Argentina has a history long associated with natural medicines.
One that is only growing in popularity with so many Argentinian’s seeking out a more natural lifestyle.
‘People want to know where our raw materials come from.’
Stefan Niewind, Managing Director of Weleda Argentina.
I went on a journey find out when the ingredients come from for you.
To find this natural treasure trove I left the vibrant city of Buenos Aires 800 kilometres behind to visit Jorge Gusto – the manager of Weleda medicinal garden in the quiet mountains of Córdoba.
‘The soil in the Córdoba mountains is rich in quartz crystals which provide the plants with a lot of energy to grow.’ Jorge Gusto
Jorge is the ‘green hands’ that tends the 3.5 hectares of land, 1280 meters above sea level. These gardens cultivate almost all of the plants Weleda needs for the manufacture of their anthroposophic pharmaceuticals and cosmetics in Buenos Aires.
The gardens themselves are a picture of health.
Bees are buzzing, the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing…
‘Here we have over 70 herbs, shrubs and trees. All medicinal.’ Jorge Gusto
With great skill and intuition, Jorge cultivates the gardens not in perfect rows like you may see in a traditional farm in Germany, but organically where the landscape best suits their needs. Even though the gardens may look a little different they are cultivated in accordance with Steiner’s biodynamic guidelines which we have spoken about a lot recently.
‘We apply a biodynamic agriculture by maintaining the balance with nature.’ Jorge Gusto
Villa Berna had two new beautiful flowers
Something that made my visit to Villa Berna extra special was that I got to share it with my Global Garden sisters Augustina and Alejandra, the Global Garden finalists from Argentina and Chile.
As we wandered the gardens under the shade of the birch, chestnuts and oaks trees catching up, our excited voices nearly reached the same heights as the mountains around us!
Nature healing nature
Just one of the medicinal plants from the gardens is Rosemary. This is used as a medicinal plant for its blood stimulating qualities. It’s also used to make shampoo because it activates the capillaries that feed the roots of the hair.
Nettle is another Villa Berna gown plant used in medicine and also for cosmetics. Like Rosemary is helps to circulate the blood and also has lots of vitamins like calcium which also stimulates red blood cell generation.
‘It’s a very useful plant for our health.’ Jorge Gusto
Jorge harvests the fresh flowers, roots, plants, fruits and barks himself, lovingly by hand. But then he sends them packing – these fresh ingredients arrive in Buenos Aires in under ten hours.
Locking the goodness in.
It’s vital that the fresh ingredients get to the lab as soon as possible making sure they are potentized at their most vital. The potentizing process today happens in the Weleda lab in Buenos Aires.
To give me an idea how the farm-to-pharmacy process worked before the times of pristine stainless-steel work benches and lab coats Jorge showed me the traditional process from by-gone years at Villa Berna.
A mother tincture from mother nature.
Jorge and I collected one of the medicinal ingredient to make the ‘Mother Tincture’ from the Villa Berna gardens that would be used to assist blood pressure and kidney function – The Spartium Scopodium or ‘Scotch Broom’. It is from the family of the legume shrub native to Western and Central Europe. It’s a natural diuretic and is also really useful as a cathartic relaxant and as a heart stimulant.
The process of locking the plants vitality into a liquid form is called ‘Mother Tincture’ because you can then use it to develop a multitude of different medicines. One vital source can make a whole heap of medical offspring – I joke that these are the ‘child tinctures’.
As I said earlier the process of making a ‘mother tincture’ happens in the Weleda lab not in Jorge’s kitchen! To give you a basic understanding of how the process goes…
- First you cut the herbs in small pieces in the jar
- Then you weight it and calculate the formula.
- The formula depends on the dilution you need to use.
You need water and alcohol to make the dilution.
- Then the mixture needs to sit for 14 days in a dark room.
It is important to avoid ultraviolet rays. It is better to use a dark glass or a pottery jar.
- The liquid will start to colourize within a few days, depending on the plant.
- The alcohol catches the active ingredient of the plant.
- After 14 days the formula is filtered.
- And there you have it!
We’ve been to the farm. Next to the pharmacy.
Over the next two days I will be visiting the Weleda labs and also an Anthroposophic doctor where the rest of the farm-to-pharmacy process continues. Thanks so much for showing me around Jorge.
‘The anthroposiphic doctors in Argentina are very satisfied with our wide range of pharmacueticals.’ Stefan Niewind, Managing Director of Weleda Argentina.
Have you ever visited an Anthroposophic doctor?