Ethically and Sustainably Sourcing Herbs – Nov. 20, 5:30 pm

Ethically and Sustainably Sourcing Herbs – Nov. 20, 5:30 pm

PRESENTED BY | Tara Miller

Herbs and herbal products are an ever-growing industry. More people are seeking out the practice of herbal medicine and the use of herbs in healing and herbal supplementation has grown dramatically. As more people are drawn to the healing power of plants, it becomes increasingly necessary to ensure the sourcing of herbs is done in a safe, sustainable, and environmentally responsible way. We should be aware of the products we consume and the impact we have as consumers on the ecosystems and cultures that produce them. By becoming aware of our choices and how we can influence the herbal market, we empower ourselves to become more educated consumers and gain a greater understanding about what it takes to grow, harvest, produce and bring to market our herbal medicines.

Increasing demands for bulk herbs and herbal products has grown tremendously in the past 30 years. According to the Herbal Medicine Market Research Report, herbal products are expected to reach $60 Billion per year by 2023 worldwide. The US herbal market is the third largest global market. Many herbs that are commonly used are grown and harvested in countries outside the US. How these herbs are produced is not widely regulated and testing has found heavy metals and other toxins in the herbal products that reach our shelves. How the medicine we use is grown, processed, and produced should be a major consideration for every herbalist and lay person alike. We want to know how our food is grown and produced and it should be the same for the herbal medicine we use.

Sustainability requires a look into the deep ecology of herbs. It is difficulty to produce a standardized product when working with herbs. The quality of water and soil in which the herbs are grown play a major role in the quality of the final product. There are differences in medicinal constituents from plant to plant that vary from season to season and a difference in quality of herbs grown in different places. How does wild foraging differ from farming herbs? What impact does the newest herbal fad play into the sustainability of herbs? Can we use herbal analogs to achieve the same result while protecting some herbs from overharvesting? How can we ensure the herbs we use today will be available for generations to come?

Another factor to consider is the impact of harvesting practices on indigenous peoples around the world who rely on herbs for their medicine. According to the WHO, plants are used by 70-80% of the world population as medicine and are the only source of medical care for many people around the world. We must consider the impact we have on the wild herbs and the indigenous people who rely on them. Fair trade practices for wild crafting allows indigenous people to make a fair wage to support their families and incentivizes people to follow guidelines for safe and clean practices when wild harvesting.

Ann Armbretcht is the founder and director of The Sustainable Herbs Program by the American Botanical Council. The Sustainable Herbs Program seeks to educate and identify improvements in the supply chain of herbs from harvesting to production to market. She believes herbs should be safe, effective, and affordable, and that herb companies should seek to protect biological diversity and natural ecosystems while supporting cultural diversity by providing a living wage to farmers and wild crafters.

Good manufacturing practices help to ensure the products and bulk herbs you buy are produced using safe and effective methods. In 2007 the FDA published the famous white paper outlining GMP’s (Good Manufacturing Practices) for herbal products, regulated as dietary supplements. The paper lays out guidelines for quality control measures and testing of products and ingredients to help ensure safety for the consumer. GMP’s outline practices that help manufacturers ensure their products are produced in a way that regulates quality control, safety, and cleanliness. It is vitally important that we continue to test herbs for contamination and adulteration and educate companies and producers on best practices for maintaining the integrity of the herbs we use.

In this class we will be looking at the impact of the growing herbal market and the impact that it has on the reliable sourcing of herbs and the cultures it effects. Some of the topics we will be discussing are:

  • How to recognize environmentally sustainable practices in herbal sourcing.
  • How to maintain biological diversity and healthy ecosystems.
  • What does environmental stewardship and sustainable sourcing mean? What is organic? What is fair trade?
  • The effects of wild gathering on indigenous cultures.
  • Domestic and International herbal sources. What is the impact of each?
  • The use of essential oils in sustainable herbalism.
  • Production, Processing, and Quality control measures. How to know you are getting a good product?
  • Planting/Growing common herbs.
  • Wild Crafting/Foraging in healthy ways.
  • Know your farmer, how to research, what questions to ask.
  • Soil and Water sustainability, the source of all things.
  • Herbal Fads and Trends, the next cure all.
  • Endangered herbs, how to find out and how to help.
  • Cost as a consideration, how to weigh the real costs.
  • The role of educators and herbalists in sustainable practices

[The content of this blogs does not necessarily represent or express the views of CSCH.]

 •   •   •   •   •

To register, contact Tara at tara.miller@clinicalherbalism.com

DATE & TIME | Wednesday, November 20, 2019 • 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
LOCATION |
CSCH, 424 E. Simpson Street, Lafayette, CO
COST |
$10

PROGRAMS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH |
Fair/Wild Program https://www.fairwild.org/
Sustainable Herbs Project http://sustainableherbsproject.com/
AHPA http://www.ahpa.org/
Herb Research Foundation http://www.herbs.org/robbio.html
United Plant Savers https://www.unitedplantsavers.org/#

RESOURCES |

  1. Market Research Future https://www.marketresearchfuture.com/reports/herbal-medicine-market-3250
  2. The Sustainable Herbs Project http://sustainableherbsproject.com/
  3. World Health Organization website https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/8/07-042820/en/

© 2019 Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism | Lafayette, Colorado