Spot the Difference: Herbal vs. Organic


Some people are confused about the difference between herbal and organic items. This is what some marketers take advantage of by saying an herbal product is organic just because it contains the word “herb” in it. Some buyers would sometimes complain that the item they bought contains ingredients that should not be there.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to distinguish herbal products from organic ones. The next time you buy an herbal soap in the Philippines or any other country, you will know exactly what you’re getting.

What does herbal mean?

Herbal products come mainly from plants that are grown using either chemical or organic methods. It may be mixed with other ingredients to turn it into anything consumers might need, such as lye and fragrance to make soap. Others would use the plants as they are and that still means it’s herbal.

Herbal products are used in many different cultures in the world. These are commonly employed in medicines and skincare regimen. The other term used to describe herbal products is “botanical.”

What does organic mean?

When we say organic, it doesn’t have to be something that came from a plant. Organic products can come from animals as well. The way the animals or plants are grown makes them organic. No chemicals were involved when they were produced. This means no chemical pesticides or fertilizers for the plants and no chemical feeds for the animals. Preserving the byproduct also does not include any chemical element. Everything is organic.

Distinguishing organic products from inorganic ones is not limited only to the chemicals used. Genetically modified organisms or GMOs are also prohibited. So, if fertilizer is derived from plants but is genetically modified, organic producers won’t accept that.

Can an herbal product be organic and vice versa?

Herbal products can be organic as long as no chemicals or GMO’s were involved in their making. In addition, an organic product can be herbal if all or most ingredients used in it came from plants. However, it’s not always 100 percent chemical-free. Some organic certification bodies approve products despite containing only 95% organic ingredients.

The other side of the coin is another possibility. Herbal products can be inorganic if the ingredients were grown using chemicals. The same way, an organic product can be made from another element aside from plants.

Distinguishing the two


Distinguishing organic and herbal products is easy. You just need to check the label and read the list of ingredients. Organic products, especially food, are labeled accordingly. Some accounts say there are four organic labeling categories.

  • 100% organic means no chemicals are added
  • Organic means 95% of the ingredients are organic
  • Made with organic ingredients means around 70% of the ingredients are organic. It should not contain GMOs.
  • Some products use organic ingredients, but don’t put it on the label because it’s less than 70% of the entire product. It’s written on the ingredients list, but not on the front panel.

Just because a product is labeled herbal does not mean it is organic. Keep in mind that herbal comes from plants wild organic comes from chemical-free ingredients and these two should not be confused.

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