A. To the best of our knowledge Banyan Botanicals bulk herbs and tablets are free of gluten, soy and dairy. The machines used to powder the herbs are only used to powder herbs and spices. However, we work with dozens and dozens of small farms and it is likely that some of them would be growing nuts, barley, oats, and wheat. The machines are all certified according to NOP and EU organic regulations regarding clean downs, batch to batch documentation, etc.
A. Banyan Botanicals is committed to the humane treatment of animals and we do not test any of our products on animals.
A. At Banyan, we take multiple factors into account in making decisions, including quality, customer service, economics and our impact on the environment. The plastic that we use is PET (#1) and HDPE (#2), which is highly recyclable. Fewer resources (water, electricity, mining equipment, etc.) are used in the production of the plastic bottles versus glass; and given the lighter weight and durability of these plastics compared to glass, there is a smaller carbon footprint created by the shipping of these materials. PET and HDPE are BPA-free and considered safe as containers, though they should not be re-used. We use glass containers instead of plastic for any products that are filled hot (balms, ghee, chyavanprash).
A. The suggested serving size for our bulk herbs is a ¼ to ½ teaspoon of powder, once or twice daily. Depending on how much you take and how often you take it there are approximately 96 to 368 servings in a 1 lb bag of powder and 48 to 192 servings in a ½ lb bag of powder.
A. We recommend that our customers store their herbs in air-tight packaging, out of direct sunlight, and at room temperature or in the refrigerator. When stored properly herbs can last for many years.
A. No, the ghee and chyavanprash do not need to be refrigerated. Even after opening, they may be kept in a cupboard or anywhere that is out of direct sunlight.
A. Organic farming gives priority both to the health of the environment and the health of the person who will consume the goods that are grown…you! Not only does it avoid the use of potentially harmful synthetic chemicals such as growth hormones and pesticides, but it also promotes the use of methods and practices which yield healthy and robust crops.
In the U.S., for a product to be “certified” organic means a third-party agency must inspect and verify that the company is upholding the standards set by the USDA. The USDA website explains that organic certification means “the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.”
Banyan makes every effort to obtain herbs that are organically grown and certified. Our partners work with the farmers to continuously educate them on organic farming methods, and our herbs are sourced from USDA certified organic farms.
There are times when certification is cost-prohibitive. For example, we are investing in Kutki farms, as this is an endangered but very useful Ayurvedic herb. While the herb is still grown with organic methods, securing organic certification for this fledgling project is not yet feasible financially.
And finally, there are a few products used in Ayurvedic supplements that are not actually “grown”. For example, Shilajit is a mineral pitch that oozes out of the rocks in the Himalayas. Products such as this can never be certified organic, as there is no growing to be done.
A. We strive to balance the growing demand for Ayurvedic herbs with Mother Earth’s ability to supply and produce these. In 2010, the Botanical Survey of India (using criteria established by the International Union for Conservation of Nature) found that 93% of Ayurvedic wild plants used in practice are threatened with extinction. With a commitment to supporting sustainable, ecologicallyfriendly methods of farming, harvesting and wildcraft collecting of herbs, we continue to invest in projects that will increase the supply of available herbs, rather than strip our precious natural resources. All herbal companies have a choice when gathering herbs: they can be harvested on private farms where sustainability can be managed, or they may be wild-harvested from the forest legally, or sometimes they are taken illegally, threatening long-term sustainability. To verify sustainability, in most cases Banyan can trace our herbs back to the field where they were grown, rather than sourcing from the open market where sustainability cannot be verified.
Banyan also strongly believes in making sure the farmers are cared for as a part of the supply chain, as is the intention of fair trade principles. We know that, just as the energy and intention of a cook makes a difference in the nourishment provided by the meal, so the welfare of the farmers boosts the healing properties of your herbs. In sourcing the herbs, we ensure that the farmers are paid a fair and stable price, providing opportunities and income for them to improve their quality of life; assisting small farmers in achieving a stronger position in world markets; and supplying a healthy link between you and the products.
A. Just as you’ve heard of particular species of animals being endangered and on the verge of extinction, plants and herbs can also face similar endangerment. The CITES regulations help identify herbs which are being over-harvested and establish guidelines on how they may be used commercially.
As Ayurveda has gained increasing acknowledgment worldwide as an excellent option for health care and wellness, the demand for herbal products has grown exponentially. The natural supply is unable to keep up with this demand, and many popular herbs have become endangered. Some examples
include Kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Sandalwood (Sandalwood album), Red Sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus) and Tagar (Valeriana wallichii), all of which are in various stages of endangerment.
