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NHPD and Clef des Champs PDF Print E-mail

dpsn4We have promoted and defended traditional Western herbalism for nearly 10 years now, since we first heard rumblings about Health Canada’s plans for natural health products. With the coming into effect of the new regulations in 2004, we had to multiply our efforts, not only for the company’s continued existence, but also to protect ancestral herbalism practices. Over time, in the meetings and discussions with the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD), our herbalists learned a new language, the language of regulatory affairs, in order to assert and have the merit of our  traditional practices recognized without casting aside the immense wisdom and extensive knowledge that has been amassed on the medicinal benefits of plants.

Large battles have already been won: Health Canada’s recognition of the traditional Western herbalism paradigm, the establishment of good manufacturing practices that take into consideration the very unique context of herbalism businesses (that work with living and fresh herbs), recognition of organic certification as a quality criteria and approval of the Francophone North American nomenclature of medicinal herbs. For many years, Clef des Champs has collaborated, discussed with and proven its expertise to government agencies.

Some battles still need to be waged and a risk remains that we and all consumers of living, organic herbs will lose access to quality products. In fact, the current sterilization trend and fear of germs (linked to the listeriosis scandals, for example) have led the NHPD to demand sometimes excessive quality standards that require us to be very creative in order to avoid having to adopt processes that denature the quality of the herbs. Standard processing of herbs and spices involves irradiation and sterilization with ethylene oxide, both practices of which are prohibited in organic agriculture (thankfully!).

In the same vein, the movement to standardize extracts by favouring only some chemical molecules is very foreign to traditional practice, in which an herb’s active principles are far more interesting that the sum of its different components. This has forced Clef des Champs to spend endless hours conducting bibliographic research on the traditional usage of the herbs. Although many of the herb usages are known and abundantly indexed, the terms and vocabulary do not meet the modern criteria, doses and concentrations are not always indicated and part of the knowledge stems from experience or was passed down orally. We thus have to go to great and unique lengths to continue offering products in the standards, concentrations and doses that we know to be effective (thanks to 30 years of experience).

Although we are managing to meet these standards without compromising the quality of our herbs, thanks in lardpsn1ge part to the team’s ingenuity, perseverance and commitment, we must cope with a tightening of the regulations’ enforcement. We fear for the accessibility of medicinal herbs and the range of products that will be available on the market. The pharmacopeia could be diminished.

Our passion for medicinal herbs and your loyal support have given us the strength we needed to overcome all of these challenges. We will continue to defend the fair and organic production of all of the herbs that we hold so dear. However, these many years of fighting are weighing heavy on us, which is why, long-time allies and partners, we are requesting your support and understanding in this process. Please be patient when we have to delay selling certain products, modify certain labels, remove some of our literature or take certain products off the shelves. Rest assured that we are still as dedicated (if not more so!) to making natural health products that are of exceptional quality, alive and vibrant!

Your regulatory team, fighting on the frontlines for traditional herbalism,

Marie Jutras, herbalist
Laurence Lebrun, pharmacist
Marie Provost, herbalist