Sebastian Pole, CEO of Pukka Herbs, a traditional tea company, comes down hard on the latter position. While he lauds the attention Ayurveda is getting, he said that much of the effects shown over thousands of years of the medical tradition were based on whole herbs used in traditional combinations. Something is lost, he believes, when a Western-style reductionist model is applied to these plants. Most of these are presented in their whole form or in extracts, such as teas, made from whole plant parts. Focusing on one compound might all well and good form a standardization and patenting standpoint, but could be missing the spirit of the system, he believes.
“When get a plant and we take out one isolated component out and sell it as one that component, that misses the whole plant. Turmeric is a good example. There are 230 compounds in the plant. People are stripping the curcumin out of it and forgetting about the other 229. Ayurvedic medicine is a holistic system that is wants to use the power of plants in their whole form and the best way to get that is in a whole plant powder or a simple tea or extract,” Pole told NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA.
Pole did say that both approaches are likely to continue to flourish and the ingredients that are becoming popular, such as ashwagandha, bacopa, tulsi and, of course, curcuminoids from turmeric, even when presented in an isolated form will help drive people more toward natural products to support health and away from reliance on drugs.
“And it’s probably a good thing to get away from that,” he said.