Herb Pharm and Traditional Roots Institute Discover Synergy

Herb_Pharm_05_05_2014_3804-EditIt’s the kind of synergy natural medicine practitioners like to see in their herbal formulations: One component works with another to make the combination stronger. Herb Pharm, the Oregon-based company that grows and produces a wide range of herbal products, has always had education high on its list. The company also has a long history of collaboration with NCNM.

So, when NCNM President David Schleich and Vice President of Advancement Susan Hunter approached the company with a proposal to support NCNM’s Traditional Roots Institute as a founding or lead sponsor, the match was, well, natural.

“We immediately recognized it as the perfect opportunity,” said Herb Pharm’s Michael Gillette. “In particular, we love the fact that the vision of the Institute was to engage both working healthcare professionals and the community in herbal learning.”

For instance, the Institute’s Lead Physician Dr. Orna Izakson (’09) will give a talk at the third annual Dandelion Seed Conference at Evergreen State University being held in mid-October in Olympia, Washington. This conference focuses on the use of herbal medicine for community and social healing. Locally, Izakson oversees several student-run “herb walks” of regional parks and green spaces each year. She also offers continuing education classes for healthcare practitioners and the public such as classes like aromatherapy. In addition, there’s the annual spring Traditional Roots conference, which attracts some of the country’s top herbal medicine practitioners—the next one will be held May 15-17. Izakson also is planning a permaculture design workshop in 2015 that will focus on food and medicinal plants, and a class for adults who want to introduce children to herb farming.

“Traditional Roots is about bringing the people’s medicine back to the people,” Izakson said, accomplished by bringing programs directly to the public and by training practitioners.

Herb Pharm is certainly in synch with that, said Gillette. “Providing education on the safe and effective use of medicinal herbs is a key component of Herb Pharm’s mission. Education is the best way to sustain herbal tradition and to advance its use among a growing number of practitioners and consumers.”

As a result, the company has signed a multi-year, five-figure commitment to support the Institute. “We were at a point in our growth as an organization where we wanted to step up our involvement,” said Gillette.

Herb Pharm began in founders’ Ed Smith and Sara Katz’s home in Williams, an unincorporated town in Southern Oregon’s Josephine County, near the California border. Today, the company employs over 75 people, and sells products to health food stores, herbalists, naturopathic physicians and medical doctors worldwide.

“We literally wouldn’t be here without them,” said Izakson. “To the extent that we do good in the world, it’s all made possible with their support.” She added that Herb Pharm has also sponsored key speakers for the annual Traditional Roots conference, a contribution above and beyond their annual commitment. “They really get our mission,” she said.