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?