All of the medicinal herbs prescribed at Roish Herbal Apothecary are either grown organically or sustainably wild crafted when organic sources are not available.
We believe that health and healing extends beyond just our immediate human health and encompasses a more global view towards a healthy environment. Partnering with companies that are mindful towards sustainability and the environment means that we can provide a service of healing and wellness that is in harmony with the natural environment.
Wild crafting is the practice of gathering herbs from the wild and can lead to overharvesting and a loss of local plant biodiversity. The companies that we choose to partner with have policies supporting sustainable harvesting practices, thus preventing overharvesting. We should always leave more than we take and of course, this means that next year there will be more of those wonderful plants bringing their wonderful gifts.
As gardeners know, adding phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium to the soil alters the presentation of the plant. Plants may have larger leaves, produce more or less flowers, and roots will concentrate certain minerals over others.
The tradition of using plants as medicines involves a thorough knowledge of when and where to harvest, the part of the plant to use and how to use it. For example, St. John’s wort is so named as it was traditionally gathered on 24th June, St. John’s day. Studies have shown that the medically active constituents in plants are highest at a time coinciding with traditional harvesting dates.
Forcing the plant artificially can alter the natural balance of the plant and favour growth of say leaves over flowers or vice versa. This can change the active constituents and potentially the medicinal properties. For example, the oils in aromatic plants such as sage and lavender are different when grown under organic and non-organic conditions. To ensure that medicinal quality is aligned with traditional use we use the precautionary principle and choose organic first.
Moreover, plants that are grown organically, without the use of agrochemicals, generally have higher phytonutrient content. Phytonutrients (or plant nutrients) are substances produced in plants in response to stress and protect the plant against, for example, disease, damage, pests or drought. Producing more plant nutrients makes the plants more robust and resilient so more likely to survive.
We benefit hugely from this as the plant nutrients are often part of the medicinal action of the plant or play an antioxidant role in our bodies. Again, we can be confident that we are providing the best medicinal quality by choosing plants grown organically.
Most commonly, herbalists use tinctures when prescribing herbs. Tinctures are alcohol and water extracts of herbs. This combination ensures that all the water and fat soluble constituents of the plant are extracted, capturing the benefits of the whole. It allows concentration of the herbs, which facilitates the combination of several herbs in a formula for a client. Traditionally, this is the way that herbs have been prepared and prescribed.
Production of medicinal herbal tinctures is a specialisation within the field of herbal medicine with only a few producers internationally that can supply to the therapeutic standard required by practitioners. Qualified herbalists source herbs from reputable manufacturers. This guarantees that the herbs are manufactured according to Good Manufacturing Practice standard, provide consistent quality, and are sustainably sourced. These standards provide confidence when prescribing.