Dispatches from SupplySide West

‘Medicine hunter’ spears mainstream botanical acceptance

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Natural products industry Mass media Botany

For the best part of two decades Chris Kilham has been venturing into this planet’s wild vegetation zones in an ongoing search for botanicals that may have therapeutic, nutritional or wellness benefits.

The ‘medicine hunter’, as he is known, tells Shane Starling why in his time working in herbals a sea change has occurred that has seen botanicals broach the mainstream consciousness and landed him a regular prime TV slot.

“I think that the whole reputation of the natural products industry and what we do and what we represent has undergone a complete change,” ​he said.

“It used to be that if you were involved with herbal medicines for example the media regularly ridiculed this whole category and people involved with it were called the fruits, nuts and flakes. So we really had a rough couple of decades there.”

“Now the mainstream media wants to know what we know, they recognize that this is real, doctors are interested, 80m American adults are using alternative medicine…so there has been a big shift.”

“The shift is about the media catching up with the genuine cultural interest in these products and also the fact that many of them are backed by very significant science.”

Kilham peered into the issue of sustainability and noted the industry was being dragged, “kicking and screaming” ​in that direction, but more leadership was required.

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