Sandra Clair, founder of plant medicine company Artemis, explains why plant medicines are highly relevant for today’s healthcare.
This year Artemis is celebrating 20 years of bringing traditional plant medicine to New Zealanders. It has been an exceptionally rewarding journey considering the few professionally formulated natural healthcare options available when I started the company.
When I moved to New Zealand 25 years ago from Switzerland, I was surprised to find that high quality plant medicines were hard to find. Like the majority of Swiss, I grew up using herbal formulations as the first port of call to support my health before pharmaceutical medication. The use of plant medicines is a living tradition in European countries, and the Swiss government recognises their importance and effectiveness by subsidizing them. Our family doctor prescribed both options depending on the type and severity of the health issue at hand.
With a lack of access to high quality, clinically effective plant remedies for my patients I launched Artemis in 1998 after using a selected range of remedies with my patients over three years. I wanted New Zealanders to have access to medicinal grade, quality plant medicines that support effective self-care for many common health complaints.
Traditional plant medicine is still as relevant today as it has always been. With an increase in knowledge on its health benefits, ease of use and better access, it is gaining in popularity in Aotearoa.
Traditional plant medicine has been used for millennia around the world to help care for all types of health conditions and injuries. Me dicinal plants provide essential building blocks for organ health that cannot be found through diet alone. They have a cumulative effect on the body to help restore your physiology to an optimal level. Herbal medicines are increasingly validated by contemporary science tobe effective in many areas, including re-balancing hormones, aiding sleep, in depression or strengthening the immune system. They can be used remedially in acute situations, if you suddenly find yourself succumbing to winter ills and chills, or proactively, to protect your body’s natural defences and maintain your balance so that you are not falling sick.
One outstanding feature of traditional plant medicine is that it uses the whole plant for its preparations instead of isolated constituents as it is common with synthetic medication. This provides a synergistic effect by all active constituents which has simultaneous benefits on various body functions that are affected by a health complaint (e.g. a simultaneous anti-inflammatory, pain relieving and healing action). Whole plant remedies are also proven to be safer than their synthetic equivalents. For example, several meta-analyses have demonstrated that St. John’s Wort is significantly superior to placebos in cases of mild to moderate depression while being equivalent to synthetic antidepressants, but with less adverse effects.
Many cultures continue to use hot water extractions (medicinal tea) as their preferred form of plant medicine. This may be due to their ease of fitting into a tea break routine (they count towards the desired 2 liters of water per day), their high absorbability of active constituents and lower costs compared to more processed dietary supplements. For those who have pill fatigue but need a ready-made convenient solution on the run, oral liquids provide a concentrated remedy that can be taken by the teaspoon full. Remedial creams are excellent to bring healing and pain relief directly where a complaint occurs. Each plant remedy comes with its unique benefits, so make sure you choose the right one for you. If you need help, the fabulous medical herbalists and naturopaths at Huckleberry will be more than happy to advise you. With Artemis I hopes to empower you to support your health and the health of your family with effective and safe traditional plan medicines.