The Business of Botanicals
Using herbs to heal the body is an ancient practice, but in the twenty-first century, herbal medicine is also a worldwide industry – in 2019, consumers spent more than $9 billion on herbal supplements. In ‘The Business of Botanicals’, Ann Armbrecht describes her journeys to herb collection sites, farms, and factories in North America, Europe, and India to tell the stories of the people and places behind the bottles of herbal products on grocery store shelves.
From tulsi to turmeric, echinacea to elderberry, medicinal herbs are big business-but do they deliver on their healing promise-to those who consume them, those who provide them, and the natural world?
“An eye-opener. . . . [Armbrecht] challenges ideas of what medicine can be, and how business practices can corrupt, and expand, our notions of plant-based healing.”-The Boston Globe
“So deeply honest, sincere, heartful, questioning, and brilliant. . . . [The Business of Botanicals] is an amazing book, that plunges in, and takes a deepening look at those places where people don’t often venture.”-Rosemary Gladstar, author of Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs
“For those who lovedÂ Braiding Sweetgrass, this book is a perfect opportunity to go deeper into understanding the complex and co-evolutionary journey of plants and people.” -Angela McElwee, former president and CEO of Gaia Herbs
Using herbal medicines to heal the body is an ancient practice, but in the twenty-first century, it is also a worldwide industry. Yet most consumers know very little about where those herbs come from and how they are processed into the many products that fill store shelves. In The Business of Botanicals, author Ann Armbrecht follows their journey from seed to shelf, revealing the inner workings of a complicated industry, and raises questions about the ethical and ecological issues of mass production of medicines derived from these healing plants, many of which are imperiled in the wild.Â
This is the first book to explore the interconnected web of the global herb industry and its many stakeholders, and is an invaluable resource for conscious consumers who want to better understand the social and environmental impacts of the products they buy.
“Armbrecht masterfully manages the challenges and complexity of her source material . . . [She]Â is a spirited storyteller . . . [and]Â presents all this with the skill of an anthropologist and the heart of an herbalist.”-Journal of the American Herbalists Guild