Q: How did the Harker Herbals brand start?

The inspiration behind Harkers was Malcolm Harker himself. Malcolm suffered from multiple health issues and was not responding to medical treatment. Recalling some of his grandmother’s remedies, he started reading about the traditional use of plants and decided to blend his own medicinal herbal concoctions.

As a self-taught herbalist, his first efforts were rather messy – some blends had a habit of exploding! But later with formal training and a herbology degree, he not only refined his technique, but also developed up to 40 unique herbal blends that worked with his holistic healing approach – and that was the beginning of Harker Herbals.

Q: How has the brand evolved over the last 40 years?

Harker Herbals today is very different from the little apothecary Malcolm opened in Waipu in 1981. Today you’ll find our products in pharmacies and health stores throughout New Zealand and we have a new master herbalist who has been with us since Malcolm passed away in 2017.

In the early 1980’s when we started, natural health was viewed with some scepticism – something for hippies! But over the years, as science has proven the effectiveness of plants, natural health has grown to become the biggest growing category in pharmacy. To cater for this expanded market, our new herbalist created contemporary products with a focus on unique combinations of natural ingredients in high strength formulas.

Q. How do these high strength formulas work? 

Our modern ranges focus on three things: using evidenced backed natural ingredients, providing therapeutic amounts of those ingredients in each dose, and ensuring that each dose actually tastes good. All the formulations follow our holistic approach, so work together if you’re taking more than one at the same time.

Being liquids, these formulations absorb quickly, and you can adjust the dose to get more or less, depending on what you need.

Q: What is your holistic healing approach?

Holistic healing focusses on treating the person as a whole, rather than just one specific health condition. When one function of the body goes awry it can set off a chain reaction that unbalances the systems that keep your body working well.

Let’s say you’re not sleeping well. Not only do you start the day tired and lacking energy, you feel stressed because you haven’t slept. Your feelings of stress cause cortisol to rise, making you feel even more wired (but still tired). Your wired brain messages the digestive system that all is not well leading your digestive system to play up (constipation/diarrhoea). Your upset digestive system means the immune cells in your gut (where most of your immune cells live) are compromised, leaving you open to infection. Our philosophy is to rebalance all those systems so they work in sync again.

Q: What are your wellness essentials?

For our busy modern lifestyles, we’d have to say a great immune product is essential. So a combination of Immune Boost with our high strength Vitamin C is a good start for your wellness routine.

Immune Boost has whopping doses of plants and mushrooms known as adaptogens. These help your body respond to stressors, so they help with energy, immune health and overall wellbeing. These are not ingredients you’d add to your salad! So the best way to get their benefits is from a high strength formula like Immune Boost.

Vitamin C is always a good extra. Our bodies can’t store vitamin C or make it, so it’s good to make sure we’re topping up each day as we don’t always get what we need from diet alone.

Q: What’s a great go-to product to cover all round wellness?

It has to be our Elderberry + syrup. Black elderberry is loaded with anthocyanins which work with immune cells to help defend them from invading bugs. This formula contains mega amounts of black elderberry and also a high dose of vitamin C and your RDI of zinc – all immune superstars!

This “3 in 1” product is great for every day maintenance or simply increase the dosage when you feel symptoms coming on. This syrup tastes absolutely delicious – you’ll have the whole family sneaking an extra spoonful.

Q: What are the big health trends you see?

 The pandemic has really focussed the world’s attention on immune health – keeping our immune systems in tip top shape so we have the good health to get on with doing the things we love – and just being well to enjoy our lives day to day.

But the big trend we see is the uptick in stress related symptoms. Not getting enough quality sleep and worrying about the million things we have to cope with each day. Stress affects us in so many different ways; disrupting sleep and compromising our immune systems. So it’s really important to minimise stress, then sleep and energy will be restored.

Q: What’s your advice to anyone looking at using natural supplements?

If you’re new to supplements, start with a reputable brand so you know you’re getting premium ingredients in meaningful amounts. Then look to see if the ingredients are tested for heavy metals and other nasties – you want all the good stuff and none of the bad.

And to add variety to your wellness routine, try treating supplements more like food. It’s easy to add our syrup doses to smoothies, drinks or make into gummies – these work a treat!