On May 25, 2021, the American Botanical Council (ABC) presented six Botanical Excellence Awards during its 16th annual ABC Celebration and Botanical Excellence Awards ceremony, which, for the first time, was held virtually and livestreamed on ABC’s YouTube channel. The one-hour program is available for on-demand streaming on ABC’s website and YouTube channel.
The event celebrated some of the accomplishments of the nonprofit education organization in its 33rd year and honored the six new recipients of the Botanical Excellence Awards, which were started in 2006. Recipients are chosen based on their outstanding contributions to the herbal and botanical communities.
“As a science-based research and education organization, ABC attempts to keep current with the explosive amount of human clinical research that is published each year,” said Mark Blumenthal, ABC’s founder and executive director. “ABC’s Botanical Excellence Awards are given to individuals and businesses that are committed to excellence in expanding the scientific research on herbs, medicinal plants, phytomedicines, medicinal fungi, and other natural products with potential therapeutic value.”
ABC’s Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, commented: “Many companies and individuals contribute to the blossoming of the botanical ingredient and dietary supplement industry by performing impressive research, educating the public with noteworthy books, or bringing the community closer together. It is one of the greatest privileges at ABC to honor a few of those individuals and organizations every year.”
Christopher Hobbs’s Medicinal Mushrooms Receives ABC Duke Award
The ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award is presented to books that contribute significantly to the medicinal plant-related literature and the fields of botany, taxonomy, ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, phytomedicine, mycology, and other related disciplines. The award is named for well-known botanist and author James A. Duke, PhD, who died in 2017.
The Duke Award for 2020 was presented to Christopher Hobbs, PhD, director of the Institute for Natural Products Research, for his book Christopher Hobbs’s Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide: Boost Immunity, Improve Memory, Fight Cancer, Stop Infection, Expand Your Consciousness (Storey Publishing, 2020).
Hobbs is a fourth-generation, internationally renowned clinical herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, mycologist, research scientist, legal consultant, and natural products industry consultant. He earned his PhD in phylogenetics, evolutionary biology, and phytochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild.
Hannah Bauman, HerbalGram associate editor, presented the award to Hobbs. “Hobbs’ work was chosen for its consumer-friendly approach to the field of mycology, with scientific and clinical research presented in a creative and informative way and featuring beautiful photography throughout,” she said. “In Medicinal Mushrooms, he strives to answer the question of how fungi affect and promote human health and studies the ancient interaction between fungi and humans. … Christopher Hobbs blends a love of [fungi] with an inquisitive nature and supports tradition with science in a clear, concise, and passionate way. He has succeeded in creating an accessible book for readers at every level of interest.”
In his acceptance speech, Hobbs said: “I wanted to make this book a practical guide featuring medicine making, growing, choosing commercial products, and the importance of quality, combining the folklore and traditional uses with a thorough review of the scientific literature and especially [the] clinical trials available for each species. I hope it can inspire a love of mushrooms and the preservation of their habitats, especially the old growth forests and trees of which they are an integral part.”
Paula N. Brown Receives ABC Farnsworth Award
The ABC Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award is given for significant research contributions in the fields of pharmacognosy, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, or other scientific disciplines related to medicinal plants. It is named for the late Norman R. Farnsworth, PhD, a world-renowned pharmacognosist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The 2020 Farnsworth Award was given to Paula N. Brown, PhD, director of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s (BCIT’s) Natural Health and Food Products Research Group, which has actively supported the natural health products industry for more than a decade through applied research activities, including product development, establishment of quality standards, analytical methods, and regulatory compliance. Brown is on numerous boards, committees, and working groups in Canada and the United States, including the ABC Advisory Board.
Joseph Betz, PhD, acting director of the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, presented the award to Brown. “Paula has published validated analytical methods for a number of dietary supplement ingredients, including ginseng [Panax spp., Araliaceae], echinacea [Echinacea spp., Asteraceae], and many others … and has more publications of supplement ingredient methods in AOAC International’s Official Methods of Analysis than any other author that I know,” he said.
