Asian herbs playing a more important role in novel actives

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sustainability

Herbal remedies have long played an important tradition in many Asian cultures, and now many of the most important herbs are being uses as extracts in highly sophisticated novel active ingredients.

These herbs have been an integral part of medicines and beauty routines in many Asian countires, particularly Japan, China and India, points out Arunasiri Iddamalgoda, director research & development at Ichimaru Pharco, who also believes that the scope for the further development of these herbs as novel active ingredients is significant.

Right now Indian Ayurveda herbs and Chinese medicinal herbs are proving increasingly popular, explains Iddamalgoda, who highlights the Ayerverdic herb neem as being one of the most popular novel actives for both hair care and skin care formulations right now.

However, there are some specific challenges to developing such ingredients, as Iddamalgoda points out: “There are cosmetic regulations in many of these countries and it may be difficult to pass regulations for new herbs regulations in the countries like Japan and China. Specifically, in Japan there is a special category called Quassi Drug additive and only certain herbs can be used in this category.”

Likewise, ensuring a reliable supply of high quality raw materials or extracts can be a significant challenge as there are many factors that may jeopardize this.

“Quality of herbs is an important factor, particularly in countries like Japan. Likewise seasonal variation and other environmental factors affect the quality. There are also many wild plant species used for cosmetic ingredient development, which means supplier information pertaining to their traceability and sustainability is essential,”​ Iddamalgoda said.

In a presentation given at the forthcoming Organic Monitor Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, held in Hong Kong this November, Iddamalgoda will also expand on how the market for herb based ingredients is evolving.

Ichimaru Pharco is a leading manufacturer of herbal novel actives, and in the presentation he will explain how the company has to work closely with raw materials suppliers and work with local communities to cultivate ingredients with the right qualities and ensure they are sustainably sourced.

Likewise, the type of herbal ingredient and the different functionality is also dependent on the different cultural interpretations of beauty.


“Each country or region has different demands or concepts for cosmetics. Therefore, we supply herbs with skin whitening efficacy for Asian market and anti- aging properties herbs for the European as well as the Asian market. Acne care is one of the specific categories that is more global, if we have good herbs for this concept."

Arunasiri Iddamalgoda will be giving a presentation entitled: Developing Novel Actives from Asian Herbs, at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit​, to be held in Hong Kong November 12 – 13.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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