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Josef Brinckmann Named President of American Botanical Council’s Board of Trustees

Noted medicinal plant expert has over 40 years of experience in global herb community

AUSTIN, Texas (January 17, 2023) — The American Botanical Council (ABC) is pleased to announce the election of Josef Brinckmann as the president of the nonprofit research and education organization’s Board of Trustees.

Brinckmann has more than 40 years of experience in the herb and medicinal plant industry and extended community. In 1979, Brinckmann began working for the medicinal herbal product company Traditional Medicinals, which was then based in Guerneville, California, and now is in Sebastopol. Since 2016, he has been the Research Fellow in Medicinal Plants and Botanical Supply Chain for the company. In the early years he played several roles at Traditional Medicinals from purchasing to general manager, then operations manager until leaving in 1986. He returned in 1997 as vice president of research and development and later became vice president of sustainability.

Before returning to Traditional Medicinals in 1997, Brinckmann worked at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, then at Trout Lake Farm, the largest organic herb farm in the United States, and also at the former East Earth Herbs, a manufacturer and marketer of Chinese herbal products.

An expert on global sustainable sourcing of botanical ingredients, good agricultural and collection practices, medicinal plant conservation, and medicinal plant quality assurance, Brinckmann has authored many articles on sustainability and quality in scientific journals, including the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Economic Botany, and Planta Medica. He has also translated from German into English a reference book about medicinal plants used as teas, Teedrogen by Max Wichtl (2004). He is a co-author of Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs (2000) with ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal and herbalist Alicia Goldberg.

For almost 20 years, Brinckmann has served on various expert committees and panels at the United States Pharmacopeia. He was a founding member of the board of the FairWild Foundation, an international standard-setting organization for the sustainable commercial harvesting of wild medicinal plants. He has served as a consultant on market intelligence and sustainable production and trade of medicinal plants to numerous governmental and intergovernmental organizations and is the member of the editorial boards of several scientific research journals and trade publications. 

Brinckmann has a long-standing relationship with ABC. He has authored or co-authored more than 60 articles in HerbalGram, ABC’s peer-reviewed quarterly journal He has authored or co-authored more than 60 articles in HerbalGram, ABC’s peer-reviewed quarterly journal, and has been on ABC’s Advisory Board since 2006. For this and many other reasons, ABC recognized his many outstanding contributions by awarding him the ABC Champion Award in 2017.

“ABC is deeply grateful to have someone of Josef’s extensive experience and profound commitment to medicinal plants as the President of the ABC Board of Trustees,” said Blumenthal. “I have known Josef for nearly 45 years, and I have always appreciated and respected his deep, wide, and detailed knowledge of medicinal plants. Josef is an internationally recognized expert on the quality of botanical raw materials as well as their sustainable sourcing and development.”

Gayle Engels, ABC’s special projects director, said: “I am excited to have Josef as ABC’s Board of Trustees president. He has demonstrated his commitment to the organization and its mission repeatedly and his standard of excellence is second to none. Having co-authored 29 herb profiles for HerbalGram with him, I can think of no one I would rather have leading ABC’s Board in this time of transition, opportunity, and growth.” 

With extensive experience in sustainable sourcing and trade of medicinal plants in the international market, Brinckmann was also a key advisor to Ann Armbrecht, PhD, in the creation and development of ABC’s Sustainable Herbs Program. “Josef Brinckmann has been instrumental in the vision and direction of the Sustainable Herbs Program from the outset,” she wrote. “He made the introductions that made my first site visits to herb producers in eastern Europe possible. He has patiently explained the nuances and complexities of the botanical industry to me. He offers suggestions and guidance on specific programs and initiatives. More than all of that, his passion and commitment to doing all he can to care for the plants, the people working with the plants, and the planet inspires and empowers me to do all I can as well.” 

Brinckmann said: “It is a genuine honor to be entrusted to serve as President of the Board of Trustees of the American Botanical Council, now in its 35th year, alongside ABC’s founder and executive director, my friend and mentor Mark Blumenthal, with my fellow board members, for whom I have the greatest respect.”

Other members of the ABC Board of Trustees include Bernadette Marriott, PhD (secretary), the first director of the Office of Dietary Supplements at the US National Institutes of Health; Holly Shimizu (treasurer ), Executive Director Emerita of the US Botanic Garden and first curator of the National Herb Garden at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC; Tieraona Low Dog, MD, author, integrative health physician, and Founding Director of Medicine Lodge Ranch in Pecos, New Mexico; Michael Balick, PhD, Director and Philecology Curator of the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, New York; and Christopher Hobbs, PhD, LAc, research scientist, herbalist, author.