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ABC Publishes Crucial Quality Control Manual for Accurate Identification of Herbs and Herbal Products
ABC Publishes Crucial Quality Control Manual for Accurate Identification of Herbs and Herbal Products

The occasional misidentification of herbs can result in improper use and potential safety issues. As part of its educational mission to promote responsible use of medicinal plants the American Botanical Council (ABC) proudly announces its newest publication, a crucial quality control manual for herb and dietary supplement companies. The Identification of Medicinal Plants: A Handbook of the Morphology of Botanicals in Commerce focuses on the straightforward visual, macroscopic (examination under hand lens or dissecting microscope) identification of more than 150 species of botanicals used in commercial herbal products in North America.

Written by Wendy Applequist, PhD, a botanist at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG), the handbook is intended to provide widespread access to the information required for the accurate identification of medicinal plants. This will ensure availability to a wider group of quality control and laboratory technicians in the herb and dietary supplement industry, as well as botanists, medicinal plant collectors, researchers, students, and others.

“As an independent science-based educational organization, ABC is committed to helping make available resources that promote the highest quality herb and botanical preparations,” said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC. “Proper identity is the initial requirement for herbal quality, and this book will become a standard reference for all in the herb industry to help ensure optimum quality control for the greatest benefit to consumers.”

The handbook features 113 botanical entries covering more than 150 different species of botanicals in commerce, plus 87 detailed black-and-white line drawings. It also contains a brief review of basic plant structure, some practical advice on identification, an introduction to botanical nomenclature, a glossary, a reference list, and an index.

The first step in quality control of botanical preparations is ensuring the correct identification of the plant material intended for use. Detailed descriptions by Dr. Applequist, assistant curator at MBG, plus drawings by Barbara Alongi provide excellent guidance for properly, effectively, and efficiently identifying botanicals.

The book has already received accolades from numerous herbal experts in a variety of fields including academia, pharmacology, and numerous others, particularly those with experience in botanical identification in setting quality standards in the herb industry. James A. Duke, PhD, internationally noted herbal expert and author, said the new handbook is a “great book” containing “good science” and “good art” and that it is “very useful.”

“As a collector of books and articles on powder analysis and the nomenclature of medicinal plants, this book is a good accompaniment that pulls together information from a wide number of sources. Great job and a great addition to my bookshelf!” said Arthur O. Tucker, PhD, research professor and co-director of the Claude E. Phillips Herbarium at Delaware State University.

Josef A. Brinckmann, vice-president of research and development at Traditional Medicinals, a leading marketer of medicinal herbal teas, stated, “The botanical glossary, the detailed macroscopic descriptions including sensory characteristics, and the illustrations will make this an often-used handbook sitting alongside the pharmacopeias and other essential laboratory handbooks.”

Sidney Sudberg, a chiropractor and acupuncturist who now is director of Alkemists Pharamaceuticals, Inc., a third-party quality control and consulting laboratory for the herb industry said, “This book is indispensable to anyone who loves plants, and herbs in particular, and wants to know that they have the correct species. As a quality control professional interested in having as complete a picture as possible for accurate identification of herbs, this book is a necessity.”

The book retails for $89.95, with a discount for ABC members. ABC is currently taking advance orders and will begin shipping orders in October. To order now, call 800-373-7105 and request item #B539.

—Tara Hall

Book Data

The Identification of Medicinal Plants: A Handbook of the Morphology of Botanicals in Commerce by Wendy Applequist. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; 2006. Item #B539; Hardcover; 231 pp.; 87 B&W line drawings; $89.95. ISBN 10: 0-9655555-1-8; ISBN 13: 978-0-9655555-1-7