Learning about the unique homeopathy production in France with Jean-Michel Libion
Weleda France has been making over 1200 prescription and over the counter medicines for more than 25 years – including granules, oils, creams, suppositories, ampules, oral drops, ointments, eye drops and injectable solutions. They are all produced in France in the Huningue laboratory through a mix of automation and human processes and are adapted to the individual needs of patients.
The plant to production process
Weleda’s approach to natural medicine remains the same today as it did in 1921
Jean-Michel, Dr. Pharmacy and Prescription Medicine Development Manager at Weleda France. He is a trained pharmacist who has worked at Weleda for over 30 years, the perfect person to show me around the Weleda laboratory and share what makes homeopathy in France so unique.
There is a permanent search to find a balance between humans and nature – between what we can expect in terms of health and benefits and what nature can help us with. From the fields where the plants grow, the dynamisation of mother tinctures to putting the tubes in their packs – you can see the respect everyone along to way has to the raw materials.
Many of the plants are grown at Weleda’s own gardens or if the plant type is a little tricky to cultivate they are sourced from fair trade who grow around the world, as part of resource protection and biodiversity programs.
The lab works mainly from fresh plants. To capture the freshness required to bottle the vitality of the plant the production teams ensures each plant is harvested and processed on the same day.
Bottling the plant power
To capture the vitality of the plant the lab needs to extract the plants active substances. They take the macerated plants or parts of plants as needed and mix them with purified water and alcohol for 10 to 30 days, with several manual agitation stages along the way.
When the plant active substances are expressed and filtered, this solution is called the mother tincture.
It’s a highly concentrated liquid, odorous and colorful and serves as a basis for the distilled plant properties that go into the Weleda products in various dilutions.
Nurturing the mother tincture like a baby
The application of potentizing is performed using a human rhythm, not a mechanical rhythm. This is the ultimate and subtle step in the pharmaceutical process of energization is essential for Weleda.
‘You wouldn’t rock your baby to sleep in a machine, you rock it in your own arms. It’s the same with the mother tinctures. Anthroposophic doctors prefer it this way, and so do we.’ Jean-Michel Libion, Dr. Pharmacy
Manual dynamisation allows the solution to mix in fluid motion and to resonate with the rhythms of the human being, his movements, breathing and circulation. This motion caused the original substance – mineral, vegetable or animal – to be dispersed in the mass of the neutral solvent.
The human touch
Something I love seeing time and time again at Weleda is the power of the human touch throughout the whole plant to production process. The human hands of the lab technicians intervene during the main stages of production:
For Weleda, this guarantees that human respect for the raw materials which in-turn leads to the optimization of the plants medicinal properties. Attention and care that is found at every step of the way to create the natural medicines and cosmetics.
A French favorite medicinal plant is Arnica
Used to treat bruises, swelling, aches, pains and sprains.
It is also used as a pain reliever for sore throats, insect bites as well as treat vision problems caused by diabetes and stroke.
Arnica montana according to Weleda
Arnica montana, also called “the mountain girl who heals” since the Middle Ages, is the subject of special attention at Weleda. A care that starts in the wild fields of the Vosges where this bright yellow perennial plant, from the Asteraceae family, is harvested: manual, the harvest is done at the beginning of the summer, in the respect of the plant and of its preservation in its natural state. The sorting and the separation, if necessary, of the different parts of the plant (flowers, stem, roots, leaves …) is still a stage where the hand of the Man remains exclusive. Finally, the extraction of active ingredients is done by macerating fresh plants in a hydro-alcoholic mixture. Often available in self-medication, Arnica montana has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce the effects of blows.
20,000 products are made and sold at Weleda France every day and distributed through over 5000 French pharmacies
Studies show that over half that population are using homeopathy products, either as diagnosed by a doctor or by personal choice.
What is your experience with homeopathic medicines?
* European Coalition for Homoeopathic and Anthroposophic Medicinal Products (Echamp).