Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea is the name of a genus of flowering plants in the daisy family. They are native to North America where they grow in prairies and open, wooded areas . The word “echinacea” comes from the Greek word “echinos”, which means “sea urchin” or “hedgehog”. It has probably got this name from the prickly spikes found on the flower head. Echinacea purpurea has a long history of medicinal use for a variety of conditions, particularly infections, and today echinacea products are among the best-selling herbal preparations in several countries in the world.

Organic Echninacea

Here at Nature’s Laboratory produce various products using Echinacea purpurea plant parts such as, Echinacea purpurea organic root tincture, root fluid extract, root cut and capsules.

Biological Source

Echinacea purpurea (L.) (purple coneflower), a perennial herbaceous flowering plant is the most popular variety of echinacea used in Western countries , belonging to the Asteraceae (Compositae) family.

Background and Uses of Echinacea purpurea

An extensive literature survey revealed that Echinacea purpurea has a long history of traditional use for a wide range of diseases particularly colds and other respiratory tract infections, in addition to simulating the immune system. Many traditional uses of echinacea have been validated by scientific research. It is one of the most important herbal medicine species, containing a huge number of phytochemical compounds within it and possessing several pharmacological properties.

Macroscopical Details

Echinacea plants are resilient and drought resistant, but they grow slowly . The plant is either glaucous (waxy) and smooth, or sometimes hairy, usually with coarse hairs. The leaves are petiolate (stalked) below, becoming sessile (stalkless) and smaller above, and are prominently 3-5 veined, either ovate, lanceolate, elliptical, and coarsely toothed or entire. The Echinacea genus is characterized by spiny flowering heads, with an elevated receptacle which forms the “cone”. The roots are cylindrical, brownish grey on the exterior and white on the interior . Stems are erect, stout, branched, hirsute or glabrous (smooth) 60– 180 cm high: basal leaves ovate to ovate-lanceolate, acute, coarsely, or sharply serrate. The aerial stem is branching and has rough hairs and reddish-brown patches, giving it the appearance of a bush. It produces a rosette of leaves during the first year of cultivation and blooms only in the second year .

Phytochemical Details

It is generally thought that no single constituent or group of constituents is responsible for the activities of echinacea. Rather, several groups of constituents (the alkamides, caffeic acid derivatives, polysaccharides, and alkenes (such as polyenes) appear to contribute to activity. Aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea contain alkamides; caffeic acid esters, mainly cichoric acid; polysaccharides; polyacetylenes, whereas echinacoside is not present. Aerial parts of echinacea have also been reported to contain a phenolic acid called caftaric acid . Echinacoside is a main phenolic compound, but the fact that it is not present does not affect the activity of Echinacea. The volatile oil from the aerial parts of E. purpurea contains borneol, bornyl acetate, germacrene D, caryophyllene and other components.

Chemical Compounds in Echinacea purpurea

Medicinal Uses

Cold and Flu Relief

Echinacea purpurea is taken orally used as an antiviral, and immunostimulant. It is commonly used for the prevention of colds and other respiratory tract infections. It is frequently found in combination preparations with other vitamins, herbs, and minerals.

Immunomodulatory Effect

There are multiple reports indicating immunological effects of a wide range of echinacea preparations, comprising different species, plant parts and types of extract. Echinacea purpurea appeared to activate non‐specific cellular and humoral immunity and complement the immune system. The species was found to stimulate the immune system by means of increasing the production and activation of leukocytes, lymphocytes, monocytes, and cytokines.

Antiviral Potential

Reports describe that aqueous fraction of the stems, leaves, and flowers of Echinacea purpurea possess potent anti‐viral activity against herpes simplex virus and influenza virus. This activity was found to be attributed to the polysaccharide and cichoric acid components. Research carried out in vitro and clinical studies suggest that medicines containing Echinacea purpurea can effectively protect against infections with a variety of respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses.

Antioxidant Activity

Echinacea purpurea root is a natural source of antioxidants. Chicoric acid is the most abundant phenolic component in the root and petiole of E. purpurea. These antioxidant and antibacterial compounds can help the immunological system of the body to function better.

Antimicrobial Activity

In addition to well-known widespread use of echinacea in reducing the symptoms of colds and flu, Echinacea is traditionally employed to treat fungal and bacterial infections. However, to date the mechanism of antimicrobial activity of Echinacea extracts has not been reported clearly. Echinacea purpurea extract was screened by an agar well-diffusion method against many microorganisms: Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Aspergillus niger. The results showed that the extract showed a considerable growth inhibition on Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae while no growth inhibition zones were observed only for Aspergillus niger.


[1]. Flora of North America, Narrow-leaved purple coneflower, blacksamson echinacea, Echinacea angustifolia de Candolle in A. P. de Candolle and A. L. P. P. de Candolle, Prodr. 5: 554. 1836.

[2]. Vaverkova, Stefania, Mistríková, Ingrid, and Vaverková, Štefánia. “Morphology and Anatomy of Echinacea Purpurea, E. Angustifolia, E. Pallida and Parthenium Integrifolium.” Biologia 62.1 (2007): 2-5. Web.

