Food & Lifestyle
Jurlique international

Dr Jurgen Klein trained as a chemist and a naturopath and his wife Ulrike Klein trained as a botanist and horticulturist before they started Jurlique International. Together they combined a comprehensive knowledge of eastern and western herbal medicine, homoeopathy and aromatherapy and a firm vision of pure, natural products to create a remarkable range of pure skin, body and health care products.

They searched many places around the world for a clean environment, mineral rich soil and equitable climate before settling in the Adelaide Hills, in South Australia, in 1983.

The 54 hectare of estates which contain the Jurlique herb farms are completely organic and certified by the Biological Farmers Association. They produce 95% of herbs used in Jurlique products. The balance of herbs, including Arnica and Witch hazel, cannot be grown in South Australia and are imported from certified organic farms.

Tim Marshall spoke to Dr Klein, Jurlique General Manager, Sales & Manager, Mark Wuttke, and Farm Manager, Mike Seyd

Dr Jurgen Klein graduated with a PhD in chemistry and worked as Research and Development Director for a leading German herbal medicine and natural personal care manufacturer. In this role he developed new products and became involved with marketing management, while also studying to become a Naturopath.

Ulrike came from a horticultural family, with long experience in growing herbs.

Jurgen and Ulrike married in 1972 and founded a teaching movement in Germany. They began extracting colours and essences from plants for use in food, cosmetics and paint products, and created their first aromatherapy products "Life Scent Creams" long before aromatherapy was popular.

In the 1970's they pioneered the development of non-toxic and environmentally friendly timber and paint products.

They moved to Adelaide in 1983, with a young family of four children, to establish their vision of supplying products which would help create youthful, vibrant, healthy and radiant skin to women of all ages.

Dr Klein attributes his success to "quality as the first consideration", and to having a strong goal, backed by research and hard work. He says "we simply did it, partly for our children and a concern that they should live in a healthier, safer world".

"We have had our share of problems and setbacks too, but we did not give up."

Dr Klein believes that the high quality of the product is possible because of the control systems he and Ulrike have put in place to maintain the quality standards "from tilling of the soil through to the packaging of the product".

He proudly claims "there are no petrochemicals at all in Jurlique products, we only use plant extracts", and he continues enthusiastically "we have had a passion, a relentless effort to ensure everything is in line with the values of the business".

The development of Dr Klein's vision and strategic objectives began with his first laboratory experience at fourteen years of age. "My grandfather made tinctures to treat injuries, using old knowledge and methods. I was inspired by him and his large garden, with a productive herb section, and his foraging expeditions into the forest."

"Also at fourteen I came into contact with alchemy, and the study of plants and minerals. The old alchemists were not charlatans, but made fantastic medicines - and they used knowledge that was thousands of years old."

Dr Klein obtained a PhD in chemistry and his naturopath qualification at about the same time and has been developing products since about 1969, originally working on soy products and herbal medicines and cosmetics for other companies. In 1972 he and Ulrike started their first company, making holistic plant colour extracts and the first commercial aromatherapy products. After developing products for others, they thought "could do it better ourselves".

"We looked for a place where we could achieve a very high standard of cleanliness, and we knew we had to be close to an international airport, for export. Here we are forty-five minutes from Adelaide in a very rural environment."

"We also sought for a lifestyle, and although we had a certain naivety about that, we were not deterred."

"We built the company through the recession of the eighties, when we did not fully realise how entrepreneurial and courageous we were being. We were really pioneering new fields, although we probably had a very conservative approach to managing the company too, and kept control of expenditure."

"We are the founders, directors and entrepreneurs."

I asked Dr Klein to explain what was meant by the "Bio-intrinsic" method. He said "we are very Biodynamic. 'Bio' is the organic part, 'dynamic' is the energy part" It relies upon potentising. We use an ancient Spagyric method from the middle ages, written down first in 1715. We call this the "Bio-intrinsic" method. With this method, the plant material is steam distilled to gain the volatile substances, followed by a percolation process to produce the liquid extracts, and the remains are then ashed to produce the vital trace elements. All substances derived from these three separate processes are then reunited to produce an extremely potent plant extract.

When asked about the future Dr Klein was enthusiastic and positive: we will increase the range of products to become a complete health and lifestyle company, to look after the whole human being, more than just the body or the mind. We have opened our first spa centre too, but there will be many more.

"We are interested in health and healing, with a the backup of scientific research and proof. We inspire people to look after themselves and to heal themselves. With diet, mental health and emotional counselling we encourage people to be an active part of the healing process by respecting their own body's needs and natural wisdom rather than looking at all illnesses in a systematic way."

"We believe you have to be healthy outside and inside, so we are starting to launch new products, such as our herbal teas, which are also medicines, and we are working with supplements. Jurlique will have a range of colloidal minerals from the Clark Mine in the USA."

"It is a very tough area because there are many false claims and a lot os dishonesty, and the regulatory arrangements are very difficult."

"We are also opening seventy spas around the world, which requires us to raise $US20 million."

"We now sell education too. We have just completed a national lecture tour where we spoke to 2,500 people about how to gain a better quality of life - real health and well being."

