The American Botanical Council (ABC) continues to enhance its efforts to improve healthcare and selfcare around the world by promoting the responsible use of herbs, essential oils, teas, other beneficial botanicals, and fungi.
ABC reaches people in 81 countries around the world using a diverse and effective array of educational services, which include unique publications, an information-rich website, online databases, social media, lectures, media education, consulting and research services, an online bookstore, herbal demonstration gardens, an internship program with local universities, and events. ABC’s activities serve consumers, healthcare practitioners, researchers, educators, professionals from all segments of the natural products and health industries, government employees, the media, and more.
Below is a brief look at some of ABC’s accomplishments and activities in 2014.
Two New Publications
In 2014, ABC created two new publications — the “US Tea Market Report” and the “Botanical Adulterants Monitor,” a service associated with ABC’s management of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program.
As a corollary to its extremely popular Herb Market Report, ABC created its first-ever US Tea Market Report in response to the increasing popularity of tea (Camellia sinensis, Theaceae) in the United States. As the Report shows, sales of tea — the second most-consumed beverage in the world after water — were up 5.9% in 2013.
In June, ABC released the first issue of the Botanical Adulterants Monitor. As an integral new part of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program, this online newsletter focuses on issues related to botanical adulteration, including study reviews, regulatory updates, laboratory methodologies and findings, and more. To date, two issues of the Botanical Adulterants Monitor have been published, and four more will be published in 2015.
These two new publications were added to ABC’s expanding library of reliable, science-based, high-quality educational materials. Other ABC publications in 2014 included the following:
- Four issues of the quarterly publication HerbalGram. Topics covered included: the German kava (Piper methysticum, Piperaceae) ban reversal, the 2013 Herb Market Report, wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, Araliaceae) conservation, criteria for evaluating herbal supplement clinical trials, the “Ethnobotany of Warfare,” and a Research Review on amla (Phyllanthus emblica, Phyllanthaceae) extract for type 2 diabetes, to name just a few.
- 12 issues of the monthly publication HerbalEGram. This popular e-magazine includes original articles by ABC staff, updates on community news, links to current media stories and events, and a featured book section.
- 360 HerbClips. ABC publishes 15 HerbClips twice per month containing critical reviews and/or summaries of recent clinical trials and articles of interest to the herbal community.
- 51 issues of the weekly Herbal News & Events.In addition to providing information on upcoming conferences, webinars, seminars, and other events, this publication provides samples of media updates, HerbClips, and books available for purchase through ABC’s e-Store.
Increased International Involvement
In 2014, ABC added 10 international experts to its Advisory Board. The Advisory Board provides peer review, advice, and feedback on ABC activities including publications. These new international Advisory Board members represent a variety of scientific fields including ethnobotany, pharmacy, chemistry, pharmacognosy, and others.
The ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program was pleased to receive new endorsements from several international organizations in 2014. Both the International Alliance on Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) and the world’s largest medicinal plant research group — the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA) — joined other international organizations in announcing their support for the Program. By early 2015, the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, the British Herbal Medicine Association, and Natural Products New Zealand had officially endorsed the Program.
Ongoing ABC Educational Activities
In 2014, ABC issued 19 press releases and fielded approximately 36 separate media requests. As a reliable and independent third-party organization, ABC plays an important educational role in helping the media better understand and interpret the science of studies on herbs and other beneficial botanicals. ABC’s press releases often attempt to bring clarity to complicated issues such as the January 2014 report on preliminary research that kava might prevent lung cancer in smokers, which was based on a study in mice.
Lectures are another important element of ABC’s educational mission. In 2014, ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal delivered 31 lectures on topics including botanical adulteration and other quality control issues, regulation, and more. These lectures took him all over the United States and to England, South Korea, and Singapore. Other ABC staff presented an additional 10 educational lectures on specific herbs, the role and use of herbal medicine, and botanical adulteration.