In her acceptance speech, Brown said: “I want to acknowledge a few colleagues: … Susan Murch, who told me if I want to study plants, I better get out my rainboots and get out there … and Mary Hardy, last year’s ABC Fredi Kronenberg Award winner, who reminds me, as I go down my rabbit hole of chemistry, that this is about health. It’s about educating and facilitating the responsible use of botanical medicines for improved health and wellness.… Everything that I have achieved here at BCIT has been with the support, hard work, and dedication of my group, many of [whom] have been with me for close two decades. I thank all of them, because they are part of this award, as well.”
Swedish Herbal Institute Receives ABC Tyler Award
The ABC Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award is awarded to a botanical ingredient, dietary supplement, and/or phytomedicinal products company that makes a strong investment in human clinical research to support the authenticity, safety, and efficacy of its ingredients or products. The award is named for the late professor of pharmacognosy and author Varro E. Tyler, PhD, who was dean of the College of Pharmacy at Purdue University for 20 years and vice president of academic affairs at Purdue.
The 2020 Tyler Award was presented to the Swedish Herbal Institute (SHI) and SHI Founder and Chairman Georg Wikman. Wikman founded SHI in 1975 to gather knowledge about medicinal plants from many parts of the world, promote scientific research on these plants, and develop pharmaceutical-quality phytomedicines. His work has led to collaborations with several prestigious universities as well as the Russian space program, and SHI’s phytomedicines were used on the Mir space station.
Gafner, who presented the award, said: “ABC has chosen SHI because of the company’s exceptional commitment to scientific and clinical research on the therapeutic effects of several botanical ingredients, most notably andrographis [Andrographis paniculata, Acanthaceae] and rhodiola [Rhodiola rosea, Crassulaceae]. The company has initiated and supported over 30 clinical studies since 1995. SHI’s clinical work has significantly added to the foundation for the evidence-based medicinal use of both andrographis and rhodiola, leading to effective phytotherapeutic agents in the areas of upper respiratory infections, stress-related fatigue, and mild forms of depression.”
In his acceptance speech, Wikman said: “I want to thank ABC and Mark Blumenthal, a friend of mine for more than 40 years, for recognizing the Swedish Herbal Institute’s pioneering clinical research on adaptogens [substances that increase the state of non-specific resistance to stress]. SHI has focused on two issues: the mode of action and synergy between adaptogens. The main research has been on rhodiola, schisandra [Schisandra chinensis, Schisandraceae], eleutherococcus [Eleutherococcus senticosus, Araliaceae], andrographis, and lately, also on Leuzea carthamoides [Asteraceae].
“We appreciate ABC’s recognition of our early research on rhodiola [and] acknowledgement of SHI’s fixed combination KanJang®, [which is] based on eleutherococcus and the adaptogen andrographis [and] has demonstrated a significant effect on upper respiratory tract infections,” Wikman continued. “Our current focus is on the application of adaptogens [for] COVID-19-related issues.”
Wikman added: “I personally believe that this award is yet another milestone on the road to … acceptance of adaptogens as important health promoters, on the same footing as vitamins, trace elements, and antioxidants.”
Tori Hudson Receives ABC Kronenberg Award
The ABC Fredi Kronenberg Excellence in Research and Education in Botanicals for Women’s Health Award is presented to a researcher, educator, or clinician who furthers the scientific study and clinical use of medicinal plants and phytomedicines for women’s health conditions.
The 2020 Kronenberg Award was presented to Tori Hudson, ND, medical director of A Woman’s Time natural health care clinic, program director of the Institute of Women’s Health and Integrative Medicine, and an adjunct clinical professor at Bastyr University, the National University of Natural Medicine, and the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences.
Mary Hardy, MD, the recipient of the 2019 Kronenberg Award, presented the award to Hudson. “Dr. Tori Hudson is a uniquely appropriate honoree,” Hardy said. “Dr. Hudson has devoted her 35-plus-year career as a naturopath to women’s health as a researcher, clinician, and educator. She has had a leading role in educating naturopaths about primary and specialty natural care of women.… She has won a number of prestigious awards during her career …. She has published broadly, both in the lay and professional press on [many] aspects of women’s care.”
