Herbs’ qualities on the decline?

May 31, 2009 by Micah  
Filed under In the Lab

We’ve noticed a somewhat disturbing trend in our lab work with plants, and we’re wondering if anyone else has seen the same changes, too.

The plant raw materials we’ve been getting have been declining in potency and strength, as well as showing a drop in energy and intelligence. This is happening with all our sources, from US suppliers and those abroad, with both popular medicinal herbs and more obscure shamanic ones. We have seen this decline in cultivated, semi-wild and wildcrafted herbs, organic, biodynamic, and conventionally grown.

We have every confidence in our suppliers’ integrity and care, and since we have seen this decline across the board, we are in no way blaming anyone. We work primarily with small companies and individuals who we know well, and we’re sure everyone is doing the same great job they always have. We think this change is coming from somewhere else, out of any human control.

We first noticed this decline about a year and a half ago, in the middle of our usual winter restocking extraction cycle. We would run an extract of the usual amount of plant matter, and it would need to go much longer to get to the colour, taste, energy, and concentration we were looking for. We thought this was due to our change in altitude and climate from moving, just an adjustment that needed to be made in a dynamic system with many variables.

But then, we gradually had to start increasing the amount of herb for the same amount of alcohol, and do two or even three changes of plant matter to get the results that just one used to give. That’s when we started to wonder and even worry a little, as so much more time and materials became necessary to get to the same point.

Although our Spagyrics are not standardized, and we are very much against the whole notion of chemistry-inspired standardization of herbal products, we do work to our own set of standards. There are certain markers we look for at different points in the processing, such as colour and texture changes, development of flavours, and density of the overall liquid extract. We’re also tracking the subtle qualities of the extract as it becomes a Spagyric, to make sure that the plant’s best intelligence is brought forward in a living way.

These markers let us adjust the processing as it goes along, so that by the time the extraction is done, the same high quality is achieved with each batch regardless of how the process started or progressed. This is what makes our work an Art: like an artist, we step back from the work as it is happening to evaluate and actively direct it to the best outcome. Following a static recipe and then relying on chemical-only lab analysis at the end may be scientific, but it’s not artistic and won’t bring a living result.

So, because our approach has always been artistic and flexible, adjustments during the process are to be expected. Even though we are using much more plant, we are still making Spagyrics at the same high level we expect of ourselves, and we don’t offer any Spagyric that falls short.

Still, the degree of adjustment and the drop in plant potency and intelligence is upsetting, and we are not sure what to make of it. Some studies indicate that a great drop in nutrients has occurred in vegetables over the last fifty years, and this decline is seen in both organic and conventional farming. Possible explanations include plant breeding focused on quantity, rather than quality, along with loss of soil health, climate change, or pesticide use.

None of these explanations answer all the questions regarding the decline in medicinal herb quality, though, and it is probably some interaction of many factors. Climate change is one possibility, although the herbs of many countries are affected, even when those countries’ weather has not changed uniformly, since some areas are getting hotter as others cool, some wetter as others dry. General decline in the health of the soil, as well as a more subtle aging of the earth and its life force may be a cause, but could this effect be seen in just a few years?

We are wondering if anyone else has seen such issues, whether in the plants in your garden, the food at your local market, the health of your animals or patients, or the wild areas you visit. What changes are you seeing, and what are you thinking and doing about them?

Comments

12 Responses to “Herbs’ qualities on the decline?”
  1. lihin says:

    Greetings, The underlying explanation of the general worldwide plant weakening you mention may be the current end phase of the Iron Age we are in. 2012 and 2030 appear to be particularly significant years in this respect. Even “ordinary” people realise that global population explosion etc. cannot continue much longer. Kind regards, lihin

  2. Peace. I studied Rosemary Gladstars course “The Art and Science of Herbalism” and also with two local Master Herbalists on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We were hit very hard by Katrina a few years ago, and are still recovering. To get to the point… I go out in search of local native medicinals and find there is NOT a decline in potency, but the same wonderful GIFTS from the Creator. We have so many native plants here that people in other parts of the country WOULD LOVE to have! I make my own tinctures and teas. Enough to share with family and friends…. anyway, wanted to share my perspective. Thanks! Please SEE my sculptural web site in which I even use native leaves such as “bearsfoot” to create works of ART.

  3. Micah says:

    Becky,
    Thank you for weighing in on this issue! I am so glad to hear that you are still finding the healing power that you are looking for in your local area, and I am heartened by what a testimony that is to the resilience of Nature and those who respect Her. I always love hearing about local medicine makers who support those around them, there is a special magic in medicines created by the hands that bring them to you, an energy that mass-manufactured stuff just can’t touch. Collecting those plants yourself adds another level of intelligence to your work, and I’d be happy to hear more about what you find in your area. Thanks also for pointing out your art, your pieces are beautiful and interesting, very alive!