Last year, ABC’s internship program provided training for 17 pharmacy and dietetic interns from sixth-year pharmacy school and graduate dietetic programs, respectively. For many of these students, ABC’s internship was their introduction to the science behind botanicals and herbal medicine. ABC interns engage with herbal professionals, research herbal topics, and work in the herbal demonstration gardens at ABC’s headquarters in Austin, Texas. Each intern also researches and prepares a “Food as Medicine” or “Garden Apothecary” presentation covering an herb or herbal topic of their choice.
People & Positions
In 2014, ABC was pleased to welcome Hannah Bauman as the new assistant editor of HerbalGram. Hannah brought with her a unique knowledge of maritime archeology, a passion for creative writing, experience as a copy and technical editor, and a thirst for learning. She has used those talents to create numerous original articles for ABC publications, and recently became HerbalGram’s book review and obituary editor.
Brian Armstrong joined ABC in 2014 as an executive assistant primarily supporting Blumenthal. Brian’s background as an English, math, and science teacher in South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Thailand has helped him manage the many diverse aspects of his job. Also essential to his job success is a sense of humor. Fortunately, as a stand-up comedian, he has an abundant supply.
Tom Newmark was elected the new ABC Board of Trustees president in late 2014. His experience in the commercial sector with New Chapter and 6Pacific Group, as well as his experience with nonprofits such as Greenpeace and his new organization The Carbon Underground, will serve Tom well in his new role with ABC.
Milestones and Awards
In July, ABC published the 500th issue of HerbClip. As a service to its members, ABC publishes HerbClip twice per month. Each HerbClip contains 15 summaries of studies and articles — often with insightful critiques — making it easier to stay up to date on research findings relevant to the herbal community.
ABC was honored to receive Nutrition Business Journal’s 2013 Education Achievement Award (the second time ABC has received this honor). ABC was chosen in part for its educational efforts through the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program and for publishing 100 issues of its acclaimed journal, HerbalGram.
Each year at the ABC Celebration in Anaheim, California, held in conjunction with Natural Products Expo West, the nonprofit presents its own awards recognizing excellence in the herbal community. In 2014, ABC presented the James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award to co-authors Kerry Bone and Simon Mills for their revised and updated clinical practice guide, Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine, 2nd ed. Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd. of Osaka, Japan, received the ABC Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award. Gordon M. Cragg, PhD, was awarded the ABC Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award, and Sara Katz was the recipient of the second-ever Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award.
Forecast for 2015
ABC will continue to publish its ongoing high-quality resources and operate its unique and essential programs in 2015. In addition, ABC will accomplish the following:
- Publish Laboratory Guidance Documents. These documents summarize and evaluate existing lab analytical methods for determining authenticity and potential adulteration of herbs covered by the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program. The goal is to provide laboratory and quality control directors another tool to prevent adulterated botanical raw materials and extracts. (The first document on skullcap [Scutellaria lateriflora, Lamiaceae] was released in January 2015.)
- Publish Botanical Adulterants Bulletins. These short, two-to-three page advisories will alert the herb industry, and the community at-large, to the presence of confirmed adulterated botanical raw materials and/or extracts.
- Publish a laboratory methods booklet. This booklet will review and explain for non-chemists how to better understand laboratory methods for analysis of botanical materials and extracts.
- Publish the ABC Solvents Reference Book. This highly anticipated book will include a comprehensive listing of most or all solvents used in the botanical extracts industry. It will be available in both PDF and hard copy.
- Publish new ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program articles. Forthcoming articles will address specific herbs with confirmed, and common, adulterants. Several articles currently are underway and in various stages of review.
All of the staff at ABC thanks ABC members for their contributions and commitment to helping ensure ABC’s success. More information on supporting ABC’s educational nonprofit mission, becoming a member, joining the Adopt-an-Herb Program, or making a donation, is available by contacting ABC at 512-926-4900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.