Sustainably sourcing sacred plants is very important here at The Alchemist’s Kitchen, so we’re excited to announce we are now sourcing Palo Santo from One Love Holistics, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not only does One Love Holistics support Palo Santo reforestation programs, but they also have an extensive global network of ethically conscious sources. They work directly alongside the environmental agencies that regulate the trade of Palo Santo (in Ecuador, that agency is known as MAGAP & and in Perú, they are known as SERFOR).
We spoke with owner Ian Elliot about Palo Santo for more information.
“Simply put, the majority of customers in the United States who need products from [Ecuador and Peru] are not in a position to truly vet their sources and that is where One Love Holistics comes into the picture. I have dedicated my most recent life’s work to Palo Santo and my business decisions as an executive officer are always made with Palo Santo’s best interest in mind. Palo Santo is both an aromatherapeutic and spiritual tool for people all around the world. It is our responsibility as a socially-aligned business to ensure that those who seek it out are able to do so ethically and in good conscience.
“Purchasing wood, essential oil, or any other derivatives from an unauthorized source that illegally harvests and diverts product to the black market is how one contributes to the destruction of the dry forest. Not only does this practice harm the native forests from which these products originate, they also undermine the legally compliant white market that legitimate businesses work very hard to establish & sustain.
“‘Palo Santo’ is a common name that is used to refer to a handful of distinctly separate genetic species around the world. Bulnesia sarmientoi & Guaiacum officinale are the most common, neither of which is the product which we use. Bursera graveolens is the correct genus-species of the Palo Santo we know and love. Contrary to a fair amount of misinformation, Bursera graveolens is not currently listed on the CITES Appendices. CITES is an acronym for the organization: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This is the primary environmental agency that categorizes endangered wildlife and plant species at an international level. The other species referred to above (which also have the common name of “Palo Santo”) are indeed listed as endangered on the CITES Appendices. This is one of the biggest sources of misinformation and confusion regarding this particular aspect of the tree’s “endangered species” status.
“Neither is Bursera graveolens listed on the IUCN. IUCN is an acronym for the organization: International Union on the Conservation of Nature. There was a Forest Resources Report conducted in the early 2000s, in which a sub-report from the country of Perú was used to say that Bursera graveolens was indeed an endangered tree within the country’s territory. This status is due to the illegal poachers, and contrary to common belief, the majority of this wood that is illegally harvested is actually sold domestically within the country’s borders and local marketplaces. International operators have far too many legal requirements and oversight to conduct such behavior. We’re currently working with a young woman who is actually in the process of receiving her Ph.D. in Bursera graveolens, and she will continue to be one of our primary educational/environmental consultants regarding our work down south.
“Make no mistake about it, there is absolutely a black market in which individuals illegally harvest Bursera graveolens trees, both living and dead, in an attempt to generate income throughout the dry forest zones where poverty runs rampant. This is true of all natural products and exotic heartwoods around the world. As with any type of business, there will always be unscrupulous actors involved. Legitimate international operators have far too many legal requirements to operate in such a manner. It is imperative that consumers and businesses are aligned with not only legitimate sources, but those who have a greater vision for Palo Santo and work passionately to ensure its longevity, not merely to use it as an economic resource.
“We at One Love Holistics are proponents of accurate educational information. The scare tactics currently being used by a small group of individuals across social media to dissuade all individuals in North America from using natural products that may aid in their own journeys of spirituality or aromatherapeutic healing is distasteful. As you have seen, there is currently a small wave going on around the contemporary wellness community, trickling down through some of the herbal medicine and new age spiritual scenes regarding the use of traditional herbal products and the topic of cultural appropriation. There are small groups of people essentially attacking individuals and businesses on social media for everything from use of the word “smudge” to an all-out campaign against white sage. It is often accompanied by allegations of “cultural appropriation,” and more often that not, unfortunately tied with various forms of racial hate speech. It is disturbing how much misinformation is floating around social media at the moment regarding this particular topic. It is everything that we as individuals, and as a collective business entity, stand strongly against.”
Check out more about One Love here.