While studying Zoology & Anthropology at Arizona State University I took a certification class at a local herb shop to become a Herbalist. It was through this course where I became intrigued with the world of medicinal plants. Shortly after taking the course, I began working at the herb shop part time as a sales associate/herbalist and began working as a research assistant in an ecology lab for an undergraduate research project. Our ecology group focused on studying fungal endophytes and their effects within grass populations. I stumbled upon investigating chemical compounds (phenolics) that along with alkaloids were thought to be responsible for various physiological symptoms in cows who fed on sleepy grass. It wasn't until a bit later that I discovered the connection between the work I was doing on the chemical compounds of the grasses and the ancient science of herbalism. It was because of these chemicals (and many others) within plants that they can be medicinal and have a pharmacological reaction or quality. This eureka moment was when I realized I was hooked into the world that surrounds natural product chemistry and herbalism.
I contemplated becoming a Naturopathic physician but instead decided to attend the University of Arizona as a graduate student in their Pharmacology & Toxicology program emphasizing in Natural Product and Medicinal Chemistry. I studied there, worked as a research chemist and biologist investigating anti-cancer agents from rhizosphere microflora of desert plants and developed herbalism classes of my own which I taught at Pima Community College. After graduate school I began working as research chemist for another anti-cancer project. This time we investigated anti-cancer triterpene glycosides from the leaves and seed pods of the Acacia victoriae tree. It wasn't until I moved to San Diego and while working as a research chemist for a biotech company did I begin RD Alchemy Natural Products. I never stopped practicing my love of herbs however and throughout my college years made teas, extracts and aromatherapy blends for myself, friends and family.
It was while I was working for Amylin Pharmaceuticals and out of my small, one car garage that I began making herbal extract dietary supplements for my friend's massage therapy clients in 2002. Figuring this was a plausible business I decided to make the products in larger batches and have more available to sell on a regular basis, and thus RD Alchemy was born. Soon my massage therapist friend wanted products for herself to use in her practice. Massage oils, lotions, body scrubs and masques soon followed. I worked nights and weekends for 6 years and moved the business from the one car garage to our master bedroom of our condo in Lemon Grove and then to a 700 sq ft retail shop nearby. The front of the shop was the small retail section, middle; the manufacturing space and back; where I lived. That space was outgrown after 4 years and in 2010 moved to our current location in Little Italy. This time with a much larger retail space, more manufacturing space and a treatment room.
When the recession hit we diversified. We created more products, changed pricing structures and began contract manufacturing and private labeling for other companies. We began offering seminars and classes and offer therapeutic services like massage, body work and skin care. In 2011 and coming back to my research roots another division to RD Alchemy was born, our Alchemy Research Institute. At Alchemy Research Institute (ARI); we look for cures and treatments
from natural products towards cancer, neurodegenerative and auto-immune diseases. All research is funded from profits of RD Alchemy Natural Products sales and from investors. When any one of our customers buys a moisturizer, body wash or lotion etc… they are funding our efforts to help individuals on a greater level. That makes us unique. We don’t just contribute to research institutions, we are the institute.
Long story short, today we make over 300 different products under our RD Alchemy brand name, private labels and contract manufacturing brands. Herbal Extracts, Aromatherapy Oils, Body Care, Skin Care and even Pet Care products. All for Massage Therapists, Estheticians, Naturopathic physicians and more plus not to mention to the general consumer. Everything under the RD Alchemy brand name is made with 98-100% natural ingredients, organic herbs, no parabens, no
synthetic fragrance, no petroleum products, no animal testing and all based on the power of herbal medicine. Our formulas also contain much more active ingredients and less fillers than our competitors.
In the end, after working 14 hour days, doing the website, marketing, ordering, managing a staff etc… I get out of bed knowing that I can make natural, healthy products for individuals and help people for a greater purpose beyond wrinkles. Hopefully one day we can improve the lives of those with debilitating symptoms or terminating diseases all because we make face wash and body lotion and are passionate in what we do. It’s not for the money, it’s for reality.