15 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SOURCING YOUR NATURAL PRODUCTS

Natural products, herbs, essential oils, supplements, lotions, etc is by definition the wild wild west. It’s an arena where there are few restrictions, rules or oversight – and to some extent, I’m happy for that – it allows for innovation and access to what you need.

The FDA approval process is slow, cumbersome, expensive and often times against anything natural, so I’m NOT advocating for the FDA to become involved, however what that means is that you have to be your own advocate, you have to be the one asking the questions. (p.s. this goes for pharmaceuticals too).

We have been taught to trust advertising, and media. We have been taught not to question, however we are Americans after all, we have rebellion in our heritage, we need to bring back that questioning attitude.

Sourcing products is a huge part of what I do on behalf of my clients. I take this activity VERY seriously  I spent 20 years in corporate America doing just that for some of the best companies in the world – choosing suppliers. Identifying raw material sourcing, product specifications, quality systems, checks and balances, and cost in order to provide what I believe to be the best product for the end consumer. I have taken that training and mindset and applied it to my work as a Naturopath and health coach. It’s not light duty for me!!

I won’t mess around with recommending or suggesting products I don’t have complete faith in, so often times people hear me suggest something different than what they are taking. This is a well thought out answer!! I am always looking, checking, verifying that the products I’m working with are the best that I am aware of today. I utilize my thousands of hours of training in natural medicine as a filter through which to run products.

I want you to know some of the questions I ask so you can begin to ask that of the products and companies you choose for your family. If you don’t get the answer at first, keep asking and keep looking.

Questions to ask:

  1. Where do raw materials come from? Do they grow their own farms? Do they grow in the country best suited for growing that herb? Do they tightly control sourcing?
  2. Is the company investing in and growing with new products and who on their staff does that?
  3. Do they have lab testing both internally and external 3rd party?
  4. Do they understand the impact of climate, weather on harvest and pick at peak of harvest?
  5. Do they process herbs right near harvest to maximize potency?
  6. What are the ingredients (don’t always assume the label is complete)
  7. Are the products pure and clean without fillers, chemicals and additives?
  8. Where do they process/package?   I avoid Chinese goods for example, and go for US based manufacturing.
  9. What is done with product that does not pass testing?
  10. Could I visit their facilities?
  11. How old is the company?   Are they financially stable
  12. Does the product line meet multiple needs for many people: physical, emotional, spiritual
  13. Is this a Christian company – very important but not necessarily a deal breaker.
  14. Does the company value and partner with professionals?
  15. Does the company offer education and training? Is that education a priority?

NOTE: #6 is a hard one – it took me a lot of digging to determine the “unlabeled” ingredients in some products I was using. Recently a probe in NY found large drugstore chains had products that were labeled herbs and actually contained grass.

I found out about an essential oil company that I was using that added synthetic fragrances, vanilla bean extract, ethyl vanillin, and in some cases did not contain the biomarkers of the product it was labeled to be.

If a company refuses to answer these questions, or does not know, I am automatically skeptical.

I also don’t automatically trust what the sales rep or the website tells me, I go and read testimonials, search for studies, lab results, or anything I can to verify the product.

This sounds like a lot of effort, but anyone can say anything to try to convince you. Sometimes they don’t know the answer to the questions themselves. In the end, if you are putting it in or on your body or on your kids, you need to know!

 

Happy hunting!