[3]. A. Manayi, Vazirian, M. , and Saeidnia, S. , “Echinacea purpurea: Pharmacology, Phytochemistry and Analysis Methods”Pharmacognosy Reviews, vol. 9, no. 17, pp. 63-72, 2015.

[4]. Awang D.V.C. & Kindack D.G. 1991. Herbal medicine: Echinacea. Can. Pharm. J. 124: 512–516.

[5]. Mistríková, I.; Vaverková, Š. Morphology and anatomy of Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia, E. pallida and Parthenium integrifolium. Biologia 2007, 62, 2–5.

[6]. McGregor, R. The taxonomy of the genus Echinacea (Compositae). University of Kansas. Sci. Bull. 1968, 48, 113–142.

[7]. Maggini, V., De Leo, M., Granchi, C. et al. The influence of Echinacea purpurea leaf microbiota on chicoric acid level. Sci Rep 9, 10897 (2019).

[8]. European Scientific Co-operative on Phytotherapy (2003) ESCOP monographs, 2nd edn. European Scientific Co-operative on Phytotherapy, Exeter.

[9]. Binns, S.E.; Hudson, J.; Merali, S.; Arnason, J.T. Antiviral Activity of Characterized Extracts from Echinacea spp. (Heliantheae:Asteraceae) against Herpes simplex Virus (HSV-I). Planta Medica 2002, 68, 780–783.

[10] Shu‐Yi Yin, Wen‐Hsin Wang, Pei‐Hsueh Wang, Kandan Aravindaram, Pei‐Ing Hwang, Han‐Ming Wu, Ning‐Sun Yang Yin. Stimulatory effect of Echinacea purpurea extract on the trafficking activity of mouse dendritic cells: revealed by genomic and proteomic analyses. BMC Genomics, 11: 2010, 612.

[11]. Linda S. Kim, Robert F. Waters ND and Peter M. Burkholder MD. Immunological Activity of Larch Arabinogalactan and Echinacea: A Preliminary, Randomized, Double‐blind, Placebo‐controlled Trial. Alternative Medicine Review, 7(2): 2002, 138‐149.

[12]. Selvarani Vimalanathan, Linda Kang, Virginie Treyvaud Amiguet, John Livesey, J. Thor Arnason & Jim Hudson (2005) Echinacea purpurea. Aerial Parts Contain Multiple Antiviral Compounds, Pharmaceutical Biology, 43:9, 740-745.

[13]. Monique Aucoin, Kieran Cooley, Paul Richard Saunders, Jenny Carè, Dennis Anheyer, Daen N. Medina, Valentina Cardozo, Daniella Remy, Nicole Hannan, Anna Garber. Adv Integr Med. 2020 Dec; 7(4): 203–217. 

[1]. Juki´c, H.; Habeš, S.; Aldži´c, A,  Durgo, K.; Kosalec. I. Antioxidant and prooxidant activities of phenolic compounds of the extracts of Echinacea purpurea (L.). Bull. Chem. Technol. Bosnia Herzeg. 2015, 44, 43–52. [1]. P Stanisavljević, S Stojièević, D Velièković , V Veljković , M Lazic. The antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Echinacea purpurea L. methanolic extracts. Planta Med 2007; 73 P_145.

Herbal Apothecary and BeeVital Sponsor NIMH ‘Power of Plants Festival’ 2022

Together with BeeVital, Herbal Apothecary are delighted to be sponsoring the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ‘Power of Plants Festival‘ which is taking place in Fawley, Buckinghamshire, from 1st – 3rd July 2022.

The event is bringing together practitioners, producers and the general public for 3 days packed full of all things herbal. This is an ‘outdoor’ event – with camping provided on-site for those who wish to sleep under canvas, as well as campfires, evening entertainment and great food and drink.

What’s Happening

Friday 1st July

10:30 – Site opens to campers to set-up

12:00 – Festival opens

2:00 – The Power of Plants in Practice: Melinda McDougall is joined by Hannah Charman, Becs Griffiths and Robyn Soma to discuss the different ways that they harness the power of plants in their practices

3:30 – New Member Woodland Ceremony: Join us in our wonderful woodland to welcome some of our new members to their herbal family

4:30 – Steve Kippax talks about his approach to self maintenance and empowering patients to make better health choices

5:00 – Joe Nasr shares his experience of using aromatic waters in practice

Evening entertainment comes from the fabulous Lucky Cat

Saturday 2nd July

10:00 – Martin Powell (Main Tent) talks about medicinal mushrooms, focusing on what the different types of mushroom material are and what they mean clinically – using Reishi as an example

10:00 – Alex Laird (Forest Tent) explains why food IS medicine

10:30 – Jo Webster and The Peach team (Demo Tent) run a live vegetable ferment workshop. Learn about the importance of gut health and make your own vegetable ferment to take home. Spaces are limited, so please sign up in advance

11:30 – Rebecca Lazarou (Main Tent) presents ‘The history of herbalism, the science of herbalism, research in herbalism and the future of herbalism (and why our time has come again!)’

