Frequently Asked Questions
We have been proudly Canadian for all of 35 years! All our tinctures and capsules are made in Canada with herbs that are sourced from Canada wherever possible and globally in the case of those that are not native to Canada or are not able to be grown in our climate.
If a product’s label does not have a dosage listed for your child’s age, we do not recommend giving the product to your child without first consulting with your Healthcare Practitioner or Naturopathic Doctor.
Taking a tincture on an empty stomach aids quicker absorption by the body. You can take the tincture anytime up to five minutes before a meal. If you need to take it after a meal, it’s ideal if you wait a couple of hours. If this isn’t possible, it is better to take your tincture when you can rather than not at all.
When it comes to the unique properties of plant medicines, there is no categorical rule of thumb or principle about the exclusive use of either fresh or dried herb in the making of tinctures. It is best decided on a case-by-case basis, as it depends on any given herb itself.
Here at St. Francis Herb Farm, we honour herbal traditions, and, when it is evident that a certain remedy is “best made fresh,” we make the tincture from fresh plant parts wherever possible. In other instances, drying is a good thing, serving in fact to concentrate the herb’s active compounds by eliminating unnecessary moisture.
In short, there is no advantage to be derived from using fresh herb, unless the literature explicitly suggests it.
Sediment is a normal, naturally occurring event in most tinctures. This can happen after the product has been filtered and bottled and occurs when substances become separated out of a solution. If the product is shaken, these particles can result in the product appearing cloudy. All our tinctures are manufactured by traditional means, and sediment is both a natural and safe by-product.
There are many advantages to organically- grown herbs, including more nutrients, no toxins, and fewer impacts on the environment.
We’ve been strongly committed to organic principles from the very beginning, and we pursued our Canadian organic certification movement in the early 1990s. Today, we are the only Canadian company that provides certified organic tinctures.
Just about all the herbs in our carefully crafted formulas are grown organically using sustainable farming methods. Alternatively, in a small number of cases, our herbs are wildcrafted. In either case, there are no pesticides, no toxins, and no GMOs!
Read more on our blog: Why Organic Herbs Mean Higher Quality Medicine
Alcohol is vital for extracting active compounds from herbs in tinctures, and it also acts to stabilize and preserve them. Without using alcohol for extraction, the beneficial compounds are less bioavailable – meaning they more difficult for the body to assimilate from the raw herb alone. Alcohol also acts as an antimicrobial preservative and inhibits undesirable enzymatic reactions in plant extracts.
In addition, alcohol acts as a circulatory stimulant, helping to deliver the active ingredients of an herb to wherever they are needed in the body.
Yes! The alcohol in a tincture can be almost completely removed by a simple method. Bring a cupful of water to a boil, remove from heat, and add the required drop dosage of the tincture. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes or so. Once cool enough, the resulting mixture can be consumed.
Because alcohol evaporates very easily, almost all the alcohol will be removed by this method without compromising the medicinal properties of the tinctured herbs.
It’s important to remember that the amount of alcohol in a dose of tincture is very small.
Here is a helpful comparison: researchers at Indiana University found that a standard glass of orange juice contained between 0.2 and 0.5% alcohol. Thus, at 0.5% alcohol, an average 10-ounce glass of orange juice has 1.5 ml of alcohol. In other words, for a 10-year-old child, a maximum daily dose of our Deep Immune® Kids Tincture, for example, has as much alcohol, roughly, as one glass of orange juice.
We do not recommend taking Deep Immune® while pregnant or breastfeeding. Instead, you might try Echinacea 2+, which is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
If you have high blood pressure, we recommend our Deep Immune Licorice-Free formula.
Deep Immune® is a preventative remedy that can be taken as a daily tonic year-round to support a balanced immune system. Once an infection takes hold and symptoms arise, it’s best to move away from Deep Immune® to an echinacea-based formula like Virafect or Echinaseal®. Echinacea products are better suited for the acute stages of an illness, to help shorten the intensity and duration of a cold or flu virus.
