By Zane Christopher
The other weekend I spent my time with healers and herbalists, the scientific and the profound, from across the globe. It was my first time attending this event but definitely one I intend to return to. The mixing of different healing systems in a space that promotes easy discourse and shared thinking was a blessing. It took place at the ever idyllic Wheaton College located in Norton, Massachusetts.
The place was abuzz of green and held the glory of the soon-to-be summertime in New England. Herb walks happened throughout the conference, some 8-10 of them a day. There were so many classes that everyone had to make tough decisions on what knowledge they would have to miss to attend anyone class.
Some of the classes included the likes of:
-The Paleolithic roots of Eurasian and Amerindian Herbalism
-The Importance of Intuition in Traditional Afro-Caribbean Healing
-Is the Practice of Wild Harvesting in a Global Market a Road Map to Extinction?
-Impact of Stress on the NeuroEndocrine System
-Entheogens and Healing: A Cross-Culture Case Study.
Many more classes, events, activities and performances also took place. The symposium had something for everyone. It was truly amazing the scope of it all
I would just like to take some time to discuss those classes and some of the information I gleaned from this event that could actually be handy for those of us with other occupations then herbalists or healers.
The Federal Drug And Food Administration
For awhile now, we at Lost Empire Herbs have been working hard to bring our products in line with what the FDA desires of dietary supplements since that is the jurisdiction that we fall under. Our primary goal for the year of 2015 has unfortunately been this. I say unfortunate because we would much rather be spending our time on finding more high-quality herbs, doing research, marketing to spread knowledge and especially doing events and promotions to meet more of the people that use our products.
Mandatory the law is though and that is perfectly respectable. Even if you despise certain activities of the FDA, you have to acknowledge and respect the fact that they have standardized food and supplement manufacturing and packaging for the safety of the consumer. That is their primary objective even when one regards some of the more draconian rules they have established.
My first class was thus an 4-hour intensive with the exciting name of FDA Compliance for Small Herbal Companies with the Quality Control experts from the well known tea company Traditional Medicinials. I learned a lot from them especially involving quality control of product.
Something many Westerners have come to expect is that identification and testing is a clear cut science when in reality it is not that exact all the time. In fact, I am going to be training on High-Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) in the future, which we currently hire Alkemist Laboratories in Costa Mesa, California to do for us to identify our herb materials. With this, I will be able to potentially disagree with FDA inspectors about the facts of their independently referenced material which they use to compare to our own tests. This is because these tests can be in a big way subjective and many factors effect the end test results like season, place, soil makeup, random pollen in sample, etc. among other things. Advanced science and technology certainly helps with plant identification but it is not the end all that the average consumer believes it to be.
Our society likes clear-cut definitions and boundaries between things. Science on the other hand is more and more beginning to shove in our face what many tradionalists, religions and native peoples have been telling us all along, that the world cannot be separated into little pieces isolated from each other while ignoring the whole. The world does not work that way and the sooner one realizes this, the sooner one can begin to see new possibilities and information open before them.
My Chinese Medicine teacher liked to have us look at boundaries. Boundaries of fields and forests, transition zones between different ecologies, the boundary of the skin, the boundary of a city or that of light in relation to its environment. There is activity everywhere one looks in the world but at these boundaries lies the most activity. This is because it is the collision space for two or more worlds.
The more we separate, the more boundaries we create, the more action we witness, the more boundaries we will need to create to describe that action, ad infinitum.
Separation to focus on some detail is good, just don’t forget to take a step back to see it in reference to how it effects the rest of the universe.
All tangents aside, there was way too much information to be learned in this class and I do not want to bore you with the details (so tedious…). The take away from this post is that in the near future you may notice changes taking place at Lost Empire Herbs if you haven’t already. This will be in our labeling, our ability to prove through tests that what we offer is legit as well as safe to consume and our assurance (through some “official” seal no doubt) that our manufacturing practices are sound. We do this for you as well as for ourselves, since we are our own customers and only desire the best.