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Wild Gathered And Carefully Preserved: The Formula Behind Dr. Hauschka’s Healing Ingredients

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Each year, in southwest Germany’s forested mountain range the Black Forest, the wild plant Arnica is harvested in its natural habitat by natural cosmetics company Dr. Hauschka’s responsible picking experts. In their latest campaign produced by IGNANT, we are taken behind the scenes to witness how its passionate team of botanists and wild collectors cultivate the alpine plant, transforming it into the healer of everyday aches.

Nature is a master chemist; it is a green world filled with wild and trusted plants, powerful allies that humans can turn to for nourishment and healing. Plants have always had a way of guiding us; for centuries wise human beings have tapped into their healing benefits and used it to their advantage as natural medicine. As we continue to learn and study how plants grow and work, we are reminded that the potential of natural ingredients is endless. Herbalism has completely shifted how we view the natural world around us—plants, trees, and ecosystems are now not only recognized but celebrated for their individual roles and medicinal properties.

For over fifty years, the German cosmetic company Dr. Hauschka has believed in the remarkable healing power of plants, and has sustainably employed nature’s treasures to provide safe and natural products for our wellbeing. To highlight their dedication to care and beauty as well as their love of visual storytelling, IGNANT’s latest video production takes us to the sleepy community of ‘Kleines Wiesenthal’ in the far south-west of the Black Forest, where the special raw ingredient of many of Dr. Hauschka cosmetic products, the healing daisy Arnica, is collected and carefully preserved.

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Gently crossed by the Wiese river, and surrounded by the green hills of the Alps and the Vosges mountains in the distance, the Black Forest’s meadows near Lörrach, at altitudes of 900 meters, are sprinkled with bright yellow flowers. Since 1980, this place has been the main stock of Dr. Hauschka’s ultimate herbal remedy, the Arnica Montana. Found in sprawling clearings of subalpine forests, this ruffled perennial plant from the Asteraceae family is a miracle wildflower containing a centuries-old European pain relief secret. Capable of aiding recovery, Arnica has wound-healing, nervous, stimulant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Recommended for blunt trauma injuries such as strains or bruises, when used topically, its active constituents—flavonoids, tannins, sesquiterpene lactone—stimulate and dilate blood vessels, assisting the body by reducing swelling and inflamed tissues and alleviating pain.

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Carefully hand-picked and on foot, only whole and fully-grown plants are harvested.

Arnica, like other plants, thrives better in its actual wild habitat than in the care of gardeners. To develop optimal and healing properties, it needs certain soils and the harsh climate of the Alps—the more stressed out the plants are, the more strong and robust they grow. For decades, every summer Dr. Hauschka’s experienced wild collectors are employed for the harvesting of the arnica. Carefully hand-picked and on foot, only whole and fully-grown plants are harvested—the entire plant, or ‘Planta tota’ in pharmaceutical terminology, is needed. As the video shows, harvesting arnica requires know-how and many years of experience. Wild collectors pinch off the flowers with their fingers, ever so gently so as not to disrupt the shallow root system; careful to leave part of the rhizome in the ground to ensure the arnica can continue flourishing the following year.

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The harvesting day of professional pickers starts very early. The night hours are spent at the harvest collection scouring the areas. Collecting begins the next early morning before sunrise to meet the plants at the end of their night’s sleep, before the photosynthesis and metabolic processes begin. This guarantees the combination of sourcing ingredients that makes the plant useful for medicinal purposes. Freshly harvested plants are picked, stored, and transported to the laboratory as quickly as possible—from field to lab, arnica are carefully packed and wrapped in protecting clothes to retain freshness, potency, and healing power. The collected raw material is processed in no more than 48 hours; the fresh plants are checked for botanical and quality control, subjected to rhythmic procedures, and extracted of all active components for their mother tinctures, the base product from which Dr. Hauschka cosmetic and medicinal products are made, such as salve, creams, lotions and liniments.

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Dr. Hauschka’s arnica collection is more than a process of traditional wild cultivation, it is a project that combines sourcing with conservation and regional development. Weakened by intensive agriculture, the Black Forest’s arnica is gradually disappearing, which has led to its classification as a strictly protected species. To ensure the survival of the species and preserve the biodiversity of the land, Dr. Hauschka not only sets up good practices for picking—everything collected is pre-applied for and approved, complying with strict requirements from the nature conservation authorities—but ensures that the fields are tended throughout the year, to avoid bush encroachment. This is the message behind their latest campaign, and the company’s philosophy at large: a celebration of responsible wildcrafting and of the new generation of keepers of the green, to ensure that arnica flowers keep flourishing and that we can continue coexist with, and heal from, the sublime alpine plant kingdom.

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Video by IGNANT Production
Images by © Clemens Poloczek for IGNANT Production