As a leader in the Ayurvedic community, Banyan Botanicals’ approach is two-fold:
- We have made an active choice to not carry herbs that have not been grown and harvested in a sustainable way, and are recognized as being endangered.
- We are investing in long-term projects to grow our own supply of these herbs, so we can provide them to you knowing that we have done so in a way that helps maintain the survival of the species.
Manufacturers do find ways to sell endangered products, even if the herb was not grown in a sustainable way. Banyan makes a conscious effort not to endorse this sort of trade, as it defeats the purpose of bringing awareness to endangered resources and finding long-lasting solutions. We keep records of exactly where our herbs were grown and harvested and can trace the origin and the methods used. We urge you to also support businesses that conduct their trade in an ethical and responsible manner.
A. Banyan’s final products are produced in the United States. We source the raw herbs from all over the world, largely from India and also from the U.S., but not limited to these two countries. Once the herbs arrive in our Albuquerque warehouse, they are quarantined and rigorously tested. Those that pass our quality standards are then put into inventory: they may be bagged for sale as powders, combined into one of our numerous formulas and pressed into tablets, or used for production of our luxurious oils. This is all done in the United States.
A. Yes, Banyan tests every batch of herbs for arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury using independent U.S. laboratories. All of our products, when taken according to the suggested use on the bottle, are within the safety guidelines stipulated by the American National Standards Institute/National Sanitation Foundation International Dietary Supplement Standard 173 (ANSI 173).
It is important to understand that heavy metals exist in our natural resources, including the soil, air and water. This is not limited to any particular region but is from natural occurrence in the Earth as well as the widespread result of industrialization. Therefore, it is very difficult to find a naturally grown product, including sometimes the food we consume, that does not have some levels of heavy metals. We ensure that our products adhere to the standards of ANSI 173 by testing the raw herb when it first comes in, and then testing the final product once it has been tableted in our unique formulations.
A. Our herbs are also tested for identity and for microbial levels.
In order to assure that the herb is accurately identified, we use both spectrometry and organoleptic testing. This involves the physical examination of the herbs using the senses of sight, taste, smell and touch. Our staff includes recognized experts in the field of Ayurvedic herb identification. In addition, qualified botanists in both India and Sri Lanka conduct botanical verification of every species grown and also identify the species at the collection point. We use visual identification, microscopic identification (involving checking plant cell structures against pharmacopoeia standards) as well as Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) and High Performance Layer Chromatography (HPLC) to verify that what we are harvesting is actually the correct species. Only on passing these tests do the plants proceed for further cleaning and drying. Once dry, the herbs are subjected to tests in accordance with the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India. This reveals that the levels of solids, ash content and active ingredients present in the plants actually conform to the recommended reference ranges.
Banyan also requires microbiological testing and certificates of analysis from all of our suppliers for every batch of herbs. Testing is done in either the U.S. or in the U.K., in government regulated labs. Test methods used are those specified by the European Pharmacopoeia, which are in conformity with the tests specified by the AHPA (American Herbal Products Association).
Q. Why doesn’t Banyan Botanicals tell customers what herbs would be helpful in certain health conditions?
A. As a dietary herbal supplements company, we are regulated by the FDA. These regulations prohibit us from making any statements that imply our products are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, illness or symptom. Unfortunately, these regulations even prohibit us from telling you the traditional and historical uses of an herb for particular health conditions. We continuously strive to find ways to bring you useful and pertinent educational information about our products while staying within FDA guidelines. For more detailed information on Ayurvedic herbs, we suggest you read the various herbal texts from preeminent teachers like Dr. Vasant Lad (such as The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies) and master herbalist Sebastian Pole. For a specific diagnosis or symptom, we recommend you seek the guidance of a primary care physician who is willing to coordinate with an Ayurvedic practitioner for the most personalized complementary approach.
A. Banyan Botanicals was started in 1996 when co-founders Kevin Casey and Scott Cote turned their passion for Ayurveda and quality herbs into the premier provider for Ayurvedic products. Their goal was three-fold: To provide the best quality herbs and products, excellent customer service and to be a center for education and inspiration regarding health and well-being.
Banyan has continued to grow over the years and led the way in providing an ever-expanding array of certified organically grown herbs. The quest for the best products has led to many an adventure, from searching for hard-to find plants in the fields and mountains of India, to the cooking of aromatic oils at the Banyan home in Albuquerque.
As the Banyan Botanicals family expands even further, our commitment to the original goals remains. We will continue to invest in projects that bring you the best products, service, and education.