    -Micah

  4. Becky Dennis says:

    Peace Micah,
    Your kind words are received and appreciated. Was checking on the web site and happen to see where you had visited. Wondered if you were able to read any of the stories that i share on it?
    Yes, herbalism is alive and well here. There are many people awakening to the healing power of the plants and their Wisdom to work With us. My Teachers always empower others to learn to make their own teas and tinctures and not become dependent on them… the Interest has grown so much. I agree that collecting with “reverence” does add intelligence to the process. It must be done consciously. Never harvest more than you need or can use and always leave plenty behind.
    I have a Love of many herbs and a particular fondness for Yellow Dock for the iron it contains and purifying power. Also, lemongrass and lemon balm make a Beautiful Tea to get thru the humid summer months and to cool my aging body. Passion flower is a wonderful Nervine and i also love oats. Probably one of the dearest to my Heart is Hawthorne. It should be in drinking water! Everyone these days would benefit from its Power to strengthen and fortify. Personally, I also love skullcap when i really can not sleep.Then there is elderberry…. oh my, we have so many Plant Friends here. My Teacher makes an arthritis formula using bearsfoot, magnolia pods (when they are ripe with the red berry) and poke Root ( i believe) that i have heard is effective. Anyway, wanted to get back with you and share this since you did say you would be happy to hear what we have in our area. Normally i do not purchase tincture but IF i must, then i find eclectic has wonderful products. Are you Familiar with them?
    Feel free to email if you would like and if you are ever desire unique clay art, i am here to Serve. Peace… Becky

  5. Greg Markham says:

    Good day all,

    Micah — I don’t know if you’ve considered growing some of the herbs yourself, but, if so, you can replenish the soil by using a concentrated form of energy native to all living species. It’s something that’s only recently been rediscovered and is called Ormus. There are numerous sources, but one that I’ve found that focuses primarily on making this available for use with plants can be found at http://www.sea-crop.com. All I know is that they derive their Ormus from Pacific Ocean sea water. The result is not only a measurable increase in size (as well as in taste), but also in fundamental health, energy, disease resistance, etc. Well worth checking out.

    –Greg

  6. Micah says:

    Greg,
    Thanks for the suggestion- we do grow some herbs ourselves, and those seem to be doing fine, some are still adjusting to being moved to a different climate, but overall, they seem strong. Minerals are of such great importance in growing plants, and I think that’s part of what the Ormus plant products give, along with the living structure of the natural minerals that carries them to the plant in a vital way. I think, even though the Ormus phenomenon as such is new, many older ag discoveries account for this, such as Spiral Stone and other stone meals.

    We worked with the Sea Crop years ago when we lived inland, and it was helpful to our plants, and easy to use when you don’t live by the ocean. Now, since we’re just a few blocks away, we collect seaweed and add it to the compost and a bit to the soil, and it works wonders for the plants.

    -Micah

  7. mary leck says:

    Micah,

    What you are seeing is evident to me and i am not an herbalist or farmer.
    My husband and I have a property in upstate N.Y. and I see a depletion.

    There is an intelligence that is deeper within the core of the planet that
    will correct all of this. Maybe that is what 2012 is going to be about.

    I really appreciate what you wrote. It is my first time looking at your sight
    after hearing about you from a David Wolfe interview.

    Mary

  8. z1 says:

    Greetings,

    While I was still reading this article I thought about an article I read just not long ago. It talks about the Earth’s magnetic field, which currently has been weakening at an alarming rate. Does this phenomenon have something to do with recent changes on global climate, or even chemical composition of Earth’s atmosphere? I guess yes…..Since “nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates”, I think it is possible that the diminishing of earth’s vibration cause the diminishing of vibration in plants.

    -z1

  9. Micah says:

    z1,
    Thank you for your thoughts on this. What you suggest here is the type of answer we’ve come up with, too, as it covers the global nature of the problem, and the way that it is not confined to any one area, cultivation method, or local environmental condition. I think at this point, what I’m trying to remember is that Nature always moves towards balance, and that even though the shifts she makes to get there are destablilizing for some beings, the whole process always moves towards harmony at some point. We can’t really know what changes might be in store that serve the greater good, especially when in the midst of it, it doesn’t seem so good! I’ll look into the magnetic field studies some more, and see what wisdom might be there for better understanding.

    -Micah

  10. Micah says:

    Mary,
    Thank you for visiting our site, and for your comments!

    I think you’re right about the intelligence, as I said in my earlier reply above, I try to remember that Nature knows what she’s doing, even if we don’t always have the perspective to see the whole picture. I guess we just get lost in the trees and can’t see the forest. Interestingly, this article is one of the ones we’ve gotten the most response to, both here and in person, and so in a way, I am encouraged that so many people are paying attention to the ecosystems they spend time in, and are able to see differences. I don’t know about the 2012 connection, I’m still trying to sort out that whole package of thought, but it does seem to be a time of change for us all.

    -Micah

  11. Becky Dennis says:

    Greetings Micah (and ALL)
    I went in and was checking my web site and saw where a few visits came thru from this Lovely area/post. So, I popped back in to say PEACE and give a little update.
    Now, in our garden on the immediate Gulf Coast, and on our 3 acreas of Land in Wiggins, Mississippi, I am finally Seeing that the plants medicine is not as potent. MY Husband commented that He had to take more to get the same effect. Perhaps I live with blinders on and simply SEE what I choose to see. In many ways, it is my Happy Place and I usually dwell there.
    However, once more we are threatened by something (ALL of US…not just those of us on the Gulf) and I really do feel as though the RUG has been pulled out from under me. Not sure why I am writing this, but I wanted to follow up and make a little connections. Well wishes to ALL and may the Mother Earth Heal from her wounds that WE have been inflicted on Her either directly or indirectly. By the way, it is TIME for solar and wind Power! It would make Life much better for ALL and even the PLANTS with their wonderful, albeit, weaker Medicine.
    Blessings, becky dennis

Trackbacks

Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] two batches of a Spagyric can be remarkably different when made at two different times. We’ve talked about the dark side of this, related to the quality of herb that is coming to us these days, and that is [...]



Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
Note: comments are moderated- spam will not be approved.