12:00 – Kate Parker (Forest Tent), one of our Registered Junior Herbalist Club Course Leaders, discusses why practitioners should look into becoming a JHC Leader

1:30 – Helen Kearney of Betonica leads a herb walk around the festival site (meet by the main gate)

2:30 – India Elyn (Forest Tent) shares some perspectives from her book ‘Honouring the Loss’

2:30 – Kate Parker and some of our students (Demo Tent) run a Junior Herbalist Club lesson on Lavender, for children of all ages!

3:00 – Amaia Dadachanji (Main Tent) explores the landscape of grief and longing within the wilds of plant kin listening and healing in her session ‘The Wild Beyond and The Tenderness of Grief’

3:00 – Marie Reilly (Forest Tent) talk about her approach to ‘Herbal Medicine and Reproductive Health’

4:00 – Carole Guyett (Forest Tent) explores the use of herbal medicine in pregnancy

5:00 – Anne McIntyre (Main Tent) reflects on how the process of updating her book re-opened her eyes to the possibilities of healing with flowers

Our evening entertainment comes from the Miss Jones Trio

Sunday 3rd July

10:00 – Hananja Brice-Ytsma (Main Tent) discusses herbal approaches to menopause

10:00 – Marcos Patchett (Demo Tent) explores the Secret Life of Chocolate in an interactive cacao session

11:00 – Natasha Richardson (Main Tent) shares her insights on ‘How medical objects changed the female body’

11:00 – Nat Mady of Hackney Herbal (Demo Tent) talks about growing and harvesting herbs

12:00 – Elisabeth Brooke (Demo Tent) leads a magival herbalism workshop. Places are limited so please sign up in advance

1:30 – The Power of Plants in Practice: Robyn Soma talks with Anne McIntyre, Beatriz Linhares and Steve Taylor, exploring the ways that different traditions harness the power of plants

The Festival will close by 3pm to allow time to break camp and travel home

Our Role

As well as running a stall, Jack, Fin and Shankar will be at the festival for the full weekend. We’ll be on hand to answer questions – we’re really looking forward to meeting existing customers and other manufacturers.

We also have an opportunity to present to the attendees on each day of the festival, in one of the big tents which are being used for the talks and workshops. It’d be great to see as many people there as possible, we’ll be sharing some important information about our business.

Look out for us in our black t-shirts – we can’t wait to see you!

Tickets Still Available

Tickets are still available for the event via the NIMH website.

Asparagus racemosus / Shatavari (Mother healer Rasayana botanical)

‘Rasayana’ is a specialized section of Ayurveda, which mainly deals with the preservation and promotion of health. In Ayurveda the word ‘Rasayana’ literally means the path that ‘Rasa’ takes (‘Rasa’: plasma; Ayana: path). Hence any medicine that improves the quality of ‘Rasa’ (‘Rasayana’) should strengthen or promote the health of all tissues of the body.

One of the key rasayana we work with at Nature’s Laboratory is ‘Shatavari’ (Asparagus racemosus).

Biological Source

Asparagus racemosus which is also called Shatavari, is a widely occurring medicinal plant belonging to the family of Liliaceae.

Background and uses of Shatavari

Shatavari is a well- known and valuable female-revitalising herb, whose name may be translated as “100 spouses”, implying its ability to increase fertility and vitality in women. In Ayurveda, this amazing herb is known as the “Queen of herbs”, because it is said to promote love and devotion. It is very effective in boosting female fertility and is traditionally used by women for overall health and vitality, to promote lactation, and as an aphrodisiac. Shatavari’s beneficial effect on women during their reproductive life is well established. It is widely used as a drug for conception and during lactation.

This wonderful healer has long-standing history and can also be found recommended in Ayurvedic texts for the prevention and treatment of gastric ulcers and dyspepsia.

This herb is found abundantly in subtropical and tropical zones such as Asia, Australia, and Africa.

a), c) Roots of Asparagus racemosus, b) Whole herb of Asparagus racemosus

Macroscopical Details

A. racemosus is a woody climber growing to 1-2 m in height. The leaves are small like pine needles, flowers are white and have small spikes. The flowers are arranged in clusters from an axil. There are 2-6, short, simple, few or many flowered racemes (flower clusters), 2.5 –8cm long which are either solitary or more often in crowded bundles of 3 or more. Root stock is stout and short, bears numerous considerably long, spindle- shaped succulent tuberous roots. The roots are perennial, fascicled (growing in a bundle), smooth, and the colour varies from creamish white to dark brown. The stem is scandent (having a climbing habit) twining, armed with strong straight or recurved spines at the nodes and woody when mature. Branchlets are angular.

Phytochemical Details

The major bioactive constituents of Asparagus are a group of steroidal saponins known as shatavarins (a saponin is a bitter tasting organic chemical).

Shatavarin I to IV and sarsapogenins (a sarsapogenin is a steroidal sapogenin) are present in roots, leaves, and fruits of Asparagus species.

Shatavarin I is the major glycoside with 3-glucose and rhamnose moieties (parts of molecules) attached to sarsapogenin. This plant also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, E, folic acid and traces of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and cobalt. Other primary chemical constituents of Asparagus are essential oils, asparagine, arginine, tyrosine, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, and rutin), resin, and tannin.

