The American Botanical Council (ABC) continued to work tirelessly in 2015 to educate and inform the public about a wide variety of topics related to medicinal plants and other beneficial botanicals. ABC reaches individuals in more than 80 countries around the world using a diverse and effective array of educational services and platforms. These include numerous unique publications, an information-rich website, online databases, social media, lectures, consulting and research services, media education, an online bookstore, herbal demonstration gardens, events, and an internship program involving students from local universities. ABC’s activities serve consumers, health care practitioners, researchers, educators, professionals from all segments of the natural products and health industries, government employees, the media, and more.
New Publication Projects at ABC
2015 was the year for launching new publishing projects and series at ABC. In January, the nonprofit published its first Laboratory Guidance Document (LGD) on skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora, Lamiaceae) as part of the fast-growing and timely ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program. The skullcap document was followed by LGDs on bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus, Ericaceae) extract and black cohosh (Actaea racemosa, Ranunculaceae) root. Free to the public and available online, these LGDs summarize and evaluate existing analytical methods for determining the proper identity of herbs and botanical extracts and detecting known adulterants that may be present.
ABC also started a popular “Food as Medicine” article series, which is featured in the organization’s monthly newsletter, HerbalEGram. Each article is created with a university dietetic student completing her or his internship at ABC. (In 2015, ABC trained 14 dietetic and pharmacy interns from Texas State University and the University of Texas – Austin, respectively.) The articles focus on a common fruit, vegetable, or edible herb and explore the historical uses, health benefits, and nutrient profile of the food. A healthy recipe is also included in each article.
ABC also published its first herbal pet supplement market report this year. The report shows a 12% increase in sales in 2014 from 2013, indicating an upward trend in pet owners seeking herbal options for the health care of their animal companions.
Increased Media Education Efforts
ABC focused significant efforts in 2015 on responding to the actions of the New York attorney general. His misuse of DNA testing methodology, and subsequent misclassification of devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens, Pedaliaceae), sparked quick and concise responses from ABC. Using our in-depth knowledge of herbs and scientific best practices, ABC countered the New York attorney general’s erroneous information with thoughtful science-based press releases, media interviews (the Associated Press issued a story questioning his methods based on an ABC press release), plus letters to the editor, ABC member advisories, and more. In fact, we published what is probably the most detailed and comprehensive review of the situation in our summer issue of HerbalGram (issue 106).
New ABC Staff Members
In 2015, ABC was pleased to hire three new staff members: Candice Jensen, Connor Yearsley, and Skyler Passino.
Candice Jensen joined ABC in June 2015 as the new communications and marketing coordinator. Having worked at several other nonprofits, she brought with her a deep understanding of how nonprofits best function. Jensen also brought with her a wealth of technical savvy that is enabling her to help ABC improve its website, as well as other media and marketing efforts. She’s a wonderful addition to the ABC family.
Connor Yearsley became the newest assistant editor of HerbalGram in August 2015. Yearsley is a Baylor University graduate with a degree in business journalism and previous editorial experience with the Baylor Lariat and the Dallas, Texas-based D CEO magazine.
Skyler Passino became ABC’s assistant gardener in early 2015. He helps ensure the health and beauty of ABC’s 25+ herbal demonstration gardens. When he’s not working in the gardens, he is studying herbs and teaching yoga. He is also a trained EMT (emergency medical technician).
New ABC Award
At the 10th annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony in Anaheim, California, on March 5, 2015, ABC awarded its first ABC Champion Award. The recipient was supplement pioneer and longtime supporter and friend of ABC, Terry Lemerond. In addition to consistently supporting ABC’s educational efforts over the last 25 years, Lemerond is the founder and owner of EuroPharma and EuroMedica. Prior to creating those companies, he founded Enzymatic Therapy, Inc. and PhytoPharmica, both of which he sold in 2000.
New Adopt-an-Herb Program Participants
Ten new adopters joined the ABC Adopt-an-Herb Program in 2015. Their support helps ABC keep the records of the herbs they have adopted up-to-date in our HerbMedPro database. The result is increased public awareness and access to reliable, science-based information on these herbs. Adopters (and adoptees) are listed below in chronological order of adoption:
- Four Elements Herbals: Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis, Lamiaceae)
- Aromatics, Inc.: Peppermint (Mentha × piperita, Lamiaceae)
- Down Under Enterprises: Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia, Myrtaceae)
- Ortho Molecular: Elderberry (Sambucus nigra, Adoxaceae), nettle (Urtica dioica, Urticaceae), and black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa, Rosaceae)
- Amazing Herbs: Black cumin (Nigella sativa, Ranunculaceae)
- Schoenwetter Supplements: Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa, Rubiaceae)
- Brassica Protection Products: Broccoli (Brassica oleracea, Brassicaceae)
- Applied Food Sciences: Kava (Piper methysticum, Piperaceae)
- Afrigetics Botanicals: Bulbine natalensis, Xanthorrhoeaceae
- Indena: Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata, Burseraceae)
Published by ABC in 2015
In 2015, ABC published more than 400 articles, reviews, papers, and newsletters on topics and events that impacted the herbal community and beyond, including the following:
- HerbalGram, covering topics such as botanical taxonomy, herbal extracts for ADHD, the endocannabinoid system, and an Amazonian traditional medicine encyclopedia.
- 12 issues of HerbalEGram, ABC’s monthly e-newsletter featuring original articles, community and industry news, links to current media stories, information on recently published books, a calendar of upcoming events, and other news of interest.
- 360 HerbClips,summaries and/or critical reviews (15 produced twice monthly) of clinical trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses of controlled clinical trials, or other publications related to medicinal plants. In 2015, ABC published its 6,000th HerbClip!
- 51 issues of Herbal News & Events, which, in addition to media updates and book reviews, provides information and links to upcoming conferences, seminars, talks, and other events of interest to the herbal community around the world.
- 3 issues of the Botanical Adulterants Monitor, ABC’s newsletter providing insight into ongoing botanical adulteration issues, under the auspices of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program, of which ABC is the managing partner.
- 3 Laboratory Guidance Documents on skullcap, black cohosh, and bilberry fruit extract. Lab Guidance Documents help identify the most suitable analytical methods to authenticate botanical materials and/or detect adulteration, again under the auspices of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program.
These publications are a benefit of ABC membership. More information about how to become an ABC member, and thus support ABC’s educational efforts, is available by contacting ABC at (512) 926-4900 or email@example.com.
ABC is deeply grateful to its members and supporters worldwide, its dedicated employees, its contract writers and editors, and its amazing cadre of volunteers which includes, but is not limited to, the ABC Board of Trustees, the ABC Advisory Board, and Director Circle volunteers. Thank you for helping ensure that ABC’s scientific, research, and educational efforts continue to move forward as part of our unique nonprofit educational mission to increase the public’s awareness of the many benefits of herbs, phytomedicines, teas, essential oils, and other plant and fungal-based ingredients. It is a mission that can positively impact the health of the world and the people and animals in it, naturally.