AUSTIN, Texas (February 27, 2017) — The Society for Ethnopharmacology-India (SFE-India) has presented its “SFE – Outstanding International Ethnopharmacologist Award – 2017” to Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC). The award was given to Blumenthal at the annual meeting of the society and scientific conference in Surat, Gujarat, India, on February 23, 2017.
Ethnopharmacology is a branch of ethnobotany and pharmacology focused on the traditional knowledge and customs concerning medicinal substances, especially those of plant origin, and their use in traditional medicine. Ethnopharmacology pertains not only to traditional ethnobotany, but also to the modern scientific and clinical research investigating the safety and activity of historically used medicinal substances, particularly from plants and fungi. It also involves quality control of these substances as they are used in modern societies (e.g., as foods, dietary supplements, and/or drugs).
“SFE-India is happy to confer the ‘SFE – Outstanding International Ethnopharmacologist Award – 2017’ to Mark Blumenthal for his outstanding contributions to the fields of ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, and medicinal plant research,” wrote Professor Pulok Mukherjee, PhD, secretary of SFE and director of the School of Natural Product Studies at Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India.
Blumenthal has more than 45 years of experience in the fields of herb and medicinal plant education, research, publishing, quality control, regulation, market dynamics, and related areas. In addition to founding and directing ABC since 1988 and serving as editor-in-chief of the nonprofit’s peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram, which he launched in 1983, Blumenthal is the senior editor of three highly regarding reference books on medicinal plants and co-editor of two additional reference books. He is also editor-in-chief of ABC’s HerbClip series of summaries and critical reviews of thousands of clinical studies and other scientific publications on herbs, medicinal plants, phytomedicines, teas, essential oils, plant-based foods, and fungi.
Blumenthal has been active in the international herb community in the area of quality control and education on adulteration and fraud in botanical raw materials and extracts as founder and director of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program, an international educational program underwritten or endorsed by more than 180 responsible manufacturers of medicinal plant products, trade associations, societies of professional researchers and health professionals, analytical laboratories, university research centers, and other stakeholders. The Program is a partnership among ABC, the nonprofit American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), and the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR), which is a US Food and Drug Administration Center for Excellence for the analysis of botanical ingredients used in dietary supplements.
“I am deeply honored and grateful to receive this award that recognizes the international impact of the educational efforts of the American Botanical Council,” said Blumenthal in his acceptance of the award. “With professional, research, and industry members in over 80 countries, ABC is truly an international organization.”
“Medicinal plant research and quality control are international; they are not limited by political borders,” he continued. “Scientists share their information globally for the highest benefit to all humankind, and I am pleased that ABC’s educational publications and programs are valued by our professional colleagues in India, a country with a rich history and tradition of medicinal plant use and robust modern scientific research.”
ABC Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, added: “Mark Blumenthal has had a lifelong commitment to promote the responsible use of medicinal plants. The traditional use of medicinal plants by various cultures has always been one of his prime interests. Examples include the ABC-organized ecotours for pharmacists to learn about the “pharmacy of the rainforest” in Peru, Belize, Costa Rica, and parts of Africa. Mark is only the fourth recipient of this prestigious award, and I congratulate him for this well-deserved recognition of his contributions to the field of ethnopharmacology.”
Previous recipients of the award include Michael Heinrich, PhD, professor of pharmacognosy at the University College London; Geoffrey Cordell, PhD, retired professor emeritus of pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois-Chicago; and Robert Verpoorte, PhD, professor emeritus at Leiden University.
The Society for Ethnopharmacology-India, which is comprised of academicians, researchers, and members of the industry, works to disseminate knowledge for the promotion of ethnopharmacology and medicinal plants. In keeping with its mission of “Globalizing local knowledge and localizing global technologies,” SFE-India strives to provide an environment for knowledge-sharing among researchers, health care practitioners, and decision-makers interested in the promotion of ethnopharmacology and medicinal plants.