Phytochemicals of Asparagus racemosus

Medicinal Uses of Shatavari


There are several reports suggesting the potential of Shatavari to promote milk secretion in lactating mothers who have symptoms of deficient lactation, with positive effects on the hormone prolactin. A probable reason for this galactogogue effect could be the presence of steroidal saponins in this plant.[1]

Gastrointestinal Effects

The powdered dried root of Shatavariis used in Ayurveda for dyspepsia. Oral administration of powdered dried root of Shatavari has been found to promote gastric emptying in healthy volunteers. Its action is reported to be comparable with that of the synthetic dopamine antagonist metoclopramide[2]

In Ayurveda, Shatavari has also been mentioned for the treatment of ulcerative disorders of the stomach and Parinama Sula, a clinical entity akin to duodenal ulcer diseases. The juice of fresh root of A. racemosus has been shown to have definite curative effect in patients who have duodenal ulcers[3].

It has been suggested that Shatavari may heal ulcers by potentiating defensive factors. Plausible mechanisms for this may be that it may prolong the life span of mucosal cells, increase the secretion and viscosity of mucus, and strengthen the mucosal barrier and thus reduces H+ ion back diffusion into the mucosa. Shatavari may form a complex with mucus or other substances at the base of the ulcer which may protect the ulcer from the corrosive and proteolytic effects of acid-pepsin. It may have cytoprotective action like that of prostaglandins. It might also act to deactivate and bind pepsin or bile salts[4].

Diarrhoea has long been recognized as one of the most important health problems faced globally particularly by the population of developing countries. Each year millions of deaths are reported globally due to this sickness. Many studies have reported that ethanol and aqueous extracts of Shatavari roots exhibited significant anti-diarrhoeal activity against castor oil induced diarrhoea, referenced in Ayurvedic texts such as Sushruta Samhita and Sharangdhar Samhita[5].

Additional beneficial properties of Shatavari

This mother healer herb also possesses anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antidiabetic, antioxidant[6] potential. It has also been reported for its antidepressant, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective[7] and insulin secretory potential[8].

[1]. Gupta M, Shaw B. A Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial for Evaluation of Galactogogue Activity of Asparagus racemosus Willd. Iran J Pharm Res. 2011;10(1):167-172.

[2] . Dalvi SS, Nadkarni PM, Gupta KC. Effect of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) on gastric emptying time in normal healthy volunteers. J Postgrad Med 1990; 36:91-4.

[3]. Kishore P, Pandey PN, Pandey SN, Dash S. Treatment of duodenal ulcer with Asparagus racemosus Linn. J Res Indian Med Yog Homeo 1980; 15:409-15

[4]. Singh KP, Singh RH. Clinical trial on Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus Willd.) in duodenal ulcer disease. J Res Ay Sid 1986; 7:91-100

[5]. N. Venkatesan, V. Thiyagarajan, S. Narayanan, A. Arul, S. Raja and S.G. Kumar, T. Rajarajan, J.B. Perianayagam. Anti-diarrhoeal potential of Asparagus racemosus wild root extracts in laboratory animals. J Pharm Pharm Sci 2005; 25;8(1): 39-46.

[6]. Acharya SR, Acharya NS, Bhangale JO, Shah SK, Pandya SS. Antioxidant and hepatoprotective action of Asparagus racemosus Willd. root extracts. Indian J Exp Biol. 2012;50(11):795-801.

[7]. Kalaivani Selvaraj, Girija Sivakumar, Vishnu Priya Veeraraghavan4, Vijaya S Dandannavar, Geetha Royapuram Veeraraghavan, Gayathri Rengasamy. Asparagus Racemosus- A Review. Sys Rev Pharm. 2019;10(1):87-89.

[8]. J M A Hannan, Lamin Marenah, Liaquat Ali, Begum Rokeya , Peter R Flatt and Yasser H Abdel-Wahab. Insulin secretory actions of extracts of Asparagus racemosus root in perfused pancreas, isolated islets and clonal pancreatic b-cells. Journal of Endocrinology. 2007; 192, 159–168.

Introducing Dr. Bhagyashree Kamble

Bhagyashree was born, grew up, and studied in the ancient city of Pune, India, – a ‘city of culture and history.’  She was the eldest child in a middle-class family. Bhagyashree explains that Pune is often compared to Harvard in the USA in terms of its education and culture. She describes how students who have studied in Pune invariably want to return and settle there.

Her father always inculcated how important education is for her growth and development. Her grandmother was a maths teacher, and her mother was her first teacher, teaching her English using the phonics system. She then attended Huzurpaga High School for Girls, a 200-year-old school whose name means ‘where royalty keep their horses.’ It was the first Indian-run school to offer education to girls to the level of matriculation. She studied in her mother-tongue, Marathi.

As a child Bhagyashree always wanted to be a medical doctor, contributing towards the health of humankind and those in need in her own country. However, her life took a different path, she is not a medical doctor, but she does work that helps humanity.