In her acceptance speech, Hudson said: “I first met Fredi Kronenberg in the earliest days of the development of the [Office of Alternative Medicine] at the National Institutes of Health, which … is currently called the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. At these meetings, Fredi was incredibly kind, inclusive, and collaborative toward me and others, and she was innovative, intellectually impressive, and consistently productive in her research and academic activities, especially in regard to botanicals, integrative medicine, and women’s health: three pillars of my professional and clinical career, as well.
“Thank you, Fredi, for befriending me and letting me learn from you and alongside you, even though it was for far too short a time,” Hudson continued. “May the plants be with you, and may the plants be with us all for a very, very long time.”
Jerry Cott Receives ABC Champion Award
The ABC Champion Award recognizes individuals who have been outstanding supporters of ABC and who have helped the organization promote and achieve its nonprofit research and educational mission, whether through monetary support or contributions of their time.
The 2020 award was presented to Jerry Cott, PhD, a retired senior pharmacologist for the US Food and Drug Administration.
Lori Glenn, managing editor of ABC’s HerbClip, who presented the award to Cott, said: “As a neuropsychopharmacologist, Jerry has researched the use of dietary supplements for psychiatric indications as well as the integration of mainstream psychiatry and nutritional and botanical interventions. ABC is recognizing Jerry for providing long-term academic and professional expertise as a peer reviewer of a wide range of publications that deal with psychopharmacology. Jerry has been the primary peer reviewer of many articles for ABC’s flagship publication, HerbalGram, as well as a myriad of HerbClip summaries of clinical trials and research articles. Jerry has reviewed other publications for ABC as well, including chapters of The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs.”
In his acceptance speech, Cott said: “Before I met Mark [Blumenthal], I was a simple neuropsychopharmacologist at the NIMH [National Institute of Mental Health] in the early ’90s. I’d started a natural products research program to try to interest the drug people in searching for kinder and gentler treatments for mental health disorders…. I’d never actually met any herbalists…. That changed at an American Herbalists Guild meeting in West Virginia in 1994.… That same year, I met the famous ethnobotanist James Duke at an NIMH meeting that I had invited him to, and Jim, together with Mark, had quite an impact on my life.… I want to thank the warm community at ABC for accepting a non-herbalist into their confidence…. It is a great honor to be with you and accept this award today.”
Michael McGuffin Receives ABC Herbal Community Builder Award
The ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award honors individuals who have played a significant role in creating a sense of community among herbalists, botanical researchers, members of the herb and natural products communities and industries, and others who work in the various areas of medicinal and aromatic plants.
The 2020 Herbal Community Builder Award was given to Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). McGuffin has been president of AHPA since 1999 and active in the herbal industry since 1974, having owned both retail and manufacturing businesses in this field. He is a leading expert on dietary supplement regulation and has been published extensively in scholarly and scientific journals. McGuffin has represented the herbal industry at state and federal hearings on herbal regulatory issues and has served as a member or on the advisory boards of many working groups, committees, and related organizations.
Blumenthal, who presented the eponymous award to McGuffin, said: “[Michael] is a master of important details on a wide spectrum of significant [subjects that are] necessary for the success of small, medium, and large herb [businesses]. Without his strong and seemingly tireless energy and leadership, it is questionable that the herb industry in the United States would be as successful, and as large, as it is today.”
In his acceptance speech, McGuffin said: “I must share credit with the remarkable and talented AHPA staff…. Each of them is actively engaged in building community, not only within the AHPA membership but more broadly among practicing herbalists, botanical researchers, and all those involved in the herb and natural products industry. The AHPA board of trustees also deserves to share this award. The board has, for years, strongly advocated for collaboration and cooperation with the other organizations that represent the herbal products industry. This not only helps us get our work done more effectively, but it’s clearly an opportunity to build community.”
The 16th annual American Botanical Council Celebration and Botanical Excellence Awards ceremony was made possible by the generous support of Alkemist Labs, Amin Talati Wasserman, ChromaDex, Euromed, EuroPharma, Horphag Research, Indena, Informa Markets, MegaFood, New Chapter, NOW Health Group, RT Specialty, United Natural Products Alliance, and Verdure Sciences.