All Spring Wind bulk herbs are carefully chosen. Depending on availability we have seven grades of herbs.
Spring Wind Premium Grade herbs are high quality herbs that meet the following requirements:
No detected pesticides. (We test for at least 300 pesticides and in most cases over 400 pesticides†). We only accept a reading of ND (none-detected) because we don't feel we should be in the position of determining a safe level of pesticide contamination.
Each lot is tested and tracked. Testing is done by an independent laboratory in either the US, China or Taiwan.
Sulfur dioxide - we test each lot for SO2 via vapor sampling and accept only readings of 1.0 ppm or less. The choice of this level of testing is to allow naturally occurring SO2 (a natural result of decaying plant matter) yet rule out added sulfur gassing. Some of our suppliers do titration testing for sulfites. We also accept a non-detection result from this test for our Premium Grade herbs.
- If we have any reason to suspect contamination by other substances we test for them as well. For example, our seeds and grains are tested for aflatoxin contamination. We also test herbs like Yan Hu Suo (Corydalis) for aflatoxins because they are known to be subject to this contamination.
PREMIUM IN-HOUSE-TESTED GRADE
We have instituted an In-House testing program for bulk herbs for which it would be cost-prohibitive to include in our regular Premium Grade program. These are herbs of which a very limited number of pounds are sold each year and that are not currently in our Premium-Grade, Tested-Grade or Organic-Grade testing programs. As with our other testing programs only an ND (None Detected) result is accepted for herbs to which this test is applied.
Although we feel that in-house testing is inherently less optimal than testing in an independent laboratory, we have a great deal of confidence in our supplier’s in-house laboratory. This trust stems from our experience with the in-house lab of this company. We have purchased herbs from them for more than ten years and have confirmed their in-house testing of each lot we purchased with a test in an independent laboratory. In no instances did the independent lab findings differ from those of the in-house laboratory. The in-house test includes testing for 278 pesticide residues.
Spring Wind Granules are all subject to this same testing protocol; this applies to both single herbs and formulas.
About the In-house laboratory
Our supplier’s in-house laboratory is equipped with more than 50 advanced testing instruments including LCMS (Liquid Chromatography coupled to Mass Spectrometry), GCMS (Gas Chromatography coupled to Mass Spectrometry), AA (Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy), HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography), GC (Gas chromatography), Automatic Dissolution tester, TLC (Thin-layer chromatography) scanner and IR (Infrared spectroscopy) testing equipment and is certified by both Chinese and international agencies.
Using the sophisticated laboratory equipment mentioned above the lab has the ability to test for a large number of pesticides (at this time a test for 278 pesticide residues is performed on all P-IHT herbs and concentrates), 45 antibiotics (such as streptomycin, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, carbofuran, fluoroquinolones and sulfonamides), heavy metals ( including lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, copper, potassium and aluminum), solvent residues (such as methanol, ethanol, acetone, ethyl acetate, dichloromethane, chloroform, isopropyl alcohol, and benzene), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, plasticizers aflatoxins, artificial pigments, sulfur dioxide, and microorganisms (total count numbers for bacteria, mold and yeast, as well as testing for the presence of coliform bacteria, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus). In addition to organoleptic herb identification performed by persons educated in that specialty, the lab uses testing via chemical identification, thin layer chromatography and infrared spectroscopy to confirm identification of herbs.
In summary, we have chosen to use the Premium-In-House-Testing (P-IHT) protocol to screen herbs that we have previously not tested for pesticide residues. This will increase the number of herbs tested to well over 300 herbs and will now include many herbs that are not frequently used and were previously categorized as Conventional Grade. Further, we will use this grade designation for the vast majority of our concentrated granules (we will continue to confirm the results at an independent laboratory for herbs we have found to be troublesome in the past). The test includes 278 pesticides and this residue list includes all pesticide residues that we have discovered in herbs in our 20 year history of testing herbs for pesticide residues.
PESTICIDE FREE (aka Tested)
No detected pesticides. (We test for at least 300 pesticides and in most cases over 400 pesticides). Each lot is tested and tracked. Testing is done by an independent laboratory. For herbs that we discover frequently contain pesticides not included on our extensive screen we add the suspected pesticide to the general screen†. This category of herb differs from Premium Grade only in that in this case, the herb did not pass our rather strict sulfur testing protocol. If, however, the herb smells strongly of sulfur it will be rejected for quality concerns.
Organic herbs are grown without chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Spring Wind is certified by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and all organic products are compliant with the USDA NOP (National Organic Program). Our organic herbs also go through an independent pesticide screening†. We whole-heartedly support organic farming not only for the purity of the herbs but for the benefit it provides for the people doing the farming and for the environment in general. We feel the holistic approach to healing that characterizes Chinese medicine begins with an attitude that treats the earth with respect and the realization that the health of the environment and the health of the body are not separate.
GROWN WITHOUT PESTICIDES
We carry a small number of herbs that are nationally certified organic by Taiwan but have not been certified by an international certifying agency. We choose to support the small farmers in Taiwan who grow these herbs and do not have the financial resources to gain an international certification which can be quite expensive for a small grower. While these herbs are sold as organic in their local community, they cannot be labeled organic in the US.
CONVENTIONAL (aka Standard)
We carry conventional herbs for those varieties of herbs of which we sell very few. It is impractical to put these herbs into one of our other programs. For example, testing an herb of which we sell only five pounds a year would require us to increase the price of each pound by at least fifty dollars (sometimes we test these herbs anyway and try to make up the loss on other items). Occasionally, we are between lots of another grade of herb and purchase some herbs to tide us over until a lot of organic or premium herbs arrive. In no case, would we do this for herbs in which we have seen a history of pesticide residues.
Once an herb has been found to have a detected pesticide we will only carry that herb as Premium, Tested or Organic. For example, in the past several years we have often been unable to purchase Jin Yin Hua (Lonicera flowers) without pesticides and thus only carry it when it can meet our Premium, Tested or Organic standards. This principle holds true even for infrequently used items. If we determine that they are generally grown with pesticides we will not sell them unless we are able to procure a lot that has no detected pesticides.
Low level of pesticide residues
There are a few important herbs that always have pesticide residues. We keep searching but, because we feel these herbs are very important, and because sometimes we are able to find these herbs with a low level of pesticide residues, we created a grade of herb for this situation. Because of our commitment to transparency we list the levels of detected pesticides for each of these items and include relevant national and international standards so that practitioners can make an informed decision about whether or not they would like to purchase these herbs.
† We have a few standard testing protocols. About 90% of the herbs in our Premium and Tested grade programs have passed the FDA import test that tests for more than 400 pesticide residues. For organic herbs we employ the test used by our certifying agency, CCOF. This tests for 173 of the most commonly and prohibited pesticides. Occasionally, we have herbs tested in independent laboratories in Taiwan or China. These tests are for 373 and 399 pesticides respectively. Our pesticide tests are available for review on our website. We do our very best to keep them up to date with current lots, if you need one and it is not on the website please contact us and we will provide it. All of these tests require an ND (None Detected) result or the herb will be rejected.
‡ For example, in the 2008 summer harvest of Gou Qi Zi (Lycium fruit) our sources informed us that two new pesticides were being commonly used on this product in China. More than 10 lots of Gou Qi Zi were tested before we found one that did not contain these pesticides. Despite the thoroughness of our normal testing, had we not gone to the trouble of adding special tests to find these new pesticides we would not have detected them.