Following graduating with her bachelor’s degree, in pharmaceutical science, Bhagyashree was awarded a post-graduate diploma in alternative medicine. She was offered a post in a Multi-National Company in Mumbai, a job she didn’t take as she didn’t feel it helped her on the right path. Instead, she stayed at her family home and for a year prepared for her entrance exam for a master’s programme in the field of Pharmacognosy. During her master’s programme she worked with a gynaecologist who used herbalism within her practice.

Following her master’s degree Bhagyashree started to work as a lecturer for undergraduate students in the university of Pune, but after 18 months she realised that this too was not increasing her knowledge and the greater picture she was seeking.

Bhagyashree began to apply for doctoral positions, and she had an opportunity to work with someone she describes as “a very wonderful person” who was a mentor for her doctoral research. Bhagyashree was this mentor’s first student, and he gave her the liberty of thinking, designing, and executing her research ideas. Her PhD. looked at the development, standardisation, and quality control of the herb-drug interaction of Gymnema Sylvestre.

Joining the doctoral programme was Bhagyashree’s dream, though the first two years were very hard due to a lack of funding. However, eventually she secured fellowship funding from the Government of India University Grant Commission. Meanwhile she was involved in mentoring and teaching graduate and post- graduate students from various states of India and from other countries such as Sudan, Iran, Nepal, Malaysia, and African countries.

Post Ph D. Bhagyashree worked as an Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (India) an institute which is highly regarded and affiliated with the Indian Government.

She has worked for several years in herbal research and has been successful in presenting her research work at various national and international platforms.

Bhagyashree married and has two daughters. She left her job as Assistant Professor in 2017 and came to the UK, where she now works as Senior Researcher with Apiceutical Research Ltd.

Propolis: The answer to antibiotic resistance?

From a press release we published on 23rd November 2021

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have recently published data which shows a reduction in antibiotic-resistant bloodstream infections. But they warn that this drop is likely to be temporary, the result of reduced social mixing and enhanced hand hygiene due to the COVID pandemic. A company in Yorkshire think they’ve identified a solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance. Research conducted in conjunction with Leeds Beckett University demonstrates that propolis, a natural substance produced by honey bees, has been shown to increase the susceptibility of resistant bacteria to drugs which have become ineffective.

Antibiotic Resistance has been named as one of the biggest threats to human health by WHO

UKHSA have suggested that as we head to winter, cold symptoms will be on the increase and may be more prevalent than in recent years. Antibiotics should not be used to treat these symptoms. Overuse or misuse of these antibiotics leads to accelerated antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond to treatment. This can lead to very serious complications and hospitalisation. For the last several years the trend in antibiotic resistance has been consistently upward. This is because taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria to become resistant. Consequently, it has been reported as one of the most severe threats to public health by the World Health Organization.

What can be done to boost immunity and prevent antibiotic resistance? Nature’s Laboratory, based in Whitby, think the answer is to be found in propolis. Propolis is a sticky substance created by honey bees from tree and plant resins combined with wax. The bees use it to keep the hive free from infection – it’s a kind of external immune system. Propolis has been used as a medicine by humans for thousands of years. Its antimicrobial activity against different bacteria, yeasts, viruses, and parasites is well documented and interest around its healing properties is growing around the globe.

Nature’s Laboratory have been at the forefront of research into propolis for the last 30 years. Now, in conjunction with Leeds Beckett University, they have been able to demonstrate that using propolis in conjunction with antibiotics is able to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance. The evidence suggests that taking propolis and antibiotics together significantly increases the susceptibility of resistant bacteria to antibiotics which have become ineffective.

James Fearnley, CEO of Nature’s Laboratory and propolis expert, said:

“This research is tremendously exciting. We’re hopeful that very soon we’ll have irrefutable evidence which demonstrates the power of propolis to heal, both in conjunction with pharmaceutical drugs as a stand-alone remedy. Propolis has remarkable immune-boosting, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties – I’m delighted that we now have the evidence to show this.”

James Fearnley, CEO of Nature’s Laboratory

Companies like Nature’s Laboratory are working on innovative solutions to complex healthcare issues. As the wintry weather arrives, it’s vital that consumers make informed decisions about their own healthcare. Taking antibiotics can lead to resistant bacteria, resulting in dangerous complications. Propolis is a natural medicine which supports the body’s natural immune system, strengthening your ability to fight bacterial and viral infection.

For more information about propolis, please visit

James Fearnley, the founder and CEO of Natures Laboratory Ltd has been researching the use of medicinal use of propolis for over 30 years. He has contributed to 30+ peer review research articles about propolis and has written two books:

He founded the Apiceutical Research Centre 11 years ago which stimulated the first international conferences on Propolis in Human and Bee Health at University of Strathclyde in 2016.

He founded the International Propolis Research Group in 2016 now at 150 strong community of academics researching propolis worldwide. In May this year the IPRG hosted an international conference “Propolis: Medicine for our Time?” which attracted over 400 attendees listening to 38 presentations about the multiple use of propolis including clinical research into the use of propolis in treating COVID and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. Fearnley has conducted research showing that propolis is effective against MRSA.

