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Alkemist Labs' upgrade signals a botanical industry upgradeAlkemist Labs' upgrade signals a botanical industry upgrade

Take a tour inside SoCal's Alkemist Labs, which just moved to a new state-of-the-art herbal testing facility that is five times larger than its old place.

Todd Runestad

March 23, 2018

4 Min Read
Alkemist Labs' upgrade signals a botanical industry upgrade

The Southern California botanical identity and quality testing lab moved to a new facility with nearly five times greater space. The new 21,000-square-foot facility includes a laboratory area that has expanded from 900 square feet at its old haunt to nearly 6,000 square feet at its new Garden Grove location. The state-of-the-art facility includes new DNA barcoding testing equipment, which represents the very latest in quality-control testing ability.

“This represents industry buy-in with what we’ve been doing for 21 years,” said Alkemist CEO Elan Sudberg.

Alkemist Labs offers clients a wide range of specialty research services to evaluate the identity, purity and quality of botanical raw materials, dietary ingredients and finished products. Alkemist Labs produces a complete line of Composite Reference Botanicals (CRBs), critical tools for botanical identity verification, and also distributes phytochemical reference standards from Extrasynthese of Lyon, France. 

Since it was founded in 1997, Alkemist Labs has become the ideal “partner for quality” to companies interested in producing high-quality natural products requiring independent, third-party analysis, stability/shelf-life studies, Certificates of Analysis (C of A) and cGMP compliance.

Those aren’t just any ol’ color splotches on the floor. They actually are a visual representation of a chromatogram—“The technology we hung our hat on for 20 years,” said CEO Elan Sudberg. Each bar of a chromatogram represents a separation of phytochemicals within a botanical sample; a fingerprint, if you will. The lab floor area is not only far roomier, but there’s also room for growth.

Alkemist Labs has partnered with Botanicert to offer 132 new botanical reference materials. Over half of these reference substances are new botanical and plant part combinations previously unavailable. This is in addition to existing offerings from Extrasynthese, Alkemist Labs’ own line, and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia’s AHP-verified Botanical Reference Materials.

Reference standards are vital in order to test material against type specimens to make sure your botanical identity is spot-on.

“Offering these botanical reference materials from partners with the level of expertise our colleagues have is a fantastic development,” said Sudberg. “Obviously we are passionate about making it easy for our clients to continue raising the level of product identity and quality verification in the industry.”

This is the type of locker room that no professional athlete would be able to truly appreciate. The herbarium has more than 15,000 samples and 1,200 species of industry-traded botanicals—one of the larger collections in the industry. This is important for statistical data as there are, for instance, hundreds of echinacea specimens from a 20-year span. This means a better data set to compare samples.

Think of having lots of apples over time and not just one apple to compare samples to. In this way, you can compare your unknown to Alkemists’ known. “Identity is quality,” said Sudberg.

Elan Sudberg is the son of Alkemist Labs’ founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Sidney Sudberg (right). “We are the gatekeeper for efficacy and safety,” said Sidney Sudberg. “Twenty years ago we started a lab to ensure the quality of natural medicine. I figure we’ve helped more people here than the years I spent as a chiropractor.”

Just another comfortable cube farm with offices to the side, sure. Not shown are the four HPLC, one UPLC and one gas chromatography pieces of testing equipment. And, an exciting new part of the business is the new arrival of DNA barcoding equipment, which will go into operation later this year.

“We want to be sure we do it right,” said Andrea Soler-My, director of operations at Alkemist. “There are no validated methods so you have to basically write your own book. We’re close. It’s very exciting to be able to offer this service along with the Alkemist level of quality.”

Finally, because the company has moved, clients looking to send sample materials should note the new address: Alkemist Labs, 12661 Hoover Street, Garden Grove CA 92841. 


About the Author(s)

Todd Runestad

Content Director, NaturalProductsInsider.com, Sr. Supplements Editor, Natural Products Insider

I've been writing on nutrition science news since 1997. I'm The content director for NaturalProductsInsidercom and digital magazines. Other incarnations: supplements editor for newhope.com, Delicious Living and Natural Foods Merchandiser. Former editor-in-chief of Functional Ingredients magazine and still cover raw material innovations and ingredient science.

Connect with me here https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddrunestad/

My daily vitamin regime includes a morning smoothie with a range of powders including protein, collagen and spirulina; a quality multi, B complex, C with bioflavonoids, >2,000IU vitamin D, E, magnesium, high-selenium yeast, PQQ, choline, alpha-lipoic acid with carnitine, coQ10, fish oil concentrate, probiotics and some adaptogenic herbs. 

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