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Photo by Virginia Johns

Opportunity

Boreal Heartland Herbal Products has a goal to develop the sustainable supply of boreal forest plants. In meeting this goal, we are providing an opportunity for the world to access the benefits of herbs wildcrafted from the pristine environment of Northern Saskatchewan.

Health Benefits the world is beginning to revalue boreal plants as health supplements and for medicinal purposes. Many of the traditional and folk uses of the plants are being verified by modern science and have proven to have health benefits. An example is the use of a Fireweed or Willowherb (Chamaenerion angustifolium) extract for benefits in skin care, processed and marketed by Lucas Meyer Cosmetics as Canadian Willowherb http://lucasmeyercosmetics.com/en/products/product.php?id=5

Many of the boreal plants have been used as traditional medicines and health supplements in various cultures. Today there is renewed interest in these natural health benefits. The Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) has been used in Russia for centuries and has become very popular recently. There are many other examples, from plants such as Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) used in European folk medicine, to balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) buds which are used to make an ancient remedy called Balm of Gilead, a topical salve for muscle and joint pain.

Modern medical research is now investigating the effectiveness of the traditional plant uses. An example is the research conducted by J.Wang et al on wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) showed that extracts derived from the rhizome, stem, leaf, and fruit was effective against cancer cells (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16827159, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17034664). We anticipate further research will determine further medicinal benefits of boreal plants.

Commercial Applications

Commercial applications of boreal plants are starting to be identified through research. Examples are the use of Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) leaf extract as a natural anti-oxidant that would lengthen the shelf life of foods and biological controls of plant diseases based on properties of boreal plants. In both of these examples, the plant would provide a natural source of material for the application as opposed to manufactured additives or pesticides.

Boreal plants have other potential commercial uses from animal feed additives that replace antibiotics to ingredients in cleaners and glues.

Food

The boreal forest is a great potential food source for a world that is increasingly interested in natural and organic products. Numerous tea ingredients ranging from Labrador Tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum) to Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis) are available from boreal plants. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Sweet Gale (Myrica gale) can be used as spices. Cattail (Typha), Arrowhead (Sagittaria) and Nettle (Urtica dioica) can be picked green and frozen, canned, or dried for use as table vegetables. Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius) , Morel (Morchella), Pine (Tricholoma magnivelare), and Bolete (Boletus) mushrooms can be used fresh or dried. Wild blueberry (Viccinium myrtilloides), strawberry (Fragaria vesca),raspberry (Rubus occidentalis), low bush cranberry (Viburnum edule), and lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) can be enjoyed fresh or frozen.