Ancient botanicals for modern concerns

Dr Kevin Robinson recently caught up with Dr David Foreman, the Herbal Pharmacist, to discuss the botanical renaissance

NBR: What led you to shift from being a traditional pharmacist to be a herbal pharmacist?

DF: I began to integrate natural products into the pharmacy I owned, which led me to learn more about their great variety of benefits and allowed me to educate my customers. My personal interest in natural products was fuelled by both my drive to learn and my passion for helping others to achieve the health they want and need. Educating people about the benefits of natural health and healing puts the power back in consumers’ hands to help them improve their health and wellness in a more natural and safe way.

NBR: What are some common herbs and botanicals and how have they traditionally been used to improve health?

DF: This is a great question. What’s common today wasn’t so well known 25 years ago when I started in this arena. I would have to say that herbs such as turmeric, boswellia, ashwagandha and rhodiola may be very familiar to many consumers. There are a growing number of scientific studies that have shown and discussed a wide range of benefits beyond just basic nutrition when consuming these and other natural ingredients … and people are noticing.

As research continues, there are other herbs and botanicals that are beginning to attract more attention, such as hemp oil and black seed oil, also known as Nigella sativa. In fact, a study conducted by the American Botanical Council found that the sale of black seed oil grew more than 200% in the natural channel in 2017.

NBR: What ancient herbs and botanicals have seen a resurgence in popularity and why?

DF: Recently, I have seen several ancient ingredients make it to the forefront such as boswellia and black seed oil. Boswellia was referenced in the Koran and Bible under the name of frankincense and black seed under the name of blessing seed. The latter, black seed oil, is relatively new for most people in the natural health market and, yet, the research on black seed oil is pretty compelling.

It has been shown to have positive inflammatory response effects, improve cardiovascular health, help to regulate glucose levels and, now, there is clinical research showing that black seed oil may be beneficial in sports nutrition applications.

However, for a consumer to get the maximum benefits of this ingredient, it is important that the finished product has the most potent and therapeutic dose. Black seed oil that is cold pressed, standardised to 3% thymoquinone (the active in black seed oil), with reduced fatty acid content, has been shown to be very promising in many areas that impact our health today. The only black seed oil product with this type of standardisation is the ingredient ThymoQuin from TriNutra.

Dr David Foreman, the Herbal Pharmacist

NBR: What new research has brought novel innovations to the natural products marketplace?

DF: Luckily, the natural products industry has reached a point whereby products and ingredients have a very difficult time making it to market unless they are backed by science. There have been several exciting areas of research, including vitamin D, omega-3s and black seed oil. Companies such as TriNutra have started investing more in clinical research to bring solid science to the end consumer.

Specifically, TriNutra has been conducting clinical research on the synergistic effects of combining their standardised black seed oil (ThymoQuin) with omega-3s (EPA and DHA). The results from this study show a significant impact and effect on the inflammatory activity response compared with omega-3 alone. Synergistic and innovative clinical studies such as this are helping our industry continue to build trust with consumers and regulatory officials.

NBR: What trends do you expect to see in 2019 from herbs and botanical ingredients?

DF: I see several trends in the area of herbs and other botanical ingredients. Herbs seemed to be flatlining for the past decade or so with the introduction of more isolates from those plants and in the area of fats.

With the rediscovery of several ancient herbs, such as the blessing seed, combined with modern research, we will continue to see more unique and potent products hitting the market. These plants have been used for thousands of years for a reason — they work!