Every year Bioforce produces around 120 metric tons of the popular Santasapina cough syrup, 100 metric tons with alcohol and 20 without. The bulk of spruce tips needed to produce of this enormous quantity of syrup – 20 to 25 metric tons – comes from wild collection with 5 metric tons cultivation. This latter amount increases each year. The spruce tips come from Carinthia, Austria and the Saarland, Germany, both of which have been used as major sources of sustainable cultivation for many years. The pickers must have approval from landowners and foresters. Bioforce requires that the shoot tips be picked only from the lower two thirds of the young tree so as to cause as little damage as possible to the growth of the tree, ensuring sustainable cultivation. Hand harvesting takes place in the four week period, starting mid-May, and each supplier must deliver an agreed amount. As is always the case with fresh plants, time is the crucial factor because the tips must arrive in Roggwil as fresh as the morning dew. Whether during harvesting, on the road, at customs or during unloading, every minute counts.
As soon as the lorry arrives in Roggwil with the delivery, the aromatic greenery is unloaded. Any spruce tips which have been overheated and turned brown during transportation are rejected. Only fresh, fragrant green shoots belong in Santasapina cough syrup! On arrival, the raw material is first tested by Bioforce laboratory staff against set guidelines to establish identity and check for contamination. Once the spruce tips have undergone this detailed examination, Santasapina production can begin.
Cough Syrup with Alcohol
Let us first examine the manufacturing process that results in Santasapina syrup with alcohol.
After the quality checks the spruce shoots are placed on a conveyor belt where the plants are chopped up. After the mixture has been pressed, the pressed juice and residue remains – these form the basic ingredients. The residue is put into sacks and is almost immediately frozen to minus 26 degrees centigrade. Because the pressed spruce shoot juice is naturally unstable, it is preserved with alcohol and kept in a large storage tank. Following strict guidelines, laid down by Bioforce, quantities of the cough syrup to order are then produced.
The residue and pressed juice together form 20 percent of the end product and holistic standardisation is used to ensure consistency of the active ingredients between one year’s crop of shoot and the next. To produce the syrup itself, the residue is boiled with water in a mixing tank, then pressed and once again concentrated. Then the concentrated pressed juice is sweetened with raw cane sugar and likewise concentrated. These extracts are mixed together and pear juice concentrate, honey and essential oil (such as spruce needle oil) added, until the sugar content of the syrup, known as the viscosity, reaches the required level. The finished Santasapina cough syrup contains three to four percent alcohol.
The advantage of this production system is clear - the cough syrup can be produced on demand, as the residue and pressed juice are kept ready to be processed at any time. In practice this means that production can take place to order, ensuring that, while careful forward-planning is a must, Bioforce can always respond quickly to market needs.
Particularly suitable for children
The production of alcohol free Santasapina cough syrup requires only one production step instead of two. The newly arrived spruce shoots, having passed through the standard laboratory examination, are chopped up, without using alcohol, put into water and heated. Afterwards the juice of the shoot tips is pressed and this now forms the basic ingredient for the alcohol free syrup. The addition of pear juice concentrate, honey and essential oils gives it the distinctive taste that so many children love. Incidentally, both varieties of syrup (which can also be taken in a little warm milk or tea) act in exactly the same way.
The final stage
The final stage has now been reached. The prepared syrup – both with or without alcohol – is heated to a maximum of 40 degrees centigrade. This is because the heat thins the syrup so making it easier to fill the bottles. Each country has its own specific requirements as to bottle size. Then, after a final quality inspection, it is packed and delivered to various customers at home and abroad.
Guidelines for Bonbons and other Syrups
Santasapina cough syrup forms the base for two other A.Vogel/Bioforce products: Santasapina Bonbons and Drosinula syrup. The latter also contains the extracts of sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) and ivy (Hedera helix). This syrup helps with stubborn coughs, catarrh and persistent mucous and, as Alfred Vogel writes in The Nature Doctor, is ‘effective for bronchial asthma and congestion in the lungs’.
Many children know and enjoy Santasapina bonbons. This delicious lozenge is effective against hoarseness, coughs and catarrh, and is soothing and beneficial for the pharynx and throat.