By Roberta Benson
Perhaps you've seen the sign on Mastel's front window, “ Proudly Selling Herbalist & Alchemist”. Did you wonder, “What is Herbalist & Alchemist? And what makes Mastel's proud?” Here's the scoop...
It all goes back to Paracelsus' time. Born Theophrastus von Hohenheim in 1493, Paracelsus was a physician, alchemist, theologian and philosopher. We're talking about a true Renaissance man. He is credited with being a father of modern medicinal and scientific thought. As an iconoclast, Paracelsus rejected much of the medical knowledge of the time (even going so far as to publicly burn the writings of Galen and Avicenna, two highly regarded medical thinkers!) Prevailing ideas saw humoural imbalances ( wind, water, ether, bile, phlegm etc.) or demon possession as the cause for human disease. Paracelsus, instead, saw disease as an imbalance of chemistry (minerals/metals/gases) and looked to observation of the natural world as the basis for knowledge. He pioneered many things including the use of natural substances in healing. From his early education in science, theology and the humanities, Paracelsus went on to medical training at top European universities. He was disappointed in these institutions writing, “The universities do not teach all things, so a doctor must seek out old wives, gipsies, sorcerers, wandering tribes, old robbers and such outlaws and take lessons from them. A doctor must be a traveler...knowledge is experience.” ¹
It's no surprise that Paracelsus set out traveling widely. Perhaps this is where he came across the herbal preparations that he coined “Spagyria”. “Spagyria” or, “Spagyric”, comes from these ancient Greek roots: spao “to draw out”, and ageiro, “to gather”. In essence, to extract active constituents from plants and to re-join them in concentrated form. At the time, this term became conflated with the alchemical process (extraction of gold from lead and other metals). Although he was trained as a metallurgist and an alchemist, Paracelsus believed that true alchemy was the making of medicines. In his view, humanity had a Divinely-appointed task to evolve natural substances to a “higher order”. To take the raw and make it refined.
All herbal extractions do this refining process; the spagyric method goes a step further. Liquid extracts get most of the plant compounds but leave minerals behind. Minerals simply aren't very soluble. The spagyric process burns the plant material after the liquid extraction is complete. This controlled burn, called calcining, reduces the plant to a white ash of pure and soluble minerals. When combined with the liquid, a true full-spectrum tincture results.
Enter David Winston, RH (AHG), herbalist, teacher, researcher/author, ethnobotanist, co-founder of the American Herbalist Guild as well as founder and chief herbal formulator of the company Herbalist & Alchemist Ltd. (H & A). Another Renaissance man! Through an European naturopath, Winston was introduced to the spagyric process. He recognized that this method would yield the finest extract possible and began using it with his own patients as well as in his company. Not every herb, rhizome or mushroom can be processed spagyrically, but in H & A's case, everything that can be, is.
Not only does spagyria contribute to the potency of H & A's tinctures of single herbs, deep roots in the “balance” theories of TCM and Ayurveda provide robustness to their formulas. The herbal combinations are chosen to have multiple synergistic actions: support and nourish the targeted tissue or organ; tonify and strengthen functioning; gently detoxify or even relax those tissues. These are thoughtfully created products.
With a line of over 250 herbal products (single herbs and formulas), Herbalist & Alchemist has something for everyone. At Mastel's we carry a small but growing array. Keep in mind, if you don't find what you are looking for, please ask. We can probably get it for you.
Here are just a few highlights:
Immune Adapt (Fu Zheng Capsules) Herbs and mushrooms are paired in traditional TCM style for building immune reserves.
Immune Adapt Liquid Extract . A slightly different formula from the above but also builds reserves.
Seven Precious Mushrooms Liquid Extract. Studied for immunomodulating and immune boosting qualities, mushrooms are currently all the rage.
Alterative Formula Liquid Extract. A new take on classic formulas supporting the major elimination organs of the body.
Fit Adapt Liquid Extract. Adaptogen herbs and mushrooms with the athlete in mind.
Focus Formula Liquid Extract. Both calming and focusing the mind. Gentle enough for youngsters but in the “brain” section of the store because it's for all of us! This is a hydro-alcohol extract.
Respiratory Calmpound Liquid Extract. Calming and soothing.
Hawthorne Solid Extract. A delicious tasting functional food. Hawthorne berries have been used for centuries as heart support.
The list goes on and on...
Whether it was inspired serendipity or David Winston knew the tale of Paracelsus, the name Herbalist & Alchemist Ltd. describes, in a nutshell, what this company is about. At Mastel's, we are proud to carry their products!
All Herbalist & Alchemist products are on sale in October 2020!