Key criteria for ensuring quality and reliability of suppliers:
Finlandia has sourced herbal suppliers and growers that have decades of experience and that demonstrate the highest standards; most going above and beyond the usual criteria. Finlandia also has many years of experience with these companies and trust their products and practices. These suppliers produce raw materials to the exacting standards required by Finlandia and produce some materials exclusively for Finlandia.
Criteria that Finlandia requires from herbal suppliers:
- Demonstration of long-standing expertise in the field
- Owned/operated by herbalists
- GACP (Good Agricultural and Collection Practices) certification
- GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certification
- cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices) certification – where appropriate
- Bio-dynamic and/or Organic certification whenever possible
- Products are not tested on animals, are vegan and free of parabens and palm oil
- Free of pesticides, hormone disruptors and poisons
- Membership in professional associations such as EUROPAM (European Herb Growers Association – an evidence based body of academic growers and producers)
- Authorization from the MHRA (Medicine and Health Care Regulatory Authority) – where appropriate
Finlandia also looks for the following:
- Long standing Soil Association accreditation
- Carbon positive footprint. A carbon positive footprint is a step beyond a carbon neutral footprint. Some of our growers ensure the planting of broad leaf tress and hedgerow shrubs to clean the air and “sink” more carbon than the business produces each year. Also involved in this positive footprint is using cow manure mixed with the herb marc (herb material left over from liquid extract production) as fertilizer which intensifies the amount of nutrients returned to the soil.
- Biodiversity practices. Also contributing to a carbon positive footprint would be the inclusion of a biodiversity preserve in the growing area supporting not only plants but animals, amphibians, minerals and microbiological systems.
- A positive cultural effect on socio-economic environments. This means that the farm or growing acreage is integrated into the local rural economy in a beneficial way.
- On-going professional development
Quality Control Requirements:
- Audited by the government, independent external bodies and international companies
- Certificates of Analysis available for all materials
- Complete trace-ability of materials
- Materials having been assessed internally or by third party independently, using all or some of the following methods: HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography), GC (Gas Chromatography), MA (Microbiological Assay), TLC (Thin Layer Chromatography)
Finlandia also looks for expertise in some specialty areas. For example:
- Cold percolation manufacture. All herbal extracts must be produced by cold percolation. Percolation is a method of extraction whereby a concentration gradient between the solvent (ethanol, water and/or vinegar) and the solute (plant material) is in continuous motion. This type of concentration gradient gives greater extraction than other methods such as maceration where the plant material is soaked in the extracting solvent for a period of time.
- Fresh extracts. Some herbs are more efficacious when produced as a fresh plant extract. This process keeps the lipoprotein surfactants intact and ensures xenobiotic delivery systems (a part of the plants’ evolution over millions of years).
- Strength of extracts. Finlandia requires the majority of our extracts to be of professional strength. This means the extracts are 3 – 5 times stronger than the usual tinctures on the market.
- Bio-dynamic practices and Demeter certification. Bio-dynamic farming arose from Rudolf Steiner’s series of lectures in 1924 on fundamental sustainability. It is regarded as a forerunner of organic practices and is considered the next evolution of organic sustainability. Herbs are grown in the natural bio-dynamic rhythm of life. Plants are given space and time to grow optimally. Rigorous crop rotation is applied resulting in optimum plant and soil health and diversity. Natural weed control is used as well as natural soil methods to ensure soil health into the future. Central to bio-dynamic methodology are metaphysical and spiritual beliefs, a holistic view of plants, and the influences and rhythms of the cosmos. Rather than maximizing volume production the aim is to enhance and support nature’s health. This creates and supports a self-sustaining system.
- The PA issue. Finlandia looks for their suppliers to be informed about current issues such PA’s (pyrrolizidine alkaloids – basic organic substances in some plants). There is growing evidence that PA’s are toxic to the human liver in high doses and therefore herbalists have traditionally used these plants only when necessary and in low doses for a short period of time. However German research has shown that PA’s are taken up by the roots of other (non PA) plants from surrounding PA weeds in a process called horizontal transmission. Finlandia supports their growers to be proactive and remove all PA bearing weeds such as ragwort and groundsel from their cultivations and field margins.
- Finlandia looks for the proper practices of manufacture of herbal material and will choose adherence to these practices over an “organic” product when necessary. What this means is that even if a plant extract is certified organic, if it has not been cultivated and processed properly, its medicinal value would be compromised and is therefore not desirable. An extract without organic certification but one that demonstrates high therapeutic action and the correct energetic field, would be more ideal. Of course, extracts demonstrating all positive conditions of growth, manufacture and certification are optimal and these products make up the vast majority of Finlandia’s herbal inventory.
Herbal Dispensary Manager