Adaptogens are plant remedies that help the body adapt to stress and push back against fatigue. They act like a thermostat, constantly working to bring the body into a state of homeostasis or balance by stabilizing its physiological processes. Deep Immune® and Strest® are our premier adaptogenic daily formulas. With continuous use of these formulas – or any adaptogenic herbs – we suggest an ongoing, recurring cycle of 3 weeks of use followed by a 1 week break to help regulate the body’s process of homeostasis.
Bitters offer a natural, comprehensive approach to digestive health, containing bitter and pungent herbs that stimulate the body to produce its own enzymes, digestive juices, hormones, and coenzymes.
In other words – they facilitate digestive processes and increase bioavailability and absorption of essential dietary nutrients.
Enzyme supplements provide the body with an outside source of digestive enzymes that can help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of digestive problems, but do not address the root issues.
Here is an analogy: Bitters are like being given a garden plot with seeds for a dozen different vegetables that you can grow on your own for your daily salad. Enzymes, on the other hand, are like being given just one carrot daily for your salad.
Ideally, bitters should be taken before meals, but, if you forget or it’s not possible, after meals works as well.
Acidux is a remedy complementary to digestive bitters and is typically taken after meals to help relieve symptoms of acid reflux.
Learn More: Herbal Relief to Quench the Fires of Heartburn
Our Canadian Bitters® original is our long-established, award-winning formula that offers natural digestive support in a therapeutic grade herbal tincture.
Canadian Bitters® Maple is similar, but slightly less bitter, with the addition of maple syrup that adds a touch of sweetness.
Canadian Bitters® Apple Cider Vinegar has the added benefit of apple cider vinegar, known to support healthy stomach acid levels in a de-alcoholised formula with a touch of honey.
In short, all three products fulfill their role of enhancing digestion, each with their own slant and unique features.
The first time the body encounters certain substances in the environment known as antigens (e.g., pollen), the immune system reacts by producing antibodies to help defend – a healthy, normal response that helps to build “memory” in the immune system.
The next time the body encounters the same substance, it triggers these antibodies to activate an immune response that releases histamine and inflammation.
This release is meant to help protect the body, and, ideally, the immune system maintains a state of tolerance to harmless “invaders”. But, if the immune system is compromised or imbalanced, there is an excess of histamines and inflammation produced!
The result? Gooey, itchy allergy symptoms: swelling, runny nose, congestion, and watery, red eyes.
Learn more about the root cause of allergies here.
Allergy Relief with Deep Immune® is a two-pronged allergy solution that provides symptom relief plus addresses the underlying cause of an over-active immune system. To achieve this, we’ve combined the essential herbal elements of our classic Deep Immune® formula with homeopathic ingredients.
Also – there are no side effects like drowsiness or dryness!
Herbs that benefit allergy sufferers are most effective taken internally in our tinctures and capsules, while homeopathic remedies offer targeted relief on site to the nasal cavity, in a formula that also has a direct lubricating effect on nasal tissue for fast-acting relief. Herbal products in their crude form are generally too strong for direct application to the nasal mucosa.
It is also safe for children – 12 months and older!
Yes! They can safely be combined for relieving symptoms.
Read more about the advantages of doubling up here.
Both our Deep Immune® products and Allergy Relief with Deep Immune® address the underlying cause of allergy, i.e., an over-active immune system. However, Allergy Relief with Deep Immune® also addresses allergy symptoms, i.e., itchiness, congestion, runny nose, and watery eyes.
Ideally, you should start taking Allergy Relief with Deep Immune® 4-6 weeks before allergy season and then throughout the season. Otherwise, start immediately and take it for as long as allergy season lasts. As for Deep Immune®, simply take it year-round, but stop when you switch to Allergy Relief with Deep Immune®.
The name says it all. St. Francis Herb Farm’s Sinafect® is the perfect formula when it comes to relieving the symptoms of sinusitis (sinus infection) and nasal/sinus issues related to allergies (and colds & flu). Use for acute sinusitis when it lasts less than 4 weeks. For chronic sinusitis, when it lasts longer than 4 weeks, use in a 2 week rotation with Oréganum Plus gelcaps for a highly effective solution.
Oréganum Plus Capsules contain not only oregano oil, but also black seed oil and garlic oil, which makes it a unique product on the market. Oréganum Plus Capsules play a key role in treating chronic sinusitis (lasting longer than 4 weeks), while Sinafect® is recommended for allergy-related acute sinusitis (less than 4 weeks). For effective treatment of chronic sinusitis, we recommend rotating the use of Sinafect® with Oréganum Plus Gelcaps every 2 weeks.
Read more about our Allergy Relief products on our blog: Your Complete Guide to Allergy Relief
Here is a summary of the benefits of each product in our Women’s Health line:
Menopause Support – use daily for the management and relief of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.
Regular Flow – herbal support to reduce heavy menstrual flow.
Menstrual Tonic – use daily throughout your cycle to regulate it and ease common conditions like painful periods.
Chastetree (capsules and tincture) – a hormone normalising herb that helps stabilize menstrual cycle irregularities in cases of both PMS and menopause.
PMS Support – relieves premenstrual symptoms (you should use for a minimum of 3 months)
UTI Clear – supports urinary tract health and fights benign urinary tract infections.
Black Cohosh – a single herb that also relieves premenstrual symptoms and that eases muscle and rheumatic pain arising after menopause.
Crampbark – another single herb, aptly named, for relief of muscle spasms and menstrual cramps.
Phytothyro – for low thyroid function, to ramp up energy levels and metabolism.
Fenugreek-Blessed Thistle Capsules – increases milk supply in breastfeeding mothers.
Cala Gel – a lubricant and moisturizer for vaginal dryness and discomfort
Breast Oil – gently reduces pain, infection, and inflammation from mastitis or breast abscess.
For a more detailed chart, check out our Women’s Products Info sheet.
Learn More: Women’s Health – Herbs to Balance and Support
Note: Generally, depending on your individual physiological needs, formulas are to be preferred to single herbs in dealing with any given condition.
Menopause Support is our go-to formula for the daily management and relief of menopause symptoms. It features black cohosh, a hormone-regulating herb that helps reduce hot flashes and night sweats, as well as dong quai, which is known as “female ginseng.”
Regular Flow, which features shepherd’s purse and wild geranium, both traditional anti-hemorrhagic herbs, as well as hormone-balancing chastetree, is our formula for excessive menstrual flow.
Our Menstrual Tonic, which features dong quai, an herb that has been called “female ginseng” and that has a regulating effect on menstruation, is our primary uterine tonic, one that can be used daily throughout your cycle to ease common conditions such as painful periods. Menstrual Tonic may be supplemented by our Chastetree (tincture or capsule), a classic hormone normalising herb that will help you regulate your period.
Yes, our PMS Support formula can ease your condition. It features dong quai, a versatile estrogenic alterative that has been called “female ginseng”, and black cohosh, an endocrine-regulating gynecological herb. PMS Support also contains motherwort, an herb long used for female reproductive disorders and rhodiola, a superb adaptogen. It may be supplemented by Chastetree (tincture or capsule), a classic hormone normalising herb that helps with PMS.
Learn More: Herbal Support for a Healthy Pain-Free Cycle
Yes! While this product is sold under our Women’s Health line, it can also be taken by men to effectively treat urinary tract infections.
Learn More: Herbs – Powerful Allies in Battling UTIs
The mushroom or fruiting body, which you see above ground, is the only part that should be referred to as “mushroom.” It is grown in natural conditions, with fresh air and sunlight on wood – this is critical, as the wood carries the precursors for many of the key medicinal compounds we want in a mushroom supplement. Mushroom fruiting bodies are genetically more complex and have more medicinal properties – as they are where most of the powerful biochemical constituents reside.
The mushroom is what has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine and provides a full spectrum of medicinal compounds, including a rich content of the well-researched therapeutic constituent, beta-d glucans.
Mycelium is often grown in a lab on grain, is cheaper to produce, does not offer a broad spectrum of constituents, and is very low in beta glucans, as starches make up a large part of the ingredients. Most importantly – it is not the mushroom itself!
St Francis Herb Farm medicinal mushrooms are 100% pure organic mushroom and are rich in 3rd-party-tested beta-d glucans, the highly researched immune supportive compound.
If a product states it is a combination of both mushroom and mycelium, it is likely primarily mycelium. It’s important to check what % is fruiting body – mushrooms are more expensive and therefore likely to be included in insignificant amounts just to facilitate the claim of their being present.
Wild Chaga grows naturally in the vast forests of Canada, Russia, northern China, and northern climatic zones, where birch makes up the primary tree species. Though Chaga is commonly referred to as a mushroom, it is a fungal growth with a dark, pigmented outer layer that resembles burnt charcoal. For hundreds of years, Chaga has been wildcrafted and utilized by the people of northern Europe and Russia.
Birch trees have specific compounds from which Chaga draws directly, converting them to synthesize the triterpenoids that distinguishes it medicinally from other medicinal mushrooms.
Supplements made from mushroom (fruiting body) can be comprised of dried mushrooms or extracted mushrooms.
With extraction, the key medicinal compounds have been drawn out of the mushroom via liquid, to make these compounds more readily available to our bodies by breaking down the tough fungal cell walls (the cell walls of mushroom are made of chitin – a fibrous substance consisting of polysaccharides). It is necessary to break down chitin, so medicinal constituents can effectively be absorbed.
Depending on the type of mushroom, extraction is done using hot water, or both hot water and alcohol. For some mushrooms, the dual extraction ensures better access to terpenoids, which offer additional health benefits.
In the case of dried mushrooms that have been ground up into a powder, it is harder for the body to access and absorb the active compounds. Grinding them up to an even finer or “micronized” powder helps, but, because the tough cell walls have not been broken down, the medicinal compounds are still not as available as they would be after extraction. This also significantly increases the daily dose requirement, i.e. the amount of pills/day.
Our mushrooms are extracted as follows and contain X% beta-glucans:
Water only extraction
- turkey tail – 35.9% (min 31.1 % -38.1 max %)*
- chaga – 4.4% (min 2.6% – max 7%)* (full spectrum is what is therapeutically relevant)
- reishi – Avg 34.2% (min 31.4%-max 37.7%)
- chaga – 4.4% (min 2.6% – max 7%)* (full spectrum is what is therapeutically relevant)
- lion’s mane – Avg 26.4% (min 21.8% – max 28.6%)*
*based on testing of all lots for each mushroom – since these mushrooms are naturally grown there is variability across lots – so we are showing the average as well as the min and max range.
- Upton R. American Herbal Pharmacopeia and Therapeutic Compendium: Reishi Mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum. Standards of Analysis, Quality Control, and Therapeutics. U.S.A. Canada: Santa Cruz; 2000.
Make sure your supplement is made from the fruiting body. Then, if there is only a high-volume number indicated, e.g., 800mg-1500mg, this is dried ground-up mushroom. If, on the other hand, there is a lower number e.g., 100mg-300mg, this means it is an extract.
For example, on our Lion’s Mane label you will see: High Potency 170mg, 8:1 extract/equivalent to 1360mg. This means the extraction process takes 1360mg of dried mushroom down to 170mg of high potency extract (8:1 extract) – which is why you only need to take 2 capsules per day!
Don’t be misled by claims associated with % of polysaccharides. Starches (from myceliated grain), as well as beta glucans, are all polysaccharides, the difference being that starches have no medicinal value.
On some products, you will sometimes see the % of polysaccharides noted as a supposed measure of medicinal potency. This is misleading. Polysaccharides include beta-glucans, but also the starches from myceliated grain, which serve no medicinal purpose. So, it is critical to look for the % of beta-d glucans as one of the main indicators of medicinal benefit.
High potency means there is a high amount of medicinal compound in a form the body can absorb and use, in a small amount of powder. This means you need to take fewer capsules per day to get a therapeutic dose.
Our medicinal mushroom supplements are extracts of the fruiting body and therefore provide a high potency dose in just 2 capsules/day. Our 60ct bottle = 30 days or 1 month’s supply.
