the testing, a saw palmetto extract product had to meet or exceed its label claims and meet or exceed the minimum percent weight for total and individual fatty acid and sterol components. For products containing berry powder only and no extract, the total and individual constituents were calculated as 10% (weight to weight) for fatty acids and plant sterols." (Only one of these products passed ConsumerLab's criteria.)

The company chose the ginkgo and saw palmetto products having the largest sales, widest availability, or both, in the U.S. Companies whose products were not selected for testing are still able to be tested via ConsumerLab's Ad Hoc Testing Program, by paying a nominal fee for the testing.

According to CL's policies, companies that pass the CL test can qualify for the flask-shaped seal of approval. Test results of other herb and dietary supplement categories will be posted to the company's website at a rate of about one per month. On February 7, the Los Angeles Times ran an article about the company, and published both the passes and fails of the saw palmetto tests.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.


By Mark Blumenthal