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HerbalGram and ABC Celebrate Important Milestones
As we go to press, we mark the 25th anniversary of HerbalGram. It was in July 1983 that Rob McCaleb and I wrote the first issue, which at that time was an 8-page newsletter we produced on behalf of the recently-created American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and Herb Research Foundation (HRF).

Rob and I were both founding board members of AHPA as well as co-founders and president and vice-president, respectively, of HRF. At the time Rob was director of research at Celestial Seasonings, the iconic herb tea pioneer, and I was running my now-defunct wholesale herb company, Sweethardt Herbs. Previously, I had been president of the also now-defunct Herb Trade Association, an industry trade group and predecessor of AHPA, for which I published a magazine called Herb News. HerbalGram followed as part of our intention to communicate news of interest to the herb community. Back then there was no Internet access, e-mail or blogging, and most publications in the natural products arena seldom covered topics related to herbs.

In 1988, after 5 years of publishing HerbalGram as a newsletter, I co-founded the American Botanical Council (with the aid of Dr. Jim Duke and Prof. Norman Farnsworth), initially to create a vehicle for refining HerbalGram (then 24-pages) into a full-color, Scientific American-like magazine/journal on herbs. In the subsequent years, ABC has obviously grown into an organization with a robust array of publications (e.g., HerbalEGram, HerbClip, monographs, books, etc.), and many unique educational projects.

During its history, HerbalGram has been ably produced by 3 managing editors—Barbara “BJ” Johnston (17 years), Karen Robin (3 years), and now, Michael Finney (5 years)—and by 5 art directors—Ira Kennedy, Ginger Hudson, Natalie Reitinger, Sean Barnes, and now Matt Magruder.

We also mark ABC’s 10th anniversary of our occupation at the historic Case Mill Homestead, our 2.5 acre headquarters in the home built in 1853. The original 451-acre homestead was initially granted to Sherman Case by the Republic of Texas in the early 1840s so he could build one of the first grist mills in the Austin-Travis County area. After a year of repairs and improvements, ABC moved into its new headquarters in July 1998.

This past July marked another milestone for ABC. In July 1998 ABC published The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines, a landmark publication for its time (now out of print after 3 printings), still available electronically as one of the many benefits available to ABC members on the ABC Web site (www.

Moving from history to the present, this issue of HerbalGram continues our emphasis on ethnobotany (the traditional intersections between plants and people) as well as our focus on the emerging science that evaluates and, in many cases, validates historical therapeutic uses of plants.

This issue profiles some plants sacred to Native Americans of the Southwest’s “Painted Desert” area of Arizona and the ethnobotanical conservation work of the Arizona Ethnobotanical Research Society. We also profile the marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea) and its oil, a revered and economically useful product in southern Africa.

Part of ABC’s evolution has included our highly successful internships for pharmacy and dietitian students from local and even distant universities. In 2006 Katie Welch interned at ABC while working on her doctorate in pharmacy from Oregon State University in Portland. She studied herbal medicine before attending pharmacy school, and her interest in herbs and natural medicine was readily apparent during her internship. For her intern project she studied herbs and their potential effects on various thyroid conditions, the results published herein as an extensive, peer-reviewed article reviewing the clinical evidence, or lack of it in some cases, for the use of herbs to treat various thyroid conditions and diseases.