Why is it better to use natural ingredients versus lab synthesized ingredients, when possible
If any of you have ever taken an organic chemistry class, you may remember the word synthesis or synthesized and its’ meaning. For those who are not familiar, when a compound is synthesized, it means that a starting molecule had to go through one or more chemical transformations to become a new molecule. For example, Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) is synthesized via a three to five step synthesis, depending on the starting material. Each step of the synthesis produces what are referred to as intermediates and each of these new compounds often need to be cleaned or purified before moving on to the next step of synthesis. It sounds like magic, right! and it is very interesting but this is the part of chemical synthesis that bothers me the most. Because more often than not, most of it requires the use of large quantities of hazardous, organic solvents such as ethyl ether, hexane and ethyl acetate. Some of this solvent is reclaimed and reused, but the majority of the solvents that are used throughout the synthesis process is waste, which either gets dumped in a waste pool or goes down the drain.
Don't get me wrong Organic synthesis is an elegant art and science that is needed to make life saving compounds or materials that are not possible to find in nature, but when an ingredient can be found in nature why go the synthetic route?
For example, we love using Camu Camu powder obtained from Camu Camu fruit in our products for a sustainable source of vitamin C. Camu Camu tree, a relative to rubbery tree grows in large shrubs or small trees near Amazonian river in Peru. Camu Camu fruit powder contains very high levels of vitamin C and other useful nutrients such as flavonoids and anthocyanins packed in each small fruit which makes it a very resourceful source of vitamin C. Its taste is extremely sour with a bitter after taste. It might not sound appetizing, but it is definitely a superfood for your skin.
Mother Earth Gardener describes the rather interesting life cycle of Camu Camu trees. "The species produces beautiful white blossoms with a pleasing fragrance and sweet nectar to attract bees for pollination, and bees constantly buzzed around us as we worked. As the water continued to rise, the trees started to form small fruits, and by the time the water level had reached a couple of meters, the crowns of the trees were completely covered with shiny red fruit. These either fell into the water, where they were subsequently eaten and dispersed by fish, or were collected by local villagers. Within a week or so, all the trees were completely underwater. Although camu-camu is a terrestrial plant, it spends six to seven months each year in this state. Its life cycle is tied to the rise and fall of the oxbow lake, and in the few months it is out of the water, seeds have to germinate, saplings have to grow, and adult trees have to produce flowers; these have to be pollinated, and a large quantity of fruit must then be nourished to maturity — all before the waters rise again. The full sun and rich alluvial soils undoubtedly help the species fulfill these biological necessities in such a short period of time. Few other woody species can tolerate the severe annual flooding, so the camu-camu essentially has these fertile sites all to itself — another major advantage".
Our planet and us humans need trees, bees, sun and water to survive. Smart planting and harvesting is a must to keep our planet happy. Not every natural resource is a good replacement for a man made one but figuring out which ones and developing methods to use natural resources first is one way to reduce our accumulating waste and hurting our environment and our health.