An overview of the sources of plants used in the production of herbal pharmaceuticals, food and cosmetics is all connected. The demand for herbal products has grown exponentially since the 1970’s. I have been involved in food co-ops since that time when the natural and organic food and herbal industries first started. Many a co-ops were the first businesses to feature herbs and essential oils for home use and many of these products are still sold throughout the United States. So where is all the botanical raw material coming from? Its points of origin are literally from the entire planet except Antarctica.
As a business owner who sells seed for native plants of the North American prairie, loss of biodiversity and habitat restoration is an important topic that everyone who uses herbal products should be aware of. Recently, I researched the origin and medicinal uses of the genus Rosa for medicinal, cosmetic and food use. It was a real eye-opener. My idea was that we here in the US are missing an opportunity to produce organic and sustainably produced rose product for medicinal, cosmetic and food use. In researching this topic, an entirely new world literally opened up as a farmer and grower and educator.
Some of the obvious results have been the growth of a natural products industry that has given rise to national and international regulations and production standards. Finding the information has been straight forward, however, access to some of the information requires joining the associations at a particular monetary cost for some organizations. This is similar to the online journal fees for the scientific chemical and medical journals. Many natural and organic compounders of products are interested in becoming certified. There are associations and trade groups that protect rainforests (Rainforest Alliance), Fair Trade, Non-GMO as an example. With the growing importance of hemp, herbal medicines and special diets, these certifications can give a business that cares a boost to customer appreciation. Some of these providing certifications for herb products are listed below:
Caron Wenzel is an Environmental Educator, writer, and is the owner of Blazing Star Inc. a 29-year-old native plant seed nursery and environmental consulting business. Blazing-Star.com.