We spend the hour talking with Ann Armbrecht, first about her new book, The Business of Botanicals: Exploring the Healing Promise of Plant Medicines in a Global Industry. It’s the first book to explore the interconnected web of the global herb industry and its many stakeholders.

Then, we revisit part of our 2009 conversation with her about her memoir, Thin Places.

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Ann Armbrecht
From tulsi to turmeric, echinacea to elderberry, medicinal herbs are big business—but do they deliver on their healing promise, the promises made not only to those who consume them, but also to those who provide them, and to the natural world?

Using herbal medicines to heal the body is an ancient practice, but in the twenty-first century, it is also a worldwide industry. Yet most consumers know very little about where those herbs come from and how they are processed into the many products that fill store shelves.

In The Business of Botanicals, author Ann Armbrecht follows their journey from seed to shelf, revealing the inner workings of a complicated industry, and raises questions about the ethical and ecological issues of mass production of medicines derived from these healing plants, many of which are imperiled in the wild.

The Business of Botanicals is the first book to explore the interconnected web of the global herb industry and its many stakeholders. It’s an invaluable resource for conscious consumers who want to better understand the social and environmental impacts of the products they buy.

Ann Armbrecht is an anthropologist, herbalist and writer. She is the Director of the Sustainable Herbs Program of the American Botanical Council and the co-producer of the documentary film Numen, which is about plants. Watch short videos from the Sustainable Herbs Program.

We last spoke with Armbrecht in 2009 about her first book, Thin Places. Listen here to the unedited version of that interview, where Francesca was joined by writer Christian MacEwen in talking with Ann Armbrecht.

Numen: the Nature of Plants from Sustainable Herbs Program on Vimeo.

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About Francesca Rheannon

Francesca Rheannon is an award-winning independent radio producer. In addition to hosting Writer's Voice, she's a freelance reporter for National Public Radio and its affiliates. Recipient of the prestigious Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for reporting on substance abuse issues for her news series, VOICES OF HIV, produced for 88.5 WFCR public radio in western Massachusetts. She is also finishing a book on Provence (PROVINCE OF THE HEART) and working on a memoir of her father, THE ARGONAUTS.