When I look at the modest shelf that houses my beauty products and various medicines, there’s a little bit of a discrepancy. My serums, lip balms, and face masks are made with clean ingredients and powerful active botanicals. But for easing a pounding headache or relieving an upset stomach, I often turn to the remedies of my childhood: familiar pills with ingredient lists I’ve never read. As someone who uses a sharp eye on labels at the grocery store, follows a plant-based diet, and purchases natural laundry detergent and cleaning supplies, I’m surprised I’ve never given a second thought to the way I choose to heal.
For Lily Galef and Nina Mullen, two of the co-founders of Hilma, this realization was a turning point. When Lily was coming down with something and the two took a look at what they had for remedies, the products on hand were brightly-colored and filled with sugars and dyes. Taking this realization to Hilary Quartner, a friend of Nina’s from Harvard Business School, the three took time to do some research, uncovering the many barriers to entry for natural alternatives. This discovery led to the start of a two-year journey: to create science-backed natural remedies for your medicine cabinet.
The first step? Putting together a Scientific Advisory Board that would help guide the team’s unique scientific process and ensure that the products created were of the highest quality and efficacy. This board, which took a year to formulate, includes an expert lineup of exceptional doctors, herbalists, academics, and holistic practitioners.
Getting the brand off the ground meant navigating many roadblocks, the most substantial of those related to manufacturing. There were an enormous amount of requirements for the way in which the product needed to be manufactured, what could and could not be included, as well as rounds of different testing required to be completed on multiple stages of the product. “Those two years were fascinating,” Lily remarks. “We learned more than we ever thought we would know about the herbal space, the power of natural ingredients, and the challenges with creating truly scientifically-backed natural remedies.”
Hilma has a strict no-list with ingredients they’ll never include. Think artificial preservatives and sweeteners, synthetic colors, and stearates, among many others. Each product that does make the cut is heavily researched by the team’s advisors and has to have existing clinical research behind it. To add to the body of scientific research being completed on natural ingredients, the brand also conducts clinical studies on each of their products.
The ingredients in these formulations are incredibly powerful. Immune Support, a supplement that’s mixed into hot or cold water, features zinc: an essential mineral for many of the body’s functions that also activates T-cells to assist in the regulation of the immune system. Upset Stomach Relief, a capsule for relieving heartburn and stomach upset, contains artichoke leaf extract: a digestive bitter with the ability to modulate the digestive process and maintain blood sugar balance for relief.
Looking to the future, Hilma envisions natural remedies in every home and an industry with a stronger emphasis on transparency and scientific backing. With supplements this thoughtfully-developed, they’re well on their way. I know I’ll be making some switches to my medicine cabinet. It might be time to rethink yours, too.