The cultivation programme, developed by PLT innovation partner Nektium Pharma, is the result of more than a decade of effort focused on achieving a physical and phytochemical profile identical to previously supplied wildcrafted material
PLT Health Solutions has announced that it will begin offering its Rhodiolife Rhodiola rosea ingredient made from a cultivated source of root materials.
The cultivation programme, developed by PLT innovation partner Nektium Pharma, is the result of more than a decade of effort focused on achieving a physical and phytochemical profile identical to previously supplied wildcrafted material.
Rhodiolife will continue to be sourced from the Altai Mountain region of Central Asia. The quality control programme for Rhodiolife will continue to include state-of-the-art ingredient identification and analytic techniques. The cultivation programme will also address concerns that crop up with all wildcrafted botanicals from time to time, including harvest size, security of supply, the phytochemical composition of wild-harvested materials and sustainability.
Conducted properly, wildcrafting is a highly sustainable method of obtaining botanical raw materials. But, when an ingredient like Rhodiola rosea becomes more popular, nature isn’t always in the position to respond
According to Devin Stagg, Chief Operating Officer for PLT Health Solutions, the new cultivation programme can serve as a model for the industry as it seeks to balance commercial growth with sustainability. “Conducted properly, wildcrafting is a highly sustainable method of obtaining botanical raw materials. But, when an ingredient like Rhodiola rosea becomes more popular, nature isn’t always in the position to respond to a global surge in demand. It’s important that we understand this and constantly take steps to ensure sustainability, or we won’t have access to the natural, botanical materials that form the foundation of our products,” he said. “The cultivation and quality control programme that support Rhodiolife are built on thoughtful growing and harvesting methodologies and based on cutting-edge scientific techniques to ensure the production of an ingredient that is of high quality and consistent batch to batch."
Rhodiola rosea is an extremely hardy plant well suited to the cold climate and high altitude where it grows and is now farmed. The Altai Mountains derive their name from the Mongolian word ‘altan’, meaning ‘golden’, which may be why Rhodiola rosea is often referred to as the ‘golden root’. The new cultivated material is grown not by seeds but by vegetative propagation with root rhizomes – a technique that is faster, more dependable and, crucially, ensures that the molecular composition of the cultivated Rhodiola rosea is identical to the wild-grown plant. Nektium has put into place a Quality Assurance system that monitors Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACPs) governing rules of production, harvesting, storage, and record keeping. These are accompanied by training programmes and traceability and recall plans.
Manually harvested, the Rhodiola roots are transported to Nektium’s facilities in the Canary Islands for further processing.
Nektium’s Quality Assurance team conducts multiple identity tests on every batch of Rhodiolife, including macroscopic and sensorial analysis, the development of chromatographic profiles and independent DNA barcode analysis to ensure the authenticity of the raw material. A gentle extraction process is used to unlock the active ingredients while preserving the natural phytochemical profile of the root.
The material is then standardised to provide precise levels of bioactive compounds. The resulting HPLC ‘fingerprint’ of the Rhodiolife extract is consistent from batch to batch and matches with that of the native root. According to Stagg, this approach offers greater peace of mind around authenticity, which is especially important when adulteration is suspected. Recently, the American Botanical Council’s Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program suggested that high demand for Rhodiola rosea led to it being mixed or interchanged with other Rhodiola species before being exported from Asia.
As one of the first businesses to commercialise Rhodiola rosea extract successfully, Nektium has an established history of working alongside and supporting the local partners who undertake the harvesting of this valuable plant.
To assure that a similar quality of work was being conducted Nektium and PLT worked with Botanical Liaison’s Trish Flaster on establishing criteria for continuing sustainability of the cultivated material.
Cultivation may be the first step in being sustainable, but it is more than simply planting a seed and having it grown
“PLT Health Solutions is one of those companies that has taken sustainability seriously for the past 30 years by creating programmes and lines of communication within their supply chain. Nektium’s approach with this cultivation project for Rhodiola rosea fits this goal because its habitat is a fragile ecosystem – alpine. Nektium’s first-of-its-kind cultivation achievement relieves the pressures from the alpine terrain,” Flaster said.
“Cultivation may be the first step in being sustainable, but it is more than simply planting a seed and having it grown. Multiple factors must be considered before claiming to have a sustainable cultivated raw ingredient. As part of our sustainability audit, we reviewed propagation and growing techniques, growing locations, water sources, harvest timing and technique and post-harvest handling. PLT also takes cultural sustainability seriously, caring for those who handle the product at every stage of the process. In each of these areas, the Rhodiolife material is produced in the most sustainable manner possible and may well be the most sustainable Rhodiola rosea on the market today,” Flaster added.