What is Spagyrics?
Origin: Greek: from ‘spao’ = I collect and ‘ageiro’ = I extract.
Spagyrics are alchemical preparations of herbs into a more potent form. In olden days; adding the purified salt, oil and alcohol of a plant together was thought as a more spiritual preparation. Interestingly enough, full extracts of plants also tend to have more powerful effects. This is verified through modern day research when it comes to ‘full spectrum’ plant extracts. Evolved Alchemy specializes in Spagyric preparation and has been manufacturing Spagyric products since 2012.
Spagyrics was a term coined by Paracelsus in the 1500’s. He popularized this method of plant extraction that eventually led to the pharmaceutical age. Many of the references in plant alchemy consist of purifying and recombining what was known as the spirit, soul, and body of the plant. Through this process new chemicals are formed that have different properties than what is found in simple alcohol or co2 extracts.
The Basic Spagyric Process
Extraction of the plant is done via alcohol and water in a soxhlet extractor for fast, high potency tinctures (all distillations should be done under vacuum so none of the heat sensitive components of the plant are destroyed). A jar and 40 day maceration can also be done instead of the soxhlet method.
Here the alcohol/water will dissolve the essential oils of the plant along with the alcohol/water soluble constituents. Alcohol is the only solvent which can extract the plant’s oils. Alcohol is also only produced from the decay of plant sugars through fermentation. It is a solvent made by plants for plants.
The solvent extracts both water and oil soluble compounds. These dissolvable compounds are also known as the ‘soul’ of the plant. It is said that the spirit of plants (alcohol) will always bring a soul with it…in chemical terms, the spirit or alcohol is dissolving the medicinal compounds of the plant (the soul of the plant).
The tincture is filtered off from the extracted herb or mark. The leftover extracted plant material is then incinerated and calcined to a fine ash. It is then mixed with distilled water and filtered to extract the minerals contained within the ash. The ‘fire of purification’ is used to drive off carbon and other compounds that keep the minerals unable to dissolve in water. The filtered water is then evaporated in a dish to yield the crystallized mineral salts.
These minerals represent the ‘purified body’ of the plant. It is mostly potassium carbonate which has a very basic pH. This process of mineral extraction extracts the full mineral profile of the plant consisting of important minerals for the body. Each plant species and the soil in which the plant grows will create different profiles of minerals in the end mineral extract. Another interesting fact is that land based plants contain potassium salts while sea or water based plants contain sodium based salts.
Recombination of the Three Philosophical Principles.
The purified white salts are gathered and crushed into a fine powder to increase their surface area. They are recombined with the tincture of the plant that was made prior. By reintroducing the minerals into the tincture, all three philosophical principles are now recombined together. This is the basic method for completing the spagyric process. The tincture now contains all the acids, oils and minerals the plant originally had but now in a more potent and purified form. In this way, the energetics and the chemical aspects of the plant are maintained to the fullest extent. It also creates new compounds specific to the chemistry of that plant and its method of preparation.
A Little Chemistry….
From a chemical standpoint, the mineral salts neutralize the organic acids of the plant. This converts the acids of the plant to their ester form yielding soap-like compounds. What was once oil soluble, is now water soluble. This form is more bioavailable, making the plant’s compounds more potent and effective. The salts also undergo other reactions that create carboxylic acid salts. Both esters and carboxylic acid salts are commonly studied in modern day pharmacology as ‘prodrugs’ due to their ability to deliver the compounds faster and without degradation before absorption into the body.
The founder of Evolved Alchemy has extensive research experience in chemical engineering and organic chemistry synthesis that is applied to the formation of new compounds only using the naturally occurring compounds extracted from the plant.
In essence, we are recreating old time apothecaries and pharmacies when alchemical methods were used to extract plants and make medicines. There is a rich history of pharmacognosy and pharmacology getting their inspiration from old time alchemists. Paracelsus for example glorified the alchemical extraction of poppy, which led to the understanding of new and more effective compounds now used in todays pharmaceutical industry. Sadly in todays day and age much of what is learned in chemistry has no foundations in understanding where these compounds are derived naturally. This is where alchemy shines, as it is a science of causes and understanding the creation of solvents, compounds and their synthesis – using only naturally derived compounds and methods.
In spagyrics, the minerals are mixed back with the tincture and reacted under low heat. The act of ‘circulation’, also known as refluxing creates a catalytic reaction between the minerals and the extracted oils in the alcohol tincture. This fusion of soul, spirit and body creates new compounds specific to the chemistry of the plant and also the chemistry of other plants if produced in a blend.
Through the study of Spagyrics, Evolved Alchemy has begun to understand and lead the way in the production and creation of pro-drug like medicinal compounds using only the natural chemicals found in the plant.