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Greetings! We are pleased to launch the American Botanical Council’s e-newsletter, HerbalEGram, a new benefit for all ABC members. HerbalEGram will help keep you current on late-breaking news and to guide you to key information on the ABC website and elsewhere. Initially, this newsletter will be quarterly, scheduled to come to you between each issue of HerbalGram. This newsletter is for you, so please let us know what you find useful and how we can improve it. Please send your suggestions and comments to HerbalEGram.

ABC Herbal Information Course

ABC recently launched a new online course that provides retailers, practitioners, and others who recommend herbs a background on herbal supplements, specific information on 29 of the most popular herbs in the U.S. market, and guidance on how to converse with customers about herbs. Candidates who successfully complete the course will be certified as an Herbal Information Specialist (HIS) for one year. Pricing is available for individuals and for multiple participants. To learn more about the course, visit


You should be receiving your new issue of HerbalGram (#61) very soon. (It was shipped on February 4th.) We’re excited to be able to give you access to the complete issue before you actually receive it in your mailbox. As usual, it is full of information, including an announcement of the upcoming Botanical Medicines from the Amazon and Machu Picchu Tour set for October 2004, a discussion of bills being promoted in congress to deal with regulation of herbs and other dietary supplements, and the evaluation of a recent clinical study that states that hawthorn extract does not appear to interact with the cardiac medication digoxin. See more at

One article of particular note in this issue is on sage (Salvia spp.). Recent research on the oil of a particular species of sage has lead to the exploration of its possibilities for helping those with Alzheimer’s disease. Read about the research into this potential new use in this feature article in HerbalGram #61. Activity and Constituents of Sage Relevant to the Potential Treatment of Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Stump the Herbalist

Going to Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA, March 4-7? Don’t miss Stump the Herbalist, Thursday, March 4 (2:30-3:45pm) in Room 207C, Anaheim Convention Center. ABC Executive Director Mark Blumenthal will be the "quizmaster" for this wild and crazy educational session where participating herbalists, Christopher Hobbs, LAc, Director of Herbal Formulation, Rainbow Light; Ed Smith, Founder, Herb Pharm; Mindy Green, Clinical Aromatherapist, Aveda; and Roy Upton, Executive Director, American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, will be quizzed on aromatherapy, herbal history, nomenclature, therapeutics, regulatory issues, and more. 
Comments from attendees at the previous Stump the Herbalist at Natural Products Expo East 2003 include: "Fun way to learn herbal trivia." "Very dynamic!" and "Good info."

Herbal News

ABC Letter in USA Today. On January 6, 2004, USA Today ran an editorial containing misleading and erroneous statements about 6 herbs. The following letter was written by ABC founder and executive director, Mark Blumenthal, Norman R. Farnsworth, Ph.D. of the University of Illinois, and Richard Kingston, PharmD, of Prosar International in response to that editorial. USA Today published a slightly edited version on Monday, January 12, 2004, listing only Mark as the author.

In the wake of the FDA’s announcement on December 30, 2003, that it planned to ban dietary supplements containing ephedra, ABC was contacted by many news media for background information, comments, and interviews. Mark Blumenthal’s "Dear Reader"column in the upcoming issue of HerbalGram summarizes the results of these interviews.

German Commission E Moves to Clarify Possible Pharmacokinetic Interactions with Botanical Medicines

On January 21, BfArM (the German Federal Institutes for Drugs and Medical Devices) posted the following notice on its website:

"In the last few years, interactions between botanical medicines and other drugs have been gaining increasing public awareness. In view of the increasing number of scientific publications concerning pharmacokinetic interactions with phytomedicines, the Commission E and BfArM [the German Federal Institutes for Drugs and Medical Devices] are compelled to develop a procedure for how to handle this information in the context of product licensing, license renewals and license extensions for phytomedicinal products. Moreover, strategies have been described that can be utilized to compensate for the information gaps in this area.

"Supplementary to these recommendations is a commentary [11-page] on suitable models for the assessment of phytomedicines, if necessary, along with an attachment [10-page] containing a bibliography of the primary and secondary literature sources that were consulted by the Commission on the topic of in vitro interactions.

"There is an opportunity to comment on the draft recommendations up until 16 April 2004. In the event that your statements should reference other literature sources, we request that you include a copy. Please direct your comments to:

Bundesinstitut fr Arzneimittel
FG 213
Kurt-Georg-Kiesinger-Allee 3
53175 Bonn" [posted Jan 21, 2004]

ABC is grateful to Josef Brinckmann, Vice President of Research and Development at Traditional Medicinals, for translating this information for the benefit of ABC members.


Recently posted HerbClip critical reviews include one addressing the problems involved with and possible solutions for research on traditional plants, "Setting Research Priorities for Wild and Potentially Threatened Herbs" as well as a "Review of Echinacea’s Medicinal Properties" .

Members of ABC at the Academic level and above have access to HerbClip Online, a searchable database of more than 2200 critical reviews of contemporary literature. To find out more about HerbClip Online, to see what is in the current bin, or to view more than 50 free samples, visit HerbClip.

FDA Ephedra Ban

The FDA has not yet issued its final ruling on banning ephedra as of the date of this newsletter. Here is an update of what has happened leading up to the announcement of the proposed ban and the reasoning behind it. more

FTC Policy on Weight Loss Advertising

The Federal Trade Commission’s campaign to prevent fraudulent weight loss advertising, which originated in September 2002, culminated with the third in a series of three reports issued in December 2003. Read about the FTC’s efforts to screen out all forms of fraudulent weight loss advertising. more

The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs

Since its publication last year, The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs has received widespread acclaim. The Guide has been reviewed by professional journals as well as mainstream media, including Annals of Internal Medicine, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, and USA Weekend. Some of the aspects of The Guidethat reviewers have found noteworthy are its easy-to-use format, a section on interpreting product labels, the clinical studies, and its usefulness for consumers as well as healthcare practitioners.

To date, four universities have adopted The Guide as textbooks. These include: University of Arizona, Department of Medicine, Program in Integrative Medicine; Duquesne University, Mylan School of Pharmacy; University of Illinois Chicago, College of Pharmacy, Department of Medicinal Chemistry & Pharmacognosy; and Metropolitan State College, Denver, CO.

Learn more about The Guide at The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs.