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Phytosomes: The New Technology for Enhancement of Bioavailability of Botanicals and Nutraceuticals

S Bhattacharya


Lipid solubility and molecular size are the major limiting
factors for molecules to pass the biological membrane to be
absorbed systematically following oral or topical
administration. Several plant extracts and phytoconstituents,
despite having excellent bio-activity in vitro demonstrate less
or no in vivo actions due to their poor lipid solubility or
improper molecular size or both, resulting poor absorption
and poor bioavailability. It is often found that, when individual
constituents are isolated from the plant extract there is loss of
specific bio-activity. Sometimes some constituents of the
multi-constituent plant extract are destroyed in gastric
environment when taken orally. Phytosomes are advanced
forms of herbal formulations that are better absorbed, and as
a result produce better bioavailability and actions than the
conventional herbal extracts. They are produced by a
patented process whereby the standardized plant extract or
its constituents are bound to phospholipids, mainly
phosphatidylcholine, producing a lipid compatible molecular
complex. This phyto-phospholipid complex (phytosome)
resembles a little cell. Phytosomes exhibit better
pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile than
conventional herbal extracts. Phytosome technology has
been effectively used to enhanced the bioavailability of many
popular herbal extracts including milk thistle, Ginkgo biloba,
grape seed, green tea, hawthorn, ginseng etc and can be
developed for various therapeutic uses or dietary

Keywords: Phytosomes, plant extract, bioavailability