What Are Botanicals?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), we define a botanical as “a plant or plant part valued for its medicinal or therapeutic properties, flavor, and/or scent.” So what are botanicals that you may easily recognize? Some of the most popular botanical ingredients include:
- Aloe vera
- Coconut oil
- Green tea
- Olive oil
- Shea butter
As you can see, some of the most commonly used natural ingredients are considered botanicals. Manufacturers use these botanical ingredients to craft skincare products, dietary supplements, and so much more. You might even have some botanical essential oils around your house right now!
While botanicals are fascinating, it’s not enough to just ask, “what are botanicals?” In fact, these medicinal herbs and plant parts offer a wide range of health benefits. Plus, if you frequent the CBD marketplace, you’re sure to run into loads of botanicals. Let’s examine how botanicals have infiltrated the CBD industry (and why that’s a good thing!), as well as learn about some of our favorite botanical ingredients.
What Are the Botanicals Found in the CBD Industry?
Do you have a CBD oil tincture nearby? Look at the ingredients list.
If you’re like this writer, you prefer unflavored CBD oils. What’s the best part about these unflavored oils? There are only two ingredients, both of which are considered botanical ingredients!
- Hemp extract
- Fractionated coconut oil (MCT)
What’s more, I like to add unflavored CBD oil to green tea (another botanical!) Aren’t botanicals great?
And you see, hemp is considered a botanical. Remember the NIH definition: a plant valued for its medicinal properties. We use hemp extracts to bring you both Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum hemp products. We can even use hemp seed oil as a binding agent in place of fractionated coconut oil. This means that the hemp plant can give us multiple botanical ingredients at once!
But botanicals aren’t limited to unflavored CBD oil. In fact, the CBD industry is packed to the brim with skincare products, dietary supplements, products infused with essential oils, and more.
What Botanicals Are Found in Skincare Products?
Skincare products – including a ton of CBD-infused skincare products – use various botanicals to offer skin-heightening health benefits. These natural ingredients sometimes don scientific-sounding names, so you might not know they are, in fact, botanicals.
For example, glycerin.
Glycerin is in just about every skincare product and some food products too! It’s a type of carbohydrate called polyol. While it can be lab-manufactured, it mostly comes from botanicals, including corn, canola, and soybeans. Furthermore, glycerin can be created from the fermentation of various natural ingredients:
It’s also found in fermented foods and drinks like beer, honey, wine, and vinegar. Glycerin’s safety profile is verified by multiple global health agencies. Plus, it packs a long list of health benefits when added to skincare products. These potential health benefits include:
- Hydrating the skin.
- Protecting the skin against irritants.
- Strengthening the skin’s natural moisture barrier.
- Enhancing the effects of other natural ingredients.
What Isn’t Considered a Botanical Ingredient?
From green tea to dietary supplements to essential oils, it seems “botanical” acts as a catch-all term for the health and wellness industry. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. To further our understanding of the question, what are botanicals, we must answer the question: What aren’t botanicals?
To state the obvious, all unnatural ingredients are not considered botanicals. While many synthetics may use ingredients found in nature, anything lab-made is not considered a botanical. These artificial ingredients have strayed too far from the NIH definition of “plant or plant part.”
But synthetics aren’t necessarily bad by definition. When it comes to dietary supplements, for example:
" The majority of supplements available on the market today are made artificially. These include vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and amino acids, among others. They can be taken in pill, capsule, tablet, powder or liquid form, and are made to mimic the way natural nutrients act in our bodies. "
By this definition, your morning vitamins might not meet the definition of “botanical.” But that’s okay! For the most part, synthetics are used when botanical ingredients are unsustainable, expensive, or otherwise difficult to come by.
Let’s look at another example. Skincare products contain an array of synthetics and botanicals. Manufacturers often opt for non-botanicals because many ingredients cannot be found in a natural form. Take hyaluronic acid. This acid can be found naturally in your skin, but it requires synthetic ingredients to recreate and infuse into your skincare products.
Botanicals: A Cornerstone of the Hemp Industry
Botanicals are vital to the hemp industry, especially when it comes to CBD products.
In fact, we can take what we’ve learned above and apply it to CBD products! For example, Full Spectrum hemp extracts would be considered a botanical. This extract is the plant part that offers therapeutic benefits. If we then used hemp plants to create hemp seed oil, that would also be considered a botanical! However, lab-made CBD isolates or distillates would not be regarded as botanicals, as they use synthetic ingredients or processes.
There are many botanicals in the world, from the green tea in your cup to the mushrooms in your risotto. Whether you know about them or not, botanicals make up a large portion of the food chain and include herbs, spices, essential oils, and so much more. It’s important that we keep learning about the power and health benefits of these natural ingredients! Feel free to browse our blog where we cover a multitude of topics from CBD recipes to the world of natural wellness.