"My time in India working with and learning from Dr. Uniyal and Dr. Katiyar over four years was one of my most enlightening and important pivotal moments of my formulating career. There combined understanding of the unique combination of Botany, Ayurvedic Traditional Medicine and Modern Medicinal use of plants inspired and influenced me vastly. Together they changed my way of interpreting ancient Ayurvedic plant use and practices into modern scientific cosmeceutical formulating, and I will forever be grateful to have been afforded the honour of working so closely with them".
"My education in Ayurvedic Medicinal plants during my time in India taught me to view all plants through the eyes of a Botanist and a Pharmacologists. Prior to this exposure I viewed plants as whole plants... sounds a little obvious... however, I mean that I viewed them as a complete item."
"For example; Argan Oil was excellent for such-and-such a purpose, and Jojoba Oil was good for another purpose, Rosehip all was good for so & so, and Eucalyptus was good for X,Y,&Z!"
"Not necessarily so...the first, and most important, thing I was taught by my illustrious colleagues was this:
THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON LEARNT
Unless the plant is grown organically or natively in its evolutionary intended environment (Wild Harvested), the plant often fails to create the active medicinal qualities (Secondary Metabolites) that it may be legendary for. "
WHY ORGANIC GROWING IS SO IMPORTANT TO PLANT ACTIVES?
Mother Nature is a complex chemical laboratory... she needs all the correct soil conditions, microbial companions in the soil, and in many cases the environmental challenges that life throws at the plant to survive in its native habitat.
The wonderful medicinal, healing, nurturing, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, protective actives found in plants are called Secondary Metabolites.
They are produced as a direct effect of the plant defending itself from environmental challenges such as intense UV exposure, extreme heat, extreme cold, fungal attack, insect attack, drought, animal grazing, etc...
These challenge-events in a plant's life have caused the plant to evolve over the millennium to produce the various chemicals to protect itself and flourish in a particular environmental setting.
Further, the plant roots produce "exudates", fluids that feed and nurture certain types of beneficial microbes (bacteria, fungi, yeasts) in the soil that the plant requires to survive. This is known as a symbiotic relationship.
The majority of root exudates, including primary metabolites (sugars, amino acids, and organic acids), are believed to be passively excreted from the roots on a constant low-level basis in order to maintain the beneficial soil microbes, however, here is the important bit...
Plants can modify the concentration of exudates they excrete in order to influence the microbial environment in the soil around them. In other words, the plant switches on and controls the beneficial bacterial growth around their roots as and when required.
In turn, these microbes produce the vital chemicals the plant requires to produce its medicinal actives. The plants can not create these medicinal qualities without the correct microbiome being present in the soil.
Take the plant out of its natural habitat or grow it synthetically and all of the beneficial secondary metabolites may not be produced.
"Similarly to the human gut microbiome which lives symbiotically within each of us, the microbial life in the soil exists in a symbiotic relationship with the plants. Both need each other to create beautiful chemistry!" Peter says.
Additionally, the plant component (leaves, roots, stem, flower) must be harvested at the correct seasonal time in order for the beneficial actives to be present. If a plant is not harvested correctly then the secondary metabolites will not be present.
And finally, the plant biomass (leaves, roots, stem, flower) must be processed in a form that maintains the often sensitive fractions of sought after active secondary metabolites. These processes, when done correctly preserve these actives so that they can become bioavailable to the skin and scalp.
"I learned during my travels in India and Bhutan of many examples where unsustainable sourcing or off-season wild harvesting of medicinal plants was abundant. Further, there was a great deal of fraudulent doctoring of essential oils, plant essence, and died powdered extracts, whereby an unscrupulous trader would pass-off a faux precious oil by diluting the required oil with mineral oil, or another plant oil of similar fatty acid profile, but the final oil would contain none of the active secondary metabolites required." Peter shared.
Sometimes the plant extracts, oils, and powdered actives are partially, or entirely counterfeit, as are many of the organic certificates. As a manufacturer it would be very difficult to independently assess these anomalies, however, Dr. Uniyal's personal introduction to his network of trusted growers and suppliers has enabled Plantworx to build lifelong trusted business relationships with our supply chain.
In those areas we have not built personal relationships with a grower or trader, we have the confidence which comes from COSMOS auditing. Our Auditors have special scannable barcode systems on legitimate organic certificates, and secure global databases that enable them to determine if a raw material is legitimate or has been counterfeited or diluted with other cheaper components.