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HerbalEGram's Top 10 Most Popular Articles of 2014

It has been more than a decade since the American Botanical Council (ABC) launched its digital flagship publication, HerbalEGram, in February 2004. The monthly online magazine, which enters its 12th year next month, provides in-depth news and feature articles as well as expert insights from guest contributors, excerpts from recent herbal medicine-related books, noteworthy industry, regulatory, and community developments, and general media highlights from the previous month, among other items.

In the past year, HerbalEGram continued to evolve with the addition of a new recurring Food as Medicine feature, a renewed focus on timely, original articles, and minor layout changes following the e-magazine’s significant redesign in 2013. Notably, in March 2014, just before Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California, ABC published the 100th issue of HerbalEGram, which featured articles on ABC’s Botanical Excellence Awards recipients.

HerbalEGram staff and contributors reported on a number of diverse topics in 2014  from a critique of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s second medical cannabis documentary on CNN, in April’s issue, to the turbulent market for Peruvian maca (Lepidium meyenii) caused by Chinese smugglers reported on in December. Included below are the top 10 HerbalEGram stories from the past year. Of the 49 articles published in 2014, these represent the most popular stories as determined by number of recorded clicks by HerbalEGram readers.

HerbalEGram is a benefit of ABC membership at all membership levels. The editorial staff looks forward to continuing to provide ABC members with timely, unique, and relevant content in the coming year as part of ABC’s mission to increase the quality and quantity of responsible, science-based information on the use of herbal medicine, and other plant- and fungal-based ingredients.

To submit questions, comments, or other feedback, please contact HerbalEGram Editor Tyler Smith at

The 10 most popular HerbalEGram articles of 2014, in descending order of the most read:

  1. Drug Produced Using Tobacco Plants May Offer Hope for Ebola Victims
    By Tyler Smith

    The most-clicked HerbalEGram article of 2014, on experimental plant-derived drugs for Ebola virus disease, was published in October, one week after the first Ebola case was diagnosed in the United States. The article focused on the promise of and science behind ZMapp™, a biosynthetic drug produced in the leaves of a low-nicotine species of tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana), as well as the US Food and Drug Administration’s actions against companies purporting plant-based and non-herbal Ebola “cures.” Read more>>

  2. A Review and Critique of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Weed 2: Cannabis Madness on CNN
    By Ash Lindstrom

    In April, as part of ABC's continuing coverage of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's medicinal cannabis (Cannabis spp.) documentaries, HerbalGram Editor Ash Lindstrom presented a critical review of Weed 2: Cannabis Madness, which CNN aired in early March. Through interviews with well-known cannabis experts, Lindstrom offered thoughtful criticisms while acknowledging the importance of Dr. Gupta’s ongoing coverage of and advocacy for acceptance of legitimate medical uses of cannabis. Read more>>

  3. How Do We Save Wild American Ginseng?
    By Robert Beyfuss, Guest Contributor

    Prompted by the ginseng poaching reality TV series “Appalachian Outlaws,” which aired on the History Channel in January 2014, former New York State Specialist for American Ginseng Robert Beyfuss discussed the most-pressing issues with — and potential solutions to — current American ginseng (Panax quinquefoliusconservation regulations in February’s HerbalEGram. Read more >>

  4. HerbalEGram's Top 10 Most Popular Articles of 2013
    By ABC Staff
    The first annual summary of the previous year’s most-clicked HerbalEGram articles was one of the 2014’s most popular articles. The top 10 articles from 2013 covered topics ranging from grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) research to the effects of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) on natural medicine practice. Read more >>

  5. Star-Crossed: The Rise and Fall of Anatabloc®
    By Tyler Smith
    In September, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife were convicted on 11 federal charges for their involvement with Jonnie Williams Sr., the founder of the dietary supplement company Star Scientific, which produced supplements with anatabine, a compound found in the tobacco plant. The article details the history of the company, regulatory concerns, and the McDonnell’s legal proceedings. The former governor recently was sentenced to two years in prison for his crimes. Read more>>

  6. Maca Madness: Chinese Herb Smugglers Create Chaos in the Peruvian Andes
    By Tyler Smith
    Maca, which thrives at elevations of up to 15,000 feet in the Andes, is a treasured heritage product of Peru, where regulations prevent the unprocessed herb from being exported. Driven by unprecedented demand for the plant, Chinese nationals arrived in the maca-growing regions in early 2014, illegally purchasing and smuggling large quantities of the crop out of Peru. The situation turned from volatile to violent, as "Medicine Hunter" Chris Kilham explained in a special accompanying video report. Read more>>

  7. Residual Methanol in Botanical Dietary Ingredients — Perspectives of a Manufacturer
    By Deepak Mundkinajeddu, PhD, and Amit Agarwal, PhD, Guest Contributors
    Methanol is considered to be an efficient organic solvent that frequently is used for the extraction of medicinal plant compounds. Trace amounts of solvents known as residual solvents, as the guest authors explained in August, inevitably remain in finished standardized herbal extracts. This article explored existing standards and regulations for acceptable levels of residual methanol in botanical products and naturally occurring sources of the compound in food, beverages, and plants. Read more>>

  8. Dr. Oz's “Miracle” Herbal Weight-Loss Products: The Senate Hearing, Advertising Regulations, and Science Behind the Claims
    By Tyler Smith
    In June, Mehmet Oz, MD, was criticized for his role in promoting weight-loss products with limited safety and/or efficacy data at a Senate hearing on deceptive weight-loss ads. The article explores the testimony of various natural products industry representatives, some of whom called for increased enforcement of existing federal regulations and voluntary support of industry self-regulatory programs. Read more>>

  9. German Court Ruling Reverses Kava Ban; German Regulatory Authority Appeals Decision
    By Mathias Schmidt, PhD, Guest Contributor
    In June 2014, the market status of German kava (Piper methysticum)-containing products was restored after an administrative court ruled that the 2002 “ban” by the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) was based on improper procedure. In July’s HerbalEGram, German-based medicinal plant specialist Dr. Mathias Schmidt offered a comprehensive overview of past and present legal and regulatory actions for kava products in Germany, including BfArM's appeal of the court's decision. Read more>>

  10. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia Publishes Historic Monograph on Cannabis
    By Tyler Smith
    The January 2014 issue of HerbalEGram featured an article on the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia’s publication of an extensive quality standards monograph for cannabis — the first formal cannabis monograph to be released in more than 70 years. Read more >>