What are Spagyric Extracts? An Alchemical Art.

What are Spagyric Extracts? An Alchemical Art.

By James "Slim" Miles


Spagyria, or the art of Spagyric extracts, is a subset of the early science and practice of Medieval Alchemy, a scholarly as well as mystical tradition that aimed to achieve enlightenment and eventually, immortality. In the process of pursuing these lofty goals, alchemists spent countless hours working with plants and minerals, seeking to define the potent and subtle “essence” of life which they believed was present in all matter.


Spagyric (pronounced “spa-JIR-ick”) extracts are unique in their distinct method of preparation and their attempt to capture a more complete essence of the plant. Medieval alchemists believed all matter to be made of three categories of “elements”, or Tria Principia, three principles. Regarding plant alchemy, they realized that while water and alcohol were able to draw out two of these principles from a plant (the water and ethanol soluble elements, cryptically termed the “mercury” and “sulphur” elements), the true minerals, or “salts”, which are unique to each plant, were not soluble in either liquid and could not be obtained by conventional methods of extraction. The Spagyric method they developed includes a process to capture this third element represented by the minerals and produce a more complete extract of the plant.


Statue of Paracelsus

The term “Spagyric” was coined by the renowned Swiss alchemist, Paracelsus (1493-1541), who was born Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (that’s a mouthful . . . hence “Paracelsus”) and he was relentless in his pursuit of knowledge of the plant kingdom and alchemical sciences. Many of his ideas laid the foundation for modern toxicology, mainly that the dosage of a substance is what determines its potential for toxicity. Not only a scientist, Paracelsus was also an astrologer, philosopher and mystic, who was determined to bridge the gap between alchemy and medicine of the day.


Paracelsus crafted the word “Spagyric” by combining two Greek words; ‘spao’, meaning to tear apart, and ‘ageiro’, meaning to gather together. This perfectly expresses how spagyric extracts are made: intentionally and lovingly disassembling the plant, unlocking and revealing the raw, pure essence of the plant, and after intense purification, reassembling these elements into a higher, crowning state of re-union. The alchemists referred to this as the process of “exaltation.”


Paracelsus, like other higher-minded alchemists of the day, thought that the concept of turning base metals into gold for profit was a low-grade, greedy pursuit that tarnished the alchemical arts. He taught and followed the philosophy that practicing the art of Spagyria, was an exercise in separating the false from the true, the gross from the subtle, and that the quest for gold was actually a process  of seeking “inner-gold”: realizing one’s true potential by discovering one’s pure, internal “essence” or soul.


So, what makes spagyric extracts so special? In short, it all comes down to the way they are prepared. This process begins with a high-quality liquid extract: medicinal plant materials harvested at the peak of freshness and potency, are carefully dried and cut into the proper size for extraction.  This plant material is then added to a mixture of pure water and alcohol known as the menstruum.


Next, the menstruum is allowed to sit for several weeks or even months in some cases, during which time the water & alcohol draw out the plant elements: their essential oils and other volatiles, if present, and fixed components that make up that specific plants’ chemical profile. The spagyric practitioners referred to this as “digestion” or “dissolution”. Once the menstruum has done its job, becoming saturated with the plant's array of constituents and actives, the mixture is filtered, called “separation,” to remove the remaining solids and fiber, which produces a deeply colored, robust liquid extract.


This, however, is just the beginning! While this is as far as most tincture and liquid extract manufacturers go, the majesty of creating a true spagyric extract lies in the remaining steps. Next the residual plant material removed by filtering, instead of being discarded, undergoes a series of additional steps including calcination or “firing”. These steps are intended to purify, transmute, and concentrate the plant's hidden and previously dormant physical elements for higher use; alchemists always use fire or heat for purification. This “humanizes” the plant’s fibrous materials and minerals, rendering them more suitable for the body to utilize.


Precise calcination is a labor-intensive process by which the “marc”, or leftover filtered plant material, is heated to extremely high temperatures multiple times, causing it to initially break down into spent ash by removing the carbon from the plant material. This ash is then further purified through both grinding, also called “comminution” or “trituration,” and repeated hot temperature firings in a kiln at temps of at least 1,100 degrees F. This refinement and purification of the plant minerals was referred to as “mortification,” where the plant material goes through a type of death or “purgation” with the intention of reviving and reusing it. This intense process results in the creation of a pure mineral “salt” which contains the plant's essential minerals and trace elements in a transformed state, making them more soluble and bio-available.


Exhibit 1.

Phase 1 – This is spent post extracted herb, known as “marc”, specifically from Bold Plant Shield. It has been extracted several times using our proprietary dual extraction process. You can see pieces of Astragalus root, Cinnamon bark, Codonopsis root and Schisandra seeds. When tasted, there is virtually none of the original taste or potency left.

Phase 2 – This is the same material as above after its initial firing pre-grinding.

Phase 3 – This tray is of the same batch of Bold Plant Shield above after initial firing and being ground.

Phase 4 – Final batch of plant mineral “salts”. This represents approximately 22 lbs. of marc, about 16 of the above full trays of post extraction herb, after it has been fired 3 times. All that spent herb material was reduced down to less than 1 lb. of spagyric salts to be extracted into the finished extract.


Once the mineral “salts” have been prepared, they are then carefully blended or re-unified with the original hydro-alcohol extract. After reintegration of these minerals takes place, any remaining non-soluble mineral salts, known to alchemists as the caput mortuum which means “dead head” or “useless remains,” are filtered out of the finished composition. This new extract not only contains an array of the plant's active compounds and any volatile oils present, but also the purified minerals and trace minerals uniquely found in each plant post purification - all of which comes together to create a cosmic symphony of herbal alchemy. We are certain that Paracelsus would not mind us calling it a pure work of living functional botanical art!


Deep at its core, alchemy was a spiritual and mystical tradition that saw the world as a living, breathing entity imbued with conscious energy. According to this view, all matter - including plants - contained a metaphysical essence that could be released and harnessed with great purpose. In many ways, spagyric extracts are the physical manifestation of this grand alchemical philosophy. By extracting, purifying, and harmonically unifying the higher and lower essences of plants, spagyric extracts represent a bridge between the physical world and the cosmic realm, enabling a greater connection between our bodies, minds, and spirits.


In conclusion, spagyric extracts connect two fundamental aspects present in most of the world’s herbal traditions. First is the phytochemical approach, the process of capturing the physical elements of the plant. Here, Spagyrics expand this process by returning the usually unused mineral profile of the plant back into the extract in a purified soluble form. And second, Spagyrics also capture the mystical concepts of Plant Spirit and the unique energetics, consciousness, and wisdom of each plant, a concept that has been a part of the relationship between plants and humans since the beginning of time.


James "Slim" Miles

James “Slim” Miles – is a 30 year veteran of the natural products industry, Phytotherapist, Ayurvedic Practitioner, a co-founder of Bold Botanica, and VP of Innovation & Science at Employee Owned Apotheca, Inc.


This blog is intended for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.