Sourcing and researching key Ayurvedic herbs

Joanna Webber

Do you know where the Ayurvedic herbs you prescribe come from and how they are grown?

The importance of the herbal medicine industry is growing and is projected to be worth $140bn by 2024, with demand increasing by 10-20% a year. However, over 90% of herbs are still harvested from the wild. And with one in five plants now threatened with extinction, the need for a new approach to wild plant collection has never been greater. Where herbs come from, where they are grown and how they are extracted is clearly hugely important and this session will outline Pukka’s approach.

Established in 2008, the FairWild Foundation promotes the sustainable use of wild-collected ingredients, with a fair deal for all those involved throughout the supply chain. We feel the FairWild standard helps protect plant species that grow in the wild and the beauty of their natural habitats, whilst respecting deeply rooted traditions and cultures and helping support the livelihoods of the communities that depend upon them. For us here at Pukka, FairWild is an exciting and essential initiative – it allows us to strengthen our relationships with the incredible collectors who work hard to bring the power of herbs to others. Pukka currently has 32 teas that include Fair Wild ingredients. Case studies will be shared for Licorice and Bibhitaki. Find out more: www.fairwild.org/

Another key standard we have adopted is Fair For Life. This certification ensures fair and positive relations for everyone: between producers and their cooperatives; workers and their employer; sellers and buyers - whilst ensuring performance of standards. All of our 40 delicious teas have been certified Fair for Life, which means they contain a minimum of 20% fair certified ingredients. The session will share success stories for both FairWild and Fair For Life case studies, such as helping conserve the Great Pied Hornbill through protecting the Bibhitaki tree in the Western Ghats of India. Find out more: www.fairforlife.org

Looking at herbal extraction, you may know that many herbal compounds are extracted using the chemicals acetone, methanol or hexane. These powerful substances are not good friends of the planet; they are effective solvents but with poor biodegradability, and some questionable impacts on human health too. Four years ago we set ourselves a task: to find a method of capturing all that is good in a plant, in a more energy-efficient, environmentally sound way. We’re proud to say that – after a lot of hard work – we’ve done it and this session will explain this ground-breaking new technology which we have called ‘wholistic’ – for the simple reason that it captures the ‘whole’ goodness of the plants we use in a broad-spectrum ‘holistic’ extract, giving us purer and more potent ingredients to pass on to users of herbs. We produce Wholistic versions of Turmeric, Neem, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Shatavari and Triphala. The final yield of these herbal extracts is several times more potent than anything found in standard Ayurvedic herb powders and capsules – with the potential to help your patients recovery.

Beyond extraction techniques, this session will cover research which supports the concept that organic crops have higher life-protecting antioxidant levels than their non-organic equivalents. By using organic growing techniques along with wholistic extraction to harvest a plant’s natural goodness, we’re doing our best to both source and extract herbs more sustainably.
Finally, we’ll outline our world-leading scientific research with top institutions, on which we spend around £200,000 a year. We do not support animal studies, feeling clinical trials in humans are the gold standard of research. For example, in 2018 we looked at the quality of phytochemicals in Wholistic Turmeric vs competitor products in light of adulteration in the herbal industry. All stages of turmeric production – what we call the value chain (growing, storage, processing, manufacturing) can alter its phytochemistry and quality. In Pukka Tea we use the dried root high in essential oils but in our supplements, we use the Wholsitic extraction to gain a wider range of phytochemicals. With University College London (UCL), we compared phytochemical profiles of Wholistic turmeric with competitor products. We looked at at levels of ar-turmerone essential oil and curcuminoid. Turmerones increase bioavailability and also support a wider range of health benefits. Our research shows both the Wholistic extract and powders contain higher levels of ar-Turmerones and curcuminoids than a range of competitor products.

Pukka researchers are also collaborating with clinicians in Tel Aviv to look at the anticancer effects of wholistic Turmeric in a human clinical trial, reaping the benefits from the phytochemicals in the whole root. The study is looking at familial adenomatous polyps (a type of benign tumour in the gut that is genetically linked and very common in Israel. 30 patients will be assigned 4g of wholistic Turmeric or a placebo daily for 6 months. The study will assess if Turmeric effects polyp number and size; how the colonic microbiome effected and the safety of this treatment approach.

With interest in anti-biotic resistance growing, another exciting clinical trial is looking at the effect of Andrographis on respiratory infections at Southamptom University. Over 30 million prescriptions for antibiotics are given annually in the UK for viral infections of the upper respiratory tract. This contributes to the acceleration of anti-biotics resistance as they are ineffective against such infections.

Pukka Herbs was founded in 2001 by Tim Westwell and herbalist Sebastian Pole with one clear mission: Through the incredible power of plants we inspire people to lead a more conscious life. We strive every day to help create a Pukka planet benefitting people, plants and the planet. Today we are the fastest growing organic tea brand in the world, harnessing the incredible power of nature to create our award-winning organic & ethically sourced herbal teas & supplements, whilst acting as a force for good, building a business model that feeds social fairness, environmental regeneration and fair economics wherever we grow. We work with over 10,000 farmers to grow over 150 herbs. Find out more: www.pukkaherbs.com

Partner 2018


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