In an age when most companies are focused on their bottom line, it is still possible to produce products that benefit the supply chain and ecosystem. At HANAH, we believe in building transparent, interdependent, and trackable supply chains that guarantee the purity and potency of our ingredients, safeguard precious natural resources, and take care of the people who are at the heart of everything we do.
HANAH Founder, Joel Einhorn, discovered the ancient practice of Ayurveda in 2008 after a serious bike accident. After unsuccessful attempts at healing with Western drugs, it was an Ayurvedic doctor who helped him to heal using a combination of Indian herbs and diet. This experience ultimately led him to Kerala, the home of Ayurveda.
Within the forests of Kerala, exists one of the world’s most extraordinary biodiversity hotspots, with over 5,000 flowering plants*1, 145 mammal, 486 bird and 85 amphibian species*2. These remote regions of the Western Ghats mountain range, where tigers and wild elephants roam free, are considered a source of some of the most potent herbs in the world. The region is full of numerous products, such as honey, medicinal herbs, resins, incense, spices and more.
*1: “Flora.” Kerala Forest Department, www.forest.kerala.gov.in.
*2: “Fauna.” Kerala Forest Department, www.forest.kerala.gov.in.
The Forest Department and the forest-dependent communities ensure the products are sustainably harvested. Their efforts support a better livelihood for the forest-dependent population, predominantly tribal peoples. The stories are fascinating, and these herb collectors know exactly where and when to find the most pristine ingredients we have ever seen. Zero pesticides, insecticides or any other chemicals are used anywhere near these areas. Similar to wine, herbs are a product of terroir and deeply affected by soil health, climate, weather and agricultural methods. The inhabitants of these areas practice a deep respect for the land and soil.
Journeying deep into Kerala has provided a glimpse into the modern and ancient ways of practicing Ayurveda. Its profound combination of medicine and philosophy has taught us how we can benefit from and apply it to our own health and wellness.
Dr. Venugopal, or Dr. V to us, is an ayurvedic practitioner, pranic healer and traditional counselor in Kerala, India. Dr. V works directly with HANAH to help craft and test multiple HANAH products, including HANAH ONE, HANAH Ashwagandha+, HANAH Shilajit+ and HANAH Vechur Ghee. His goal is to integrate the ancient practice of Ayurveda with the modern world. His vision of spreading Ayurveda aligned with HANAH’s mission to create an antidote to the physical stressors of modern life. Dr. V worked with HANAH founder Joel for over three years in Kerala, India, to source the highest quality natural ingredients, create a sustainable supply chain and create HANAH ONE.
Having seen the work HANAH had been doing in Kerala, we were invited to visit Bhutan and connected with a member of the Bhutanese Royal family, who had an interest in finding a partner to share their world of traditional medicine outside of their country. It did not take long before Bhutan revealed its rich and pristine natural environment.
Bhutan quite literally is the land of herbs — known as Menjong Gyalkhab, meaning land of medicinal plants*3. It’s like finding a hidden Bordeaux or Burgundy that has all but been forgotten by the rest of the world. We were completely blown away. It became clear to us why the Royal Family is incredibly passionate about protecting the country’s natural splendor.
*3: MyBhutan, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR TRADITIONAL MEDICINE.
Sustainable harvesting practices that are closely overseen by government agencies ensure that the pristine mountain terroir and the potent crops it produces are nurtured rather than exploited. This gives future generations the opportunity to put what they learn from the current harvesters into practice, while taking good care of Bhutan’s vibrant and unique ecosystem.
Bhutan is also dedicated to fostering progress and happiness with their citizens. In one effort to elevate the fortunes and wellbeing of their rural citizens, the Royal Family of Bhutan established the Tarayana Foundation to educate women living in mountain villages about the medicinal plants in their locale, inform them how and when to harvest and refine them, and educate them in business so they can benefit from the recent influx of Western buyers.
The country is also the only carbon negative country in the world, with over 70% of the land covered in trees*4. It’s easy to see how Bhutan could become the “happiest country in the world.” The country even created its own index for Gross National Happiness, in which all government policies must stand up to the four pillars: Sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good governance*5.
*4: “Bhutan’s Forest Resources under Pressure: Villagers Adapt to Change.” CIFOR Forests News, 22 Nov. 2018.
