ARCHIVED - Nova Scotia manufacturer leads the way in organic herbal industry

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Naturally Nova Scotia Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

October 01, 2007— Halifax, Nova Scotia

Nancy Smithers, propriétaire de Naturally Nova Scotia

Nancy Smithers, propriétaire de Naturally Nova Scotia

Today, more and more people are turning to herbal remedies to ensure healthy living. A herbal manufacturing company in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia is capitalizing on this consumer demand by using innovative technology to produce high quality organic herbal products.

Naturally Nova Scotia was founded by Nancy Smithers in 1994. The company has grown from a small home-based operation to a leading-edge business that occupies a 250 acre farm. The company markets a complete line of organic herbal products, including extracts, capsules and throat sprays. Its biggest market is Japan where 75 per cent of their herbal products are sold. It also sells products in Canada under the Naturally Nova Scotia and President's Choice labels. Naturally Nova Scotia will be launching their products in Germany in September 2007, and they also expect to enter the U.S. market next year.

Naturally Nova Scotia prides itself on being a 'start to finish' manufacturer. The company is involved in all stages of production from growing and harvesting herbs and product formulations to manufacturing a finished product and market distribution. Naturally Nova Scotia is the only herbal manufacturing company in the Maritimes, and one of a handful across the country. Naturally Nova Scotia uses only Canadian farmers to grow their product. The company is also a 100 per cent organic ISO certified herbal company -- the first herbal company in North America to achieve such certification.

At Naturally Nova Scotia, herbs are organically grown and when harvested, a state-of-the-art freeze-drying method is used to dry the herbs. Freeze-dryers remove water from the herbs under sub-zero temperatures and high vacuum leaving the essential active ingredients intact. This process maximizes effectiveness and quality. Following freeze-drying, the herbs are either ground for use in capsules or proceed to an extraction process. Freeze-drying herbs is a more advanced process compared to hot air drying which oxidizes the herbs, potentially destroying active ingredients.

Naturally Nova Scotia has made tremendous gains in the herbal industry with its superior quality extract, and owner Nancy Smithers gives much of the credit for the company's recent success to the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). NRC-IRAP helps small- and medium-sized enterprises pursue technological innovation. Their advisors, who are experts in a variety of industries, are located throughout the country and work one-on-one with firms on technology and innovation strategies, link them with appropriate expertise, and help find relevant technical information.

Smithers admits that when she started her company she had a lot to learn about the herbal manufacturing industry. Back then, there was little research done on herbal remedies and extraction protocols. The extraction method involves using a liquid, usually alcohol, to remove components from herbs. As Smithers puts it, she was "puddling" along trying to learn about the industry, mostly from herbal booklets and the knowledge she gained when achieving her Master Herbalist designation. As a small company, it was challenging to access costly expertise in the field and, therefore, difficult to move forward. But Smithers was determined to grow her business and search out all avenues. The search brought her to NRC-IRAP, resulting in a relationship that provided her with technical advice from its advisors and collaboration with scientists at the NRC-Institute for Marine Biosciences (IMB). The NRC assisted Naturally Nova Scotia to achieve the scientific edge it needed to expand and become an innovative leader in the organic herbal remedy industry.

Over a period of six years, Naturally Nova Scotia worked closely with NRC scientific advisors and natural products experts at NRC-IMB on research and development of extractions protocol for herbs for new product lines. The herbs used in the project were blueberry, cranberry, milk thistle, Echinacea, St. John's wort, valerian and chaste tree.

"Partnering with NRC-IRAP and NRC-IMB enabled us to work with experts in the food science and natural products fields in developing extraction protocols for herbs that would produce a superior quality product," said Smithers. "This joint venture helped us achieve herb extracts that are new to the marketplace because of research and scientific background. While there are others out there doing herb extracts, our methods have undergone extensive scientific analysis, making it unique."

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