Not only are you getting a very high-quality supplement, but, because it is in a concentrated form, it also means you get a therapeutic dose in only 2 capsules per day.
TIP: Check the daily dosage on the label! Some may look like they are a lower price/bottle but could in fact only amount to 2 weeks’ worth supply versus another that is slightly higher in price but is 4 weeks’ supply and so a much better value.
We have partnered with Nammex, a Certified Organic, North American based distinguished grower and manufacturer, specializing in extracts made from mushrooms and widely recognized for the quality and integrity of their products
For 40 years Nammex has been a leading player in creating high quality mushroom extract powders. Their farming operation is based in China’s Qingyuan County, an area renowned for its pristine, unpolluted natural setting, ideal for the growing and harvesting of mushrooms, situated deep in the mountains far from the country’s industrialized centres. Their mushrooms are grown on natural substrates, such as sawdust and hardwood logs, in shade-houses or greenhouses where there is a constant flow of fresh air and clean water.
The therapeutic use of mushrooms lies at the very heart of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). IN China, they have been cultivating mushrooms for hundreds of years, and TCM Practitioners are the acknowledged masters of this healing art.
Mushrooms utilized as health products are rarely cultivated in North America due to prohibitive costs. Most mushrooms today come from Asia, primarily China, which produces 85% of the world’s supply. Even Japan, a traditional mushroom producer, is the number one importer of Chinese mushrooms.
None. Although alcohol is used in the extraction process, it is all evaporated by the time we arrive at the powdered extract.
Mushroom supplements are not all created equal! Ensure your mushroom supplement is made from the fruiting body, is an extract, and that the beta-d glucan levels are tested and listed on the label.
St. Francis medicinal mushroom supplements are made from the fruiting body, and the medicinal compounds are made most available to the body via extraction. They are third-party tested for beta glucans – the proven immune supportive active component.
A study conducted in the U.S.  tested 19 reishi supplements, and only 5 were found to be in accordance with what they claimed on their labels, 3 of those 5 being from Nammex, our supplier.
- We take care to use the key medicinal part of the mushroom and to process it as it should be processed to gain optimal benefit. Our mushroom extracts from the fruiting body and not lab-grown mycelium. To ensure optimal potency and absorption, we use water and/or alcohol to extract all its key medicinal components.
- We place great stock in the quality controls that we have put in place every step of the way. Our rigorous product testing regime verifies therapeutic effectiveness. In fact, all along the way, we have quality controls in place to ensure the integrity of the final product including these key steps:
- Growing mushrooms sustainably without the use of agricultural chemicals
- Using specially selected natural substrates such as protein enriched sawdust and hardwood logs as the food base for the mushrooms to guarantee the production of important medicinal compounds.
- After harvest and before processing, testing every crop of mushrooms for possible chemical drift or other contamination.
- Passing all water used in both the extraction and cleaning processes through an ultra filtration system that filters out heavy metals, pesticides, industrial solvents, dissolved solids, bacteria, viruses, and pretty much any waterborne contaminants.
- Facilities that are Certified Organic and GMP certified, meaning that they follow Good Manufacturing Practices. Critically, all the air that enters the clean areas of the building is filtered. All clean spaces are monitored daily for possible entry of airborne microbes.
- Complete microbial testing for bacterial, yeast and mold, e coli, and coliforms before final packaging
- Heavy metals analysis and pesticide testing that exceeds USP standards, as well as an organoleptic evaluation (i.e., assessment of flavour, odour, and appearance).
- After shipping, a further round of microbial, heavy metals, and pesticide testing by qualified 3rd party labs.
In addition, tests are completed for the following:
- beta glucans – to ensure the presence of active compounds.
- ergosterol – to ensure fungal purity.
- alpha glucan testing – to guard against adulterants and carriers
- triterpenoids in the case of reishi and cordycepin in the case of cordyceps
- a final organoleptic evaluation.
Our goal is to bring you the very best the world has to offer. No mycelium, no grain, no starch. We grow genuine mushrooms, naturally, the way nature intended.