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An Herbalist's Take On The Future Of Plant-Based Health

Image by Helen Rushbrook / Stocksy
October 26, 2021

In a wellness industry landscape that includes dietary supplements, fitness, nutrition, self-care, and mindfulness, herbalism is a thread that connects it all. Herbalism is a lifestyle—the simple practice of using plants for better health. I (admittedly biasedly!) believe it's the future. But herbalism, a traditional medicine, is also the present reality for most of the world and always has been.

Approximately 80% of the world's population1 already uses herbalism as a primary form of health care. Thousands of medicinal herbs are in use today, and we discover thousands more every year. Many of our best-known pharmaceutical medications are originally derived from plants.

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As new generations prioritize their well-being, brands and businesses are clamoring to be a part of the herbalism space, too. Companies are now investing a significant sum of capital into the research, development, and innovation of plant-based and natural foods, beverages, and supplements. 

This is an exciting shift to watch as both a business and a consumer in the space. But as herbalism products go more mainstream, it's essential that they are always paired with trust, transparency, and true expertise.

Why building trust is essential.

I believe that the herbalism category is due for a makeover in a few key areas. For starters, while we herb nerds love the dirt, approachable websites with less jargon are needed to help new folks feel welcome and supported. 

There's also the challenge of working amid internet disinformation—masses of unregulated fake facts that cause confusion, worsened by new products and a ton of marketing that often proliferates incorrect ideas about herbs. (Like that they're dangerous, can't be mixed, or that turmeric is an adaptogen, say.) 

My go-to example of the perplexing-ish moment we're in is the adaptogens trend. Demand for them is exploding, the term is in nearly every grocery store aisle by now, yet nearly no one knows what an adaptogen is. 

(In case you're curious: Adaptogens are a small category of a couple of dozen plants and mushrooms that are, by definition, normalizing, nontoxic, and nonspecific. They work through the HPA-axis in the brain to help our body maintain homeostasis when we subject it to abnormal amounts of physical, psychological, or environmental stress. They don't "reduce stress" as I've seen on too many beverage labels to count. And, actually, for chill, I much prefer the category of herbs called nervines. A subject for another day!)

As it stands now, experts can be impossible to identify in the herbalism space, and consumers are hungry for trustworthy guidance. That's where I hope my companies, Supernatural and HRBLS, can come in.

Empowering education is the way forward.

Supernatural has a reputation for leading with simple guidance, product recommendations, myth-busting, and trend watching—and an unwavering commitment to communicating with integrity. I can't count the number of times I've been thanked for supplying honest information, for taking down a silly trend, for including scientific studies, or for speaking frankly about the reality of a product, service, herb, or otherwise. 

From day one, Supernatural has been about delivering empowering herbalism and health education. We're translating the science and magic of herbalism for modern lives. That looks like helping people relearn how to communicate with their bodies, manage their time in healthy ways, and of course, find the right herbs, supplements, and nutrition plans for their needs. 

As long as I've worked in this space, I've heard the same health complaints over and over again: Stress and anxiety; gut health and digestive issues; hormone balance (including fertility); energy and mood imbalances; sleep; weight and metabolism. After thousands of hours in private practice and thousands of more hours teaching, speaking, and educating, I formulated on-demand herbalism education and online classes about these major topics driving health imbalances in so many people who feel off.

From Supernatural Gut Health to a four-week course covering plant-based nutrition, herbalism 101, and more, these classes were built to address all of the most common questions I've received from around the world over the years. Herbalism Essentials is a great place to start. Our classes on Hormone Balance, Thyroid Health, and Brain Health are very deep dives. In the coming months, we're also adding focuses on metabolism; fertility; inflammation and pain; and hair, skin, and nails.

Supported by the ecosystem that is Supernatural in its entirety (including our line of herbal gummies, HRBLS, online shop, and my ongoing speaking and teaching), I hope that anyone seeking better health via plants can achieve that with us. 

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The bottom line.

While there are great shortcomings in the herbalism market as it stands today (or let's call them opportunities!), the science, the context, and the demand are there. It feels imperative for the future of herbalism to lean into credibility in order to avoid becoming dismissible. When wellness is about our health, it's not a trend; it's a lifeline.

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Rachelle Robinett, RH
Rachelle Robinett, RH

Rachelle Robinett, RH (AHG)—Herbalist, Educator, and life-long naturalist—is the founder and sole, self-funded owner of Pharmakon Supernatural—a New York-based, globally-spirited company dedicated to modern herbalism education.

In leading Supernatural, Rachelle combines holistic herbalism experience with today’s health science and an understanding of both individual behavior modification and wellness industry zeitgeists to create life-changing health for thousands of people every day.

Rachelle has been studying the relationship between plants and people her entire life, around the world. In addition to directing the operations of Supernatural, Rachelle writes, consults, and offers professional consulting for companies in the wellness and food industries. The Supernatural ecosystem includes Supernatural cafe & shop, a product line of herbal gummies (HRBLS), and on-demand online classes that bring the history and global nature of herbalism into the daily lives of modern humans.