Four Ways We’re Helping People Access Herbal Medicine

At Herbal Apothecary we are committed to the future of herbal medicine. We’ve recently announced four new projects which are all designed to improve access to herbal medicine. Here’s a brief overview with links to our website so you can find out more.

1. Herbal Access

We’re covering the cost of herbal prescriptions for those who need financial assistance.

Our Herbal Access programme is designed to help more people access herbal medicine by covering the cost of prescriptions. We know that the cost of herbal medicines can sometimes be prohibitive. This scheme allows practitioners to dispense herbal medicines to patients free of charge, and then claim back £8 in the form of a discount voucher code for our website.

Find out more

2. Get 10% Off For a Whole Year After Graduation

We want to help graduates get their practices established.

Have you recently graduated as a fully qualified medical herbalist? We want to give you 10% off every single online order for a whole year! Send us proof of your qualification and we’ll give you a year-long discount code to help you get your herbal practice off the ground.

3. Advertise For Free on our Website!

Benefit from increased exposure by advertising your business for free with us.

We’ve just created a brand-new practitioner directory as part of our website. With our growing social media reach we’re receiving an increasing number of enquiries about specific remedies, or from people looking to speak to a herbalist. We want to be able to point these people towards fully qualified herbal practitioners. If you are a practicing herbalist you can advertise for free on our website.

Click here to view the directory and follow the links to add your own listing.

4. Website and Graphic Design Services

We can help with your website development and marketing.

Our team was joined by Jack Barber and Caleb Wilson in the spring. Since then they’ve been hard at work getting our own websites, internal IT systems and social media into shape. As part of our commitment to the future of herbal medicine we want to help practitioners with their own online marketing activities. If you need help with your website, graphic design or support getting your social media up and running we can help.

A charge will be made for this service to cover our time.

Tiny Shoot

There’s Always More To Do…

These four projects demonstrate our commitment to the future of herbal medicine. But there’s always more we can do. That’s why we are constantly looking for ways to improve the products and services we offer, as well as ensuring we operate in a way which is both socially and environmentally responsible way. Click the links below to find out more:

Herb Mark – The Good Herbal Manufacture and Supply Standard

The objective of the Herb Mark accreditation is to provide customers, that manufacturers and distributors who are accredited are working to best practice thus delivering a quality and safe product. The Good Herbal Manufacturing and Supply Standard is a combination of conventional GMP for pharmaceuticals and Food Safety Standard.

The standard was developed by a combination of 40 years GMP and Food Safety Standards experience supplemented by site visits to herbal product manufacturing companies to gain an understanding of their processes.

The result is an easy to follow and useful assessment tool to enable organisations to carry out a gap analysis which will then drive a continuous improvement program establishing best practice. Organisations will be audited against this standard on a regular basis, typically every two years.

The key elements are as follows:

  1. Quality Management System: A defined and workable system, commensurate with the complexity of the business. This is supported by a quality policy endorsed by the senior management. This will include risk assessment and HACCP.
  2. Personnel: Adequately resourced. All staff to be suitably qualified, trained with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
  3. Premises and Equipment: Premises and equipment must be located, designed, constructed, adapted and maintained to suit the operations to be carried out.
  4. Documentation: All documents need to be controlled and reviewed. Designed to be easily understood, providing clear and unambiguous information.
  5. Production: All processes to be clearly defined with supporting procedure sand work instructions.
  6. Quality: Ensuring all materials, intermediates, and finished products meet their specification with regards to safety and quality
  7. Out-Sourced Activities: Managing suppliers and contractors, with documented agreements defining responsibilities and deliverables.
  8. Complaints and Recalls: Formalised process for dealing with customer complaints and non- conformances.
  9. Self- Inspection: Self-evaluation and monitoring through internal audits

By following these guidelines and principles, incorporating risk management, and planned change control, the result will be right first time, delivering to the customer a safe and quality product.

The Herbal Apothecary Team

Here at Herbal Apothecary, behind the scenes, we have an amazing team manufacturing, researching, developing products, and more.

In operations we have Hugo Fearnley, Sales Director, who has been with the company for a great number of years. Hugo has extensive knowledge of our products and works with existing and new customers to deliver great service and develop professional relationships so we can meet each client’s individual needs. Hugo has been a familiar, friendly and trustworthy face over the years to our customers who we’ve had the pleasure to do business with.

Jon Wells is operations manager, and oversees the day-to-day running of the factory, from purchasing to production planning, Jon has been with us for a number of years and has been a huge asset to our company’s operation.

Tom Cull recently joined us in 2021, Tom is our production and dispatch manager, Tom has a degree in civil engineering and is undergoing extensive production training and learning more about the business. Tom has already proved himself to be a valuable member of our team and continues to impress us.

Tom Cull

In our research and design department, we have Shankar Katekhaye. Shankar has been working with us for a number of years, he’s a highly qualified chemist with much experience and oversees quality control, research and the development of the product formulations. Shankar can help develop new products for clients, finding a formulation which works for everyone. Shankar works across not only Herbal Apothecary, but BeeVital and Sweet Cecily’s too, really utilising his skillset in driving forwards research and product development.