*5: Youn, Soo. “Visit the World’s Only Carbon-Negative Country.” Bhutan Is the World’s Only Carbon-Negative Country, 17 Oct. 2017.
The National Institute of Traditional Medicine is a training, research and practice center where many of Bhutan’s traditional medicine doctors are educated and practice their craft. Also part of the institute is Menjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals, which is associated with the Bhutanese Ministry of Health. This pharmaceutical and research unit is the premier manufacturer of the traditional herbal-based medicines supplied to the healthcare facilities nationwide. HANAH works directly with the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Menjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals to formulate our powerful Cordyceps+ and Turmeric+ products according to Sowa Rigpa — the centuries old traditional Tibetan medical system.
When it comes to sustainably and ethically sourcing all of our herbs and ingredients, we turn to local harvesters and cultivators who have a deep respect for the environment and the soil. We learn from their centuries of knowledge passed down from generation to generation, the same knowledge and experience that enables them to assist us in creating unique time-tested products and provide us with the purest and most efficacious ingredients on the planet.
Our flagship product, HANAH ONE, is manufactured using Ayurvedic cooking procedures with traditional vessels. These vessels are made in villages, and therefore the demand for them supports the local communities. Since the process itself is more natural, much of the work is done by hand. The production of HANAH ONE brings good paying work to rural areas, which particularly benefits women, and also helps preserve and develop natural sources.
HANAH’s Ayurvedic ghee comes from the milk of the Vechur cow, a rare dwarf breed native to Kerala, India. These tiny cows have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years as a powerful source of nutrients because they graze the mineral-rich lands and are able to synthesize the local grasses and herbs, producing milk that is widely known for its healing properties. Unfortunately the Vechur breed was close to disappearing as they were being crossbred with larger cows to increase milk production. By 2000, they were on the world watch “critical maintained breeds list.” Thanks to efforts driven by Dr. Sosamma Lype and the Kerala Veterinary college, they have been saved. HANAH is committed to working with local farmers and the Kerala Veterinary College to assist in conservation efforts. We purchase as much ghee as we can, about 100 jars per month, at a very high price, which helps the local communities keep the breed alive and thriving. We also adopted a cow named Narayani in 2017, and donated her to a special sanctuary. The caretakers are all volunteers and dedicate their days to the health and preservation of these special cows.
When we needed to procure larger amounts of natural honey for HANAH ONE, we approached some of the tribal communities in the forests of the Western Ghat mountains in Kerala, India. This allowed us to source the highest quality wild, multi-floral mountain honey from the deep forests, and the resulting increase in demand brought the tribal societies work and revenue. These forests are part of the Western Ghats, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and honey collecting is a major means of livelihood for the forest-dependent communities. Throughout the entire process, we worked side-by-side with the Keralan Dept of Api Culture (Api = bee), who showed us how they monitor the health of the bee population and how bees work together, and are an integral part of our life on earth.
Our wild Himilayan Cordyceps are harvested only by experienced locals who are approved by the Bhutanese government because of their understanding and respect of the delicate mountain ecosystem. Cordyceps has elevated the standard of living for many Bhutanese and opened up new opportunities in business and education that previously would have been unimaginable. Without their lucrative trade, many highlanders would have to return to full time yak farming, which is extremely labor-intensive and yields a comparatively paltry sum of around $155 per year. At HANAH, we believe that all our local partners in Bhutan deserve to be compensated fairly for their efforts and expertise far beyond the country’s average wage of NU40 (the equivalent of less than a dollar a day). This way, they can provide a living for their families and pass on their eco-friendly and sustainable practices to their children.
Our harvesters don’t cultivate traditional crops in the way of Western agriculture, but instead allow nature to take its course by wild harvesting the desired botanicals in their natural environments on an as needed basis. We rely on a trusted group of local harvesters to collect just enough of each ingredient by hand from the wild, where they grow among hundreds of other botanicals in diverse, pristine ecosystems nourished by mineral-rich soil and natural spring water. Such harvesting is done in a sustainable way that leaves the source unspoiled, so that the herbs can continue to grow year after year. Their deep connection to the land that they inhabit means that every possible measure is taken to avoid upsetting the delicate ecological balance of these treasured habitats.
“We promise to never cut corners and we are fully committed to protect the land from which we source our products. Not only is this the right thing to do, it creates products with noticeable results.”