Herbal extracts are usually obtained from leaves of the plants. Some of the well-known herbal leaves are basil, oregano, bay leaf, thyme, tarragon, mint, marjoram, sage, curry leaf, parsley, rosemary, olive leaves, lime leaves, leaves from Aloaceae or Liliaceae family, gingko etc. leaves contain valuable bioactive compounds such as tocopherols, carotenoids, flavonoids, sterols, vitamins, tannins, lipids, and minerals which can be used in health, beauty and food industry.
Preparation of herbal leaf extracts requires careful harvesting of leaves, cleaning, grading, sorting and milling. In some cases, additional steps such as aging, steaming, sweating, roasting/frying are required to remove any toxic compounds present in the leaves. Drying of leaves after sorting will stabilise the leaves from bacterial contamination, but may affect the concentration of desired bioactive components.
Extraction of bioactive components from leaves can be done by traditional methods such as maceration, infusion, percolation, decoction or advanced techniques such as enzyme treatments, microwave treatment, ultrasonic extraction, pressurised liquid extraction, sub-critical and super critical fluid extraction methods. Advanced techniques reduce the solvent use, time and energy required for the extraction and increase the yields.
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