Our production team includes Sean Lennon, Andrew Burgess and Chris Buckley. The production team is responsible for producing our herbal fluid extracts and tinctures, alongside labelling and bottling products, they work hard to ensure we have enough of our products to supply to all of our new and existing clients! The production team is vital to our operations in Whitby, North Yorkshire. As is Richard Locker, who works in dispatch, and is one of the companies longest serving employees – Rich ensures all of our orders and processed and sent out on time.

If you’ve ever given us a call, you may have been greeted on the other end of the line by Angela Watts and Nikki Archer, both work in our sales office handling telephone enquiries, helping customers, answering their enquiries, processing orders and more.

Nikki Archer

If you’ve been on our website recently, you may have noticed our new herbal product calculator, developed in-house by director of online sales and company director Jack Barber. Jack has been working on innovative ways for us to move into future of herbal medicine. Our new product calculator allows customers to formulate their own tinctures, capsules and powder blends to their own specification. Jack has also been working on some of our production processes to make them more time and energy efficient by using artificial intelligence and computer systems. We’re always looking at ways to improve how we operate, hopefully creating a new and improved herbal future. Also working on our IT systems and websites is Caleb Wilson, maintaining our websites. He is a full-stack developer, tackling everything from front and back-end development to SEO and website performance.

Our CEO, James Fearnley, is also heavily involved in the running of the company. James works closely with our team to create new products, develop our research efforts and move the company forwards in a positive and innovative direction. You can find out more about James Fearnley here.

James Fearnley

Our board of directors is comprised of some of the names above, but also includes Anant Paradkar, professor of pharmaceutical engineering at the University of Bradford, who has extensive experience of medicines and has supervised 10 PhD and 45 MPharm candidates and published over 90 research papers. Currently, he is supervising/co-supervising 15 PhD students in various areas of research. Professor Paradkar works with Herbal Apothecary in developing new products, helping with funding opportunities, supporting our research efforts and more. Our board of directors is dedicated to the idea of creating a new herbal future, furthering research, supporting the herbal industry, creating innovative products and manufacturing processes and more.

With Herbal Apothecary operating from Nature’s Laboratory, we also work closely with our other brands, Sweet Cecily’s which produces natural skincare and BeeVital, our propolis brand, as a united front, this helps us come up with new innovations which can be implemented across the company, sharing expertise and creating healthy professional relationships. At the time of writing, we don’t have any job openings within the company, however do keep an eye on the ‘work with us’ section of our website where we’ll post any future job openings to the public.

Why Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine is the use of plants and plant extracts to treat disease or ailments. Many modern pharmaceuticals use compounds found in plants, although these days they are generally created synthetically. Modern drugs focus on utilizing only the perceived active ingredient in a plant, whereas herbal medicine uses the plant, or parts or the plant, as a whole. There are arguments that point to the mixture of chemicals in a plant as a whole work together to produce a more desirable effect than a single active ingredient.

Healing with plants predates records and is a practice not only used by humans but other animals which are naturally drawn to certain plants to help them maintain their health. The first recorded use of herbal medicine dates back approximately 5000 years ago. Evidence was found on a clay Sumerian slab from Nagpur. It comprised of 12 recipes for medicine preparation and references over 250 different plants. Traditional Indian herbal medicine is called Ayurvedic medicine. We stock a wide range of Ayurvedic herbs.

The Chinese book “Pen T’Sao”, which was written by Emperor Shen Nung approximately 2500 BC references over 365 dried parts of medicinal plants, many of which are still used to this day, including Rhei rhisoma, camphor, Theae folium, Podophyllum and more such as jimson weed, ginsend, cinnamon bark, and ephedra. At Herbal Apothecary we stock a range of Chinese herbs, herbal tinctures and fluid extracts. Throughout history there has been a notable use of herbal medicine across cultures and civilisations, with references in the Indian holy books and the Bible.

Ayurvedic Medicine

In the Middle Ages, cultivation and preparation of medicines had moved towards monasteries, where most therapies were based on 16 medicinal plants. The monks at such monasteries commonly grew sage, anise, mint, Greek seed, savory, tansy and more. Charles the Great (742-814 AD) founded a medical school in Salerno, made an order dictating which medicinal plants were to be grown on state-owned land. Around 100 plants were quoted to be grown, many of which are still used today such as sage, sea onion, mint, common centaury, poppy and more. Charles the Great was said to especially appreciate sage (Salvia officinalis L.), which was named so in Latin as it was referred to as a salvation plant (with salvare meaning “save, cure”). Even in modern times, sage is a mandatory plant in all Catholic monasteries.

Historically in the Arab world, numerous plants were used in herbal medicine, mostly from India where there were good trade relations. Many of the medicinal plants used by the Arabs then are still in use today, some of these include aloe, deadly nightshade, henbane, coffee, ginger, saffron, pepper, cinnamon and senna. European physicians in the Middle Ages often consulted Arab works such as “De Re Medica” (John Mesue, 850 AD), “Canon Medicinae” (Avicenna, 980-1037 AD) and “Liber Magnae Collectionis Simplicum Alimentorum Et Medicamentorum” (Ibn Baitar 1197-1248 AD), where over 1000 medicinal plants were described.

