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Twisting Road, Peru

Ethical Sourcing

There are many herbs we cannot grow ourselves. For these plants, we source ethically from a diverse range of suppliers, from wildcrafters to farmers and brokers. While we prefer to support local and independent farms, our commitment to responsible sourcing takes us to almost every continent on the planet. Once sourced, all of our herbs are subject to a rigorous series of customized quality checks.

Why Source Herbs?

We work with more than 250 plants and plant parts, and not all are well suited for cultivation in our corner of the world. Maca, for example, grows best at high altitudes in the Peruvian Andes Mountains. Kava thrives in the tropical islands of the South Pacific. And Rhodiola prefers cold northern tundra climates. We could grow decent Cayenne in our region, but “decent” isn’t good enough, so we ethically source it from hotter climates.

Different plants thrive and produce higher concentrations of sought-after phytochemical constituents in different environments. Some prefer forests, high altitudes, or the tropics. For this reason, we work with cultivators who grow the plants we need in the region and context that best suits those herbs.

The Peruvian Maca Harvest is a Family Affair


Other plants, however, create the best concentration of phytochemical constituents when they undergo the stress of surviving in the wild. So, we work with responsible wildcrafters who harvest the plants from their native environments.

We rigorously vet our wildcrafting partners to make sure that their practices conserve the long-term health of wild plant populations. In an effort to do whatever we can to keep all plants species safe for future generations, we limit our wildcrafted sourcing to plant species that have robust populations that can sustain the practice.

Wildcrafted Chaste tree

When Sourcing Won't Cut It

Sometimes there is no right way to procure a particular plant that meets our specifications. Some plants are difficult to cultivate at a commercial scale to our specifications and wildcrafting may not be a viable option.

If we determine that there is no ethical route to an herb, we’ll discontinue selling that product, even if it’s popular like False Unicorn and American Ginseng. It’s an unpleasant decision because we always want to provide our customers with the best possible herbal extracts, but we simply won’t do so at the expense of an at-risk plant population. We’re passionate about the mission of the United Plants Savers (UpS) and the work we do with them to ensure that native herbs will be here for generations to come.

Getting to Know Our Suppliers

We are unapologetically rigid when it comes to meeting our own quality and ethical requirements. So before working with a new source, we put their herbs through a series of rigorous tests. Only once our evaluation is complete, do we begin a working partnership. From there, the evaluation is always ongoing. We even visit many of our suppliers both domestically and internationally to examine their facilities and ethical practices.

The Secret to
St. John's Wort

Our St. John’s Wort is picked wild in southern Bursa around the time of the summer solstice. Our dedicated wildcrafting partners head to their secret wild plots, cut a precise amount of the flowering top off with their hand-held sickle and then drive the flowers directly to our facility. We extract the herb fresh soon after harvest. Read our article about wildcrafting St. John’s Wort.

Wildcrafting St. John's Wort

Sourcing Maca in Peru

The Journey for Maca

Way up in the mountains of Peru grows the wonderfully beneficial root, Maca. Visiting this amazing region is no easy feat. Fortunately, our VP of Botanical Affairs, David Bunting, trekked to our sourcing site to verify ethical growing practices and chronicled the beautiful voyage.

See and read more about his journey.

Testing our Herbs

After determining a source is valid, we test every lot of every herb. All lots from all partners – old and new, near and far – are subject to the same rigorous testing program. We want to be confident in the herbs we sell, so we never take anything for granted.

We perform multiple corroborating identity tests that include sensory or organoleptic evaluation, macroscopic evaluation that assesses morphological features of plant, high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC), which provides a phytochemical fingerprint and other methods as appropriate. Additional core evaluations and testing include designated plant part conformity, foreign materials assessment (including other plant parts) and microbiological testing. Further testing may be carried out on a case-by-case basis. Please visit Our Process page for more information on our testing protocols.

One Part of the Process

Ethical sourcing methods are just one part of the multifaceted process we use to create our quality herbal extracts. Only after a source has been verified and its herbs tested do we allow the herb to enter our extraction facility. Learn about our extraction process here.