What is Herbal Alchemy? The Art of Formulation
The Importance of Formulation—The Science of Plant Alchemy
Formulation is defined as “the action of devising or creating something.” In the context of herbal medicine, a formulation is the action of devising or creating a medicinal or health-promoting blend of herbs. To create an herbal formulation that is truly beneficial is an art that requires an understanding of each herb and its properties, how the herbs in the formula interact together, and what overall effects they will have on the body once consumed. Taking it one step further, a good herbal alchemist will also greatly consider the most effective way for the formula to be absorbed by the body.
Hydrosol - the Medium in Formulation
Our team chooses to use hydrosols for many of our herbal products for a variety of reasons. Hydrosols, also known as "distilled flower waters," have been used for centuries in home remedies and by practitioners of traditional medicine. In the western world until recently, hydrosols were often treated as an unwanted by-product of distillation and discarded.
During the process of steam distillation, vapor passes through parts of the plant such as the leaves, stems, barks, seeds, flowers etc. and breaks the cells containing essential oils and volatile ingredients with a low molecular weight. The vapor is then condensed to water by cooling.
If essential oils are present in any considerable amount, the water usually condenses at the bottom of the container and essential oil and other volatile organic ingredients float on top of the water. The essential oils are then separated, packed and sold and the water that was previously discarded as a by-product is packed and sold as a floral water, hydrosol, or any other terminology used by suppliers. Instead of discarding this water as many people often do, we choose to use it as the medium for many of our herbal formulas.
A true hydrosol is made of condensed water captured after steam distillation. This ingredient is sterile on its own because it has been a hot vapor and almost no microorganisms can tolerate the temperature of steam. The application of steam is a popular sterilization or disinfection method, depending on the duration of contact and vapor pressure.
Hydrosol Formulation Allows Better Absorption
Hydrosols are much less concentrated than essential oils and also contain water-soluble constituents, from the plant material, that are not present in the essential oil. Because hydrosols are water-based and much less potent than essential oils, they’re also easy to blend into therapeutic formulation. A plant’s hydrophilic (water-loving) compounds are extracted into hydrosols much as they are into an herbal tea. Because of this, we are able to extract many of the water-soluble compounds of potent herbal medicines and formulate them in a way that offers maximum absorption and effectiveness to the body.
Because much of your body consists of water, many of the water-soluble nutrients found in herbs circulate easily in your body. Water-soluble nutrients are absorbed directly into the bloodstream as food is broken down during digestion or as a supplement dissolves in the body.
Since many of the herbal medicines that we use have water-soluble compounds, we are able to extract and combine them in a hydrosol formula that allows for greater absorption in the body than most other extraction methods. This also allows us to create formulas that are not dependent upon alcohol extraction, though this method of extraction also offers great therapeutic uses.
The Importance of the Herbal Combination and Process of Extraction in Creating Quality Formulation
When shopping for hydrosols–especially if you plan on consuming them internally–it’s important to find pure, undiluted hydrosols that have been distilled in sanitary conditions and tested for microbial contamination. Our team works in a highly controlled and sterilized lab, and tests each of our products individually to be sure that they contain no contaminants.
Not only is the method of extraction of great importance in herbal formulation, but the combination of herbs that are extracted also plays a major role. Our team has over 40 years of experience in herbal formulation and takes great care in understanding the herbs that we work with, and how to combine them in a way that is most supportive for the intended purpose of the formula we are creating.
For example, our Rejueination Blend combines:
- Mucuna pruriens, an Ayurvedic herb that is a natural source of levodopa (L-dopa), an essential precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine, and is also known to support a healthy central & peripheral nervous system, support the body’s ability to handle stress, and improve energy.
- Green Coffee Bean, which contains the powerful antioxidant chlorogenic acid, which significantly improves mood and brain function, protects against heart disease, enhances performance, boosts your metabolism, and helps you maintain a healthy weight.
- Moringa, a plant rich in essential vitamins and minerals, as well as containing many healthy antioxidants and bioactive plant compounds.
- Tulsi, a powerful anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating, adaptogenic herb, that helps in the reduction of stress and stabilization of the mind.
- Amla, which is rich in phenolic compounds, making it a powerful antioxidant, helping the body to recover from oxidative stress.
- Ginger, which is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and has also been shown to reduce muscle pain and soreness in the body.
- Turmeric, a plant that is rich in health-promoting compounds called curcuminoids, which are known to have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
- Aloe Vera, a medicinal plant with a gel that contains many bioactive compounds, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants, and also lowers blood sugar levels and soothes irritation in the stomach.
- Fenugreek, which has been shown to balance cholesterol, soothe upset stomach and digestive problems, reduce menstrual cramps, maintain liver and kidney health, soothe muscle pain, and even reduce fever.
Each of these powerful medicinal herbs has a range of health benefits on their own, and when combined together, they offer a potent rejuvenating tonic that helps to naturally energize the body and mind, as well as enhancing your levels of vitality and vigor.
This is the beauty of herbal formulation—we can combine powerful medicinal herbs and formulate them in specific ways that offer much more than the herbs could offer individually. Bringing together the ancient wisdom of traditional plant medicine, as well as the knowledge offered by modern science, we are able to create truly effective herbal formulas that offer a variety of health benefits.