Sustainable production of traditional Chinese medicine for skincare products through novel cultivation and extraction technology

Project number: SMP-2004
Requesting country: China
Year: 2020
Budget: € 40,000
Project leader: Wouter Verkerke / 
Knowledge institute: Wageningen University & Research
Project partners: Brookberries, Certhon, Duijvestijn Tomaten, Dutch Greenhouse Delta, Fresh Group, Henan Biological Breeding Center, Institute of Medicinal Plants, Personal Vision, Rebel Nature, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Smit Kwekerijen, Ter Laak Orchids, Van der Voort

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) represents a powerful body of health care knowledge based on ancient Chinese traditions. However, the sourcing, reliability and quality control of several TCM herbs (TCM’s) are becoming problematic in China, with negative consequences for both the natural populations of the plants and the consumer trust of the quality. Many medicinal species are still wild harvested, and those that are cultivated are often treated with pesticides. In contrast, TCM’s are still not commonly prescribed in The Netherlands, although alternative medicines have become increasingly popular in the last decades. This slow penetration of TCM’s is largely due to a lack of tradition and registration related reasons. The Greenhouse Pharmacy is a programme of Wageningen University & Research aimed at the cultivation of plants for valuable ingredients in sustainable high-tech greenhouse production systems and extracting the desired compounds with novel extraction techniques. Setting up a cooperation between Chinese Partners with TCM knowledge and The Greenhouse Pharmacy could bridge the gap between traditional knowledge and high-tech plant cultivation science. In this way, new solutions stimulating the use and sustainable production of TCM worldwide could be developed. Focussing on skincare instead of medicines could be an interesting and safe route and also be a possible first step to increase the interest in TCM in The Netherlands.