We set out to deliver a new, more sustainable form of the adaptogen, salidroside, the Landkind team traveled to the tundra regions of Alaska to better understand the challenges facing the endangered Rhodiola plant.
Experiencing Rhodiola in The Wild
Our pursuit of human and planetary health begins with a deep reverence for the places, cultures, and plants that have shaped the use of nature’s most potent bioactive ingredients. The reality is that many of the world’s popular health ingredients are sourced from delicate ecosystems, where growing public demand could create existential threats to the plants, animals, and people that inhabit them. So when we set out to deliver a new, more sustainable form of the adaptogen, salidroside, the Landkind team traveled to the tundra regions of Alaska to better understand the challenges facing the endangered Rhodiola plant.
Traveling The Harding Icefield
Our exploration began at the Harding Icefield Trail, a roughly 8-hour hike through the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska that leads to the Harding Icefield, an imposing expanse of ice and snow that covers over 700 square miles (1,800 sq km) in the Kenai Mountains.
The trail starts at the Exit Glacier Nature Center in the Kenai Fjords National Park and winds through the forest before climbing up to the ice field. Along the way, we were able to experience a wide range of the region’s flora and fauna and the variety of eagles, ptarmigans, falcons, and other animals that inhabit the area.
Learning About Rhodiola
As we approached the highest altitudes of our climb, near the edge of the glacier, only the hardiest plants remained. It was at this point that we finally found what we had traveled so many miles to see, a single small Rhodiola plant along the edge of the trail.
And there it was, the medicinal plant so revered by the indigenous people of Alaska and other Arctic regions for centuries. Celebrated for its ability to help the body and mind adapt to living in high altitude conditions, Rhodiola has traditionally been used to increase endurance, improve cognition and provide heart-protective properties.
But as we stood looking at this rare and endangered plant, taking in the beauty and brutality of the environment in which it is grown, we couldn’t shake the thought of how long can this last. How long before overharvesting and changing climate pushes this vital cultural and health resource to the brink?
Alaskan Climate Change
The reality is that climate change is having significant impacts on Alaska. Warmer temperatures are leading to changes in the distribution and abundance of plants, which is affecting the habitat of many animal species and the medicinal opportunities for people around the world.
Temperature changes are also causing the sea ice in the region to melt, destroying the habitat of remarkable species, while rising sea levels are eroding the land people call home.
The Impact on Indigenous Communities
This dramatic change is threatening the traditional way of life for many indigenous communities in Alaska, including the Inupiat, Yupik, and Athabascan. The wide-scale impact on animals and plant species is affecting the availability of traditional food sources and medicinal remedies, and the future of the cultural practices of these communities.
Harnessing Science to Protect Alaska
We set out to experience the extreme landscapes one must traverse to harvest Rhodiola, a plant that needs to struggle in cold, harsh climates to reach peak bioactive levels. What we found was a serenity and a beauty worth protecting. While there is much to do, the first step is to limit our demand for the region's precious resources. It solidified our belief in the role of synthetic biology to protect the future of medicinal plants.
Ultimately, the region’s landscape affirmed a simple truth, that as citizens of this earth, we have a moral responsibility: To learn from mother nature, to take as little as necessary, and to do what we can to ensure her longevity and vitality—because our own depends on it.
Landkind is an entirely new class of sustainable supplements, born from mother nature's blueprint and precision-engineered to advance human health. Our revolutionary process enables us to harness the intelligence of evolution to create wellness products that are identical to what we find in nature. From how we source and produce, to how we test and measure – we're fundamentally changing the way wellness products are made. Learn more at www.landkind.health.