Both Dr Klein and Ulrike are also trained Steiner teachers with a basis in anthroposophy, and Biodynamic methods are used on their farms. Dr Klein says "we make our own preparations, and my I am trained in naturopathy and homoeopathy, and I have a good feel for homoeopathy. Biodynamics is basically homoeopathy for the soil."

Mike Seyd is the farm manager for the two properties, of about 29 hectares. Two years ago Jurlique acquired a farm near Mount Barker summit, known as "Ngeringa", which had been a certified BD farm for disabled people, and reapplied for certification. The other property, at Nairne has been certified for about eight years.

Mike told Acres "certification is only a confirmation of our practices, as we do not use the BFA logo on our products, but it ensures that we are using the right production methods."

"Water was limiting on the Nairne property, which is also home to Dr Klein and Ulrike, so we moved the herbs to Ngeringa. We will plant trees and shrubs at Nairne for future use."

"Our aim here is to be as self sufficient as possible, within the climatic restrictions, for all the ingredients for the skin care products. We cannot grow about five percent of the raw material, such as the arnica."

"We grow significant amounts of many other herbs, for instance we are quite large producers of chamomile. We could probably purchase the chamomile cheaper from elsewhere, but then we would not know what the inputs are, and we will not compromise on quality."

"The farm is very labour intensive, with hand picking and weeding, and the whole basis of our philosophy is to control and limit inputs."

Preparation of the soil is based on green manures of mustard, peas and other legumes and the soil is turned with a mouldboard plough or discs. Compost is used, spread to about five - seven centimetres thick and a Merbein plough and roller used to shape the beds. Planting is done by hand.

Although some manure was purchased this year, it is also made on the farm from weeds, horse manure and BD compost preparations, which are made at the farm. The BD 500 preparation is also made at the farm.

The free-draining soil dries out quickly so mulches are used extensively, mainly pea straw over paper, although some wheat straw is also used. Mike says "the pea straw is easier to work with, as well as containing some nitrogen". "We made our own roller to spread newsprint paper straight off the roll. It is very fast and we use three layers of paper with straw on top."

"Our system is really so simple, prepare, plant, water and harvest. In our good climate and with soil care and BD preparations, the herbs grow well and there are very few bugs or diseases."

"In winter there are five or six of us, and in spring we employ another five or six extra pickers."

Dr Jurgen Klein believes that skin care is the basis of good skin care is both internal and external. He says healthy, young-looking skin is skin which is fed from the inside, and "the best nutrition you can give skin is a healthy diet supplemented with vitamins and herbs".

"This is because skin grows from the inside out, not from the outside in, obtaining its nutrients from what is ingested via the blood, lymph and intercellular water systems. The outside of the skin may be all we see, but this is simply a layer of dead skin cells designed to shield and protect the living skin inside."

"The skin is a very intelligent organ and it simply doesn't allow all the wonder ingredients present in so many creams to fulfil their skin care promises, because it can't and shouldn't absorb them. Essential oils are one of the few things the skin can absorb, because the molecules are so small."

"Topically applied vitamins are still a big part of the skin care story, but it should be remembered that skin is not designed to absorb vitamins readily. The presence of vitamin C and E in skin creams is useful in a different way, as high concentrations can repel the damaging effects of free radicals, so they work on the surface, and very effectively. But the skin won't actually eat the vitamin C. If it did penetrate the skin, like anything else. it would be classified as a drug."

"Good nutrition is the starting point. Skin will also need to be cleansed using non abrasive products with a low pH (approximately 5-6), and moisturised with a water-soluble formulation to enable it to breathe. It also requires protection from the sun with a non-chemical sunscreen."

Dr Klein is not convinced by the benefits of some night creams either. "They tend to be heavier formulations that can block the skin, effectively suffocating it, and preventing the very cellular renewal they are meant to promote. It's an unintelligent approach to skin care. The fact that most ends up on the pillow I see as a benefit! The ideal night cream would be a water soluble substance which does not contain occlusive fats, enabling the skin to breathe through contact with the air."

Jurlique is now working with aboriginal communities in northern Australia, to develop native Australian herbal products and medicines. Ulrike travels regularly to the aboriginal lands to visit with tribal people and learn from them about plants and herbs, and how they are used in traditional medicines. She is also interested in their aromas

Mark Wuttke is General Manager of Sales & Manager of Jurlique International. The company has grown rapidly, to a turnover of $40 Million per year, with continued growth expected and doubling of turnover in the next three years.

Mark told Acres that virtually the only substances used in Jurlique products which are not plant based are beeswax, honey and royal jelly. He said the carriers used in the products are “water, saffron oil and other "all natural; products".

The company was licensed to produce "blue cypress oil" - the official essence for the Sydney 2000 Olympic games, which has been developed with SOCOG (Sydney Organising Committee of the Olympic Games).

The company operates a retail franchise with stores in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Athens, Tokyo, Singapore, USA and Indonesia and exports to 16 countries throughout the world. In addition the Jurlique products sell in department stores, premium pharmacies and health and nutrition centres.

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