Botanicals have remained a primary source of traditional medicine for millennia. Herbal therapies, with their multiple actions on the body, are still the main source of medical care for 80% of the world. In the United States, pharmaceuticals began to replace natural remedies around 1930. In the last several decades, there has been a resurgence of research in the clinical efficacy of herbs. The results of such studies often verify that the empirical observations of the past centuries were accurate.
Because there is a greater acceptance of herbal therapies by conventional physicians in Europe, a significant body of clinical data supporting the use of herbs has been developed there. Nonetheless, there are over 1,000 clinical trials now being undertaken in the United States to increase our knowledge about herbs. The National Institutes of Health has even set up a center with a special focus on “alternative” medicine, and is now concentrating much of its resources on the study of herbal products.
Beyond a lack of funding for research on ingredients that cannot be patented, there are some inherent challenges, as plants themselves are much more complex than pharmaceutical drugs, some of which have been created from a single isolated extract of a single plant. (Think aspirin from willow bark or digitalis from foxglove). Plants often have hundreds of primary and secondary metabolites, and unlike pharmaceuticals, herbs are natural products, so the chemical composition of a particular plant can vary depending on several factors, including sun, humidity, type of ground, time of harvest, and geographic area.
In some cases, the active principles of plant-derived products have been isolated and characterized, and their mechanisms of action are understood. For many, though, including virtually all of the most common products in the marketplace, such information is incomplete or unavailable. This is also due to the complexity of herbal and botanical preparations; they are not pure compounds. It is also a function of the traditionally-held belief that the synergistic combination of several active principles in some herbal preparations is responsible for their beneficial effects.
All of the plants we use have a high safety profile. We rely on gentle, nourishing tonic herbs that can be taken regularly over the long-term to strengthen and harmonize the body’s systems.
It’s also worth noting that the purity, quality, and potency of herbs can vary significantly due to the quality of the soil, seasonal conditions, and the location in which they are grown. All herbs of the same name are not equivalent. Firstly, the herbs we select are not grown with pesticides — all are certified organic, sustainably wildcrafted, or ecologically cultivated. This matters a great deal. Beyond that, we do something that no one else does. We’re using plants with specific percentages of phytochemical compounds. The concentration of active compounds makes a big difference.