Plant extract is one or more active ingredients derived from natural plants through a physical or chemical process. In recent years, with people’s pursuit of natural, green and harmless, these natural ingredients derived from plants have been continuously applied in various industries such as pharmaceutical, health care products, cosmetics, food and beverage, veterinary drugs, aquaculture and other industries. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the various industries in that plant extracts can be used. Each of these sectors has unique benefits and applications for plant extracts. We’ve also included some interesting facts on how plant extracts are used in these industries. Read on to learn more.

Food and beverage

While there are many challenges facing the food and beverage industry, it continues to thrive in an era of constant change. As consumer behavior continues to evolve and become more health conscious, so too does the industry. One of the fastest growing challenges for the food and beverage industry is the growing obesity rate among children. Fast food has contributed to this problem by increasing the intake of sugary foods. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), seventy million children will be overweight by 2025. These children are more likely to become overweight and obese as adults, as well as suffer from other health problems. The increasing demand for natural preservatives is driving the global plant extracts market. For this reason, the food and beverage industry has an opportunity to innovate in the market and lead the way to a sustainable food and beverage industry.

Natural food additives are rapidly gaining popularity in the food and beverage industry, particularly in countries like Europe. Consumers are increasingly looking for ingredients that are more natural, so food manufacturers are turning to plants and essential oils to improve the nutritional value of their products. In Europe, for example, plant extracts are used in breakfast cereals and processed meats, where they can replace toxic chemical agents and help prevent spoilage. However, some regulatory hurdles are holding back the market growth. Some energy drink products add turmeric extract, black pepper fruit extract and sour cherry juice, and use coconut water and Mangosteen extract as sweeteners instead of sucrose.

Pharmaceutical industry

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the leading users of plant extracts and is driving the global market for these ingredients. The pharmaceutical industry is becoming more dependent on plant extracts to create new medicines and enhance existing ones. These ingredients have minimal adverse effects on the human body.  For many years, regulators have been wary of using plant extracts or combination products for new medicines, many companies have shied away from using plant-derived medicines, but recently, studies have shown that these ingredients can be highly effective.

Many plant products, including their phytochemicals, have antimicrobial activity and antifungal activities. Many plant species have antimicrobial characteristics due to their secondary metabolism. These compounds are known as active substances. The purpose of most studies is to identify new antibiotics. Phytochemicals have many medicinal uses. They have been used for centuries to treat illnesses and promote the growth of other organisms.

Medicinal plants have anti-malarial properties, and several are used to treat malaria in developing countries such as Artemisia Annua, Mitragyna inermis, Feretia apodanthera, and Nauclea latifolia.  Anticancer taxol, for instance, is a good example of a plant-based anticancer drug. A chemical named galanthamine was recently approved for Alzheimer’s disease in Sweden.

Cosmetics industry

Plant extracts used in cosmetics products contribute their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. There are two kinds of plant extracts commonly used in the cosmetics industry: concentrated and natural. Concentrated extracts contain more ingredients than natural concentrations. Natural concentrations are more stable and contain less plant matter. For example, hydrosols are water-based floral essences and contain mineral ions. In addition to promoting green cosmetics, the cosmetic industry also supports research and development by employing scientists in different stages of development.

Natural ingredients mainly include α-hydroxy acid, β-hydroxy acid, plant flavonoids, papaya sulfhydrase and so on, can make the skin white, prevent allergies, sunscreen, moisturizing, anti-aging. Moreover, flower extracts were found to possess the highest coloring ability, making them suitable as make-up products. They were also safe for use because they showed no change in color when stored. Apart from being a good natural dye, flower extracts also have hydrating properties.

The main extracts used in the cosmetics industry are rose extract, tea extract, Centella extract, bear fruit extract and grape seed extract and so on. Grape seed extract mainly includes proanthocyanidins, grape seed oil, resveratrol, vitamins, tannins and so on. These ingredients all have skin-helping benefits. Grape seed proanthocyanidin extract has a bioavailability of 85% in the human body, which can inhibit the formation of peroxides caused by UV irradiation. It can also inhibit the Maillard reaction to prevent the formation of lipofuscin and senile plaques; It can also inhibit the activity of tyrosinase and reduce the phthalinone structure of melanin into the phenolic structure so that the pigment fades. Moreover, grapeseed oil is rich in VE (up to 360μg/g), which can accelerate the removal of damaged cells and senescent cells and retain water, delaying skin aging in some ways.

Pet feeding

Pet food additives refer to food additives that are added in the complete formula of pet food at about 1% ~ 5%, which do not provide basic protein and energy needs but work in promoting the health of pets and maintaining normal basic metabolism and function. They are used to maintain pet fur and oral health, enhance immunity, improve food flavor, deodorize and fight oxidation.

Now more and more pet feeding manufacturers added the yucca schidigera extract in their products, which is usually consumed in particle, or powder form. Herbalists believe that the leaves of this plant contain compounds that inhibit the production of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.  It has been found that the yucca saponins can reduce cellular surface tension and enhance immune system odor, while the active compound in yucca, can help the dog absorb nutrients and reduce the amount of ammonia.

Ye Tao