London Apothecary Comes to Canada
Planet Botanic was originally the brainchild of medical herbalist Douglas Schar*. Douglas and I had been working together in his London, England-based herbal apothecary ‘The Herbalists of Columbia Road’ somewhere around the summer of 1998, when we decided the company needed to be upgraded to modern times. The little herbalist’s apothecary in East London was both a retail outlet for herbal medicines and a professional clinic, and had its old world charm by the boatload, humming along nicely – however, we weren’t attracting the average modern consumer. The bottom line was that we needed to inject some fresh blood into the company, and so it was that Planet Botanic was born. Our mandate became that we promised to provide accurate, well-researched, reliable and trustworthy information on herbal medicines to a fresh market that was obviously confused by the proliferation of health stores that had no idea what they were doing when it came to herbs.
One of the greatest examples of why we saw fit to create Planet Botanic comes from Douglas himself, who while shopping in a US health market, was horrified at what he both saw and experienced. Doug had been trying to help a friend locate a good source of echinacea for home use. On the shelves of this particular shop were at least 7 different brands of echinacea, each with labels showing different ingredients, different dosages and different suggestions on how or what to use it for. Only one brand closely matched the echinacea we had been using in the past. Aside from this puzzle, the clerk had no idea on how to advise or suggest and on top of that, decided to come up with her own ideas on its usage. Luckily Doug was with his friend, or she could have walked out of there with a product she didn’t need, or worse, a product that could have endangered her health. . When a health shop hires a clerk at minimum wage with no certification in herbal medicine practice, you can easily foresee a lawsuit on the horizon.
There are no regulatory boards that monitor health shops or markets, so you can see why it’s so important to know as much as possible about ‘any’ health treatment or regime before getting into it. On that note, it seems important to reiterate that anyone embarking on such a health regime should also check with their family doctor or GP before doing so. Fortunately, western doctors in general are starting to become more aware of the value of herbal medicines, and many are willing to assist you in this regard.
Traditional and modern medicine ideals were combined when Planet Botanic joined forces with a well established first aid supply company (Dixon Health Care), also based in the UK, and set up a new think tank operation. From there we plotted world herbal domination and set out on many botanical adventures. One of the adventures took both Doug and myself from the UK back to the US and Canada, where I began looking into setting up a North American station for Planet Botanic. In 2002, I eventually ended up in Vancouver, British Columbia – a world class ‘alternative health’ mecca – and began to get the wheels in motion.
Thus far, Planet Botanic has become a passionate hobby for me. With input from Doug, I continue to build the Planet Botanic website and draw on my experiences with him and the world of herbs, in an effort to compile what I hope will become one of the truly reliable and trustworthy herbal information websites available to consumers.
At the moment, we are not selling products online and are concentrating mainly on providing accurate information at no cost. I do hope to set the website up for e-commerce in the future. Queries as to buying our teas can be sent online whereas queries as to purchasing herbal medicines can be mailed to Gaia Garden, a local herbal apothecary where I purchase my own supplies. They do have a mail order service and are very happy to help you with your questions on natural healing and plant medicine. T
So that’s the Planet Botanic story up to now. It evolves each day and continues to be a passion for me and each new ‘victim’ I proselytize to wherever possible. I encourage you to dig deep and explore the Planet Botanic website, and other herbal sites that you can find. The world of herbs and herbal medicines is a fascinating one, and I am ever more pleased when I see more people discovering this for themselves.