In the 18th century, Linnaeus (1707-1788 AD) decided to create the work “Species Plantarium” (1753 AD) to provide short descriptions and classifications of species which had previously been described. Plants were described and named without taking into consideration previous descriptions and names. Most plant names up to this point used a polynominal system, where the first word denoted the genus, whilst the latter polynominal phrase described other features of the plant. Linnaeus changed the naming system into a binominal one. The name of each species consisted of the genus name, with an initial capital letter, and the species name, with an initial small letter.

Herbal Medicine Research

In the early 19th century there was a scientific breakthrough concerning the discovery, substantiation and isolation of alkaloids from the poppy, quinine, pomegranate and other plants. With the improvements made to chemical methods, other active substances were discovered such as tannins, vitamins, hormones and more. This showed the different chemical make-up of different plants and how this would have an effect on their uses. In the late 19th century and early 20th century there was a looming danger that medicinal plants may be eliminated from therapy. Some authors wrote of perceived shortcomings of drugs obtained from plants, due to enzymes and their destructive action during the drying of medicinal plants, noting that healing action may depend on the mode of drying.At the turn of the 21st century, 11% of the World Health Organisation’s list of 252 drugs considered ‘basic and essential’ were exclusively of flowering plant origin, which shows the use of herbal medicine has most definitely not been lost, and is still relevant to this day. Herbal medicine comes from natures own laboratory, naturally occurring solutions to our health. The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the world’s population, or about 4 billion people, currently use herbal medicine for some of their health care. Thirty percent of the US population uses herbal remedies each year. In the past 10 years, the use of herbal supplements has grown over 380%.

Herbal medicine can be useful on its own to support our immune systems and to help with ailments. However, our immune systems are three dimensional, meaning their function relies not only on the physical health and the things we consume, but also our social and cultural health. Where we lack in one dimension there is a profound impact on the system as a whole. Herbal medicine can be used alongside other forms of treatment to support and maintain a healthy immune system. The ‘medicine’ so to speak, is more than just a consumable, and until relatively recently this was a widespread and understood idea – our health, immune system, mood etc. are a reflection of our physical, social and cultural wellbeing. In more recent years, the idea that our social and cultural wellbeing can affect our physical health has been somewhat brushed under the rug. This has resulted in the root causes of problems which individuals experience (such as social isolation) not being addressed and instead they are given treatment which widely involves being prescribed a synthetic drug.

There are several problems with this approach of which the consequences can been quite clearly today. Bacteria has evolved to become resistant to our modern antibiotics, which humans have become increasingly dependant on. The European Commission estimates that adverse reactions from prescription drugs cause 200,000 deaths each year in Europe; together with around 128,000 deaths each year in the US. Consequently around 328,000 patients in the U.S. and Europe together die from prescription drugs each year. Another problem is the efficacy of prescription drugs is much lower than would like to be admitted, Dr Allen Roses (Ex Vice-President of GSK) has said “The vast majority of drugs – more than 90% – only work in 30-50% of the people”.

Herbal medicine has been utilised since humans existed, we know instinctively what our bodies need and what we should avoid. As observations have been made over the years it has become apparent which plants are best at treating certain ailments, which ones support our general health and which plants should be avoided. We have known for millennia the importance of social and cultural interactions too. Together these things all contribute to our health as a whole, but without one the others are weakened. It’s no surprise that the herbal medicine market is beginning to boom again, which significant growth projected over the coming years. Perhaps the COVID-19 situation has opened people up to prophylactic treatment using natural remedies to boost their immune system, or perhaps the wider public are again being drawn back towards what is, and always was natures solution to our physical health.

Herbal Apothecary – Based in Whitby, North Yorkshire

Enjoy our video about Whitby

Whitby is famous for many things. From the historic Abbey, to the seafaring legacy of Captain James Cook, to being inspiration for Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ to being regularly voted the UK’s top seaside destination. Whitby has a lot going for it!

Whitby is also home to Nature’s Laboratory, the parent company of Herbal Apothecary. Established in the town over 20 years ago by CEO, James Fearnley, Nature’s Laboratory is a thriving manufacturing business.

We wanted to share some of the highlights of living and working in this beautiful part of the country. We produced the above video, using wonderful aerial footage taken by a local aerial photography company, Njord Sky Drones.

Surrounded by such beatiful scenery, in such a popular part of the country, we’re constantly reminded what a privilege it is to live in Whitby and the local area. Some of our team live in Whitby itself, while others live in local villages including Goathland and Danby.

The North York Moors National Park surrounds Whitby on three sides – with the fourth side being exposed to the North Sea. Whitby truly is surrounded by some of the most amazing coastal scenery, home to wonderful wildlife including dolphins, whales and many kinds of sea birds.

Even the industrial estate which is home to our factory where we produce our herbal tinctures, bee medicines and natural skincare products is surrounded by green fields, trees and farmland.

We’re biased, of course, but we think Whitby is the best place to live and work!

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