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American Botanical Council: 2018 Year in Review

In 2018, the American Botanical Council (ABC) celebrated many milestones and launched new projects to advance its nonprofit mission to educate the public and other stakeholders about diverse topics related to medicinal plants and other beneficial botanicals. As a recognized leader in the field of responsible, science-based herbal medicine education, ABC’s efforts in 2018 — including the launch of its newest partnership, the Sustainable Herbs Program — impacted community members both locally and internationally.

ABC’s educational services and platforms reach individuals in more than 80 countries. These include numerous unique publications, an information-rich and constantly growing website, online databases, social media, lectures, consulting and research services, media education outreach, an online bookstore, herbal demonstration gardens, educational events, and an internship program for graduating pharmacy and dietetic students. The organization’s activities serve those in the herbal community, including consumers, health care practitioners, academic researchers, educators, professionals from all segments of the natural products and health industries, government employees, the media, and more.

ABC Anniversaries

On November 1, 2018, ABC celebrated its 30th anniversary as a nonprofit organization. ABC is deeply grateful to the many individuals, companies, and organizations that helped make this possible through their support throughout the years.

ABC plans to continue the celebration of its 30th anniversary throughout 2019 with special announcements and opportunities for the public to show its support. ABC board, staff, and supporters already are making plans for how to advance ABC’s unique and essential nonprofit educational mission for the next 30 years.

Other ABC milestones in 2018 included the 35th anniversary of HerbalGram, the 25th anniversary of ABC’s HerbClip program, and the publication of its 7,000th HerbClip summary/critique of clinical studies and related botanical science publications. In 2018, ABC also celebrated 20 years at its historic Case Mill Homestead in Austin, Texas.

New Projects, Programs, and Awards

The Sustainable Herbs Program (SHP) partnership was launched by ABC on November 1, 2018. This educational and inspirational program and its video-rich website ( focus on promoting a responsible, sustainable, and regenerative herb supply chain. It does this by creating and disseminating tools and resources for the international herb and medicinal plant communities, including those involved at every point along the herb supply chain.

The ABC-American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP)-National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP) had a stellar year in 2018. It published its 47th peer-reviewed document and released a draft of “Best Practices Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Disposal or Destruction of Irreparably Defective Articles.” This SOP draft provides boilerplate supply contract language to help ensure that, through appropriate industry self-regulation, the supply chain is rid of defective ingredients that are irreparable and not acceptable for consumer products. All of the BAPP’s publications are freely available to the public after registration at

ABC awarded its inaugural Fredi Kronenberg Excellence in Botanicals for Women’s Health Award to Tieraona Low Dog, MD. The award was named after long-time ABC Board of Trustee Member Fredi Kronenberg, PhD, who died in 2017. Kronenberg’s distinguished professional life focused on the study of using medicinal plants and phytomedicines for women’s health.

In 2018, it was also announced that Gayle Engels, ABC’s special projects director, will receive The Herb Society of America’s (HSA’s) inaugural Madalene Hill Award for Excellence in Herbal Education. Engels, who has been with ABC since 1995, will receive the award because of her “passion for promoting the knowledge, ‘use and delight’ of herbs through educational activities.”

New Adopt-an-Herb Program Participants

In 2018, the 63rd herb was adopted on ABC’s HerbMedPro database through the ABC Adopt-an-Herb Program. The support of adopters helps ABC keep the records of adopted herbs up to date in its HerbMedPro database. The result is increased public awareness and access to reliable, science-based information on these and other herbs.

ABC recognized the following six adoptions in 2018: propolis, attributed to Friends of the Honey Bee; EpiCor® Fermentate by Embria Health Sciences; pomegranate (Punica granatum, Lythraceae) by Verdure Sciences; lemon balm (Melissa officinalis, Lamiaceae) by Four Elements, grape (Vitis vinifera, Vitaceae) by Natac, and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens, Arecaceae) by Valensa.

In 2018, ABC also:

  • Published its 2017 US Herb Market Report, which showed an 8.5% increase in total herbal supplement retail sales from the previous year.
  • Awarded six Botanical Excellence Awards to individuals and companies for their valuable contributions to the herbal and botanical community.
  • Published four issues of HerbalGram, 12 issues of HerbalEGram, 51 issues of Herbal News & Events, 360 HerbClips, five Botanical Adulterants Prevention Bulletins, three Laboratory Guidance Documents, and three Botanical Adulterants Monitor newsletters.
  • Issued 30 press releases and fielded more than 31 media requests. As a reliable third-party educational resource, ABC helps the media develop a more rational understanding and/or interpretation of scientific, regulatory, and market data.
  • Trained six pharmacy and dietetic interns from sixth-year pharmacy school and graduate dietetic programs. Many of these interns were introduced to the science behind botanicals, herbal medicine, and various fruits, vegetables, culinary herbs, and spices for the first time for potential inclusion in their future practices.
  • Hosted more than 700 visitors at its historic 2.5-acre headquarters throughout the year. These visitors included children, seniors, college students (including medical and nursing students), garden clubs, herbalists, health care providers, and other interested members of the local community. There was also a strong turnout at ABC’s annual HerbDay celebration in May.

—ABC Staff