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In the April issue of Natural Foods Merchandiser, ABC founder and executive director Mark Blumenthal was one of 25 people honored for their contributions to the supplement movement. The article, “25 Who Fortified Supplements," reports on responses to a series of eight questions posed to those honored by the publication.

ABC staff was proud to learn of his selection to this august group, and agreed that Mark is very deserving of this recognition. Although Mark reviews most of what is published by ABC, the staff felt that his own humility might prevent him from publicizing this selection to the group of 25. Staff considers it an honor to work with him and feels it important that ABC members know that Mark was so recognized by his peers.

One of the questions asked of each of the honorees, was to name their own hero in the supplement movement. Evidence for the wisdom of Mark’s selection is supported by the fact that three of the other 24 honorees named Mark Blumenthal as their hero.

For many, receiving recognition from one’s peers is the highest accolade. The staff and Board of Trustees acknowledge Mark for his many years of service to all aspects of the herbal medicine movement and thank those at NFM for confirming their confidence in Mark’s past and continued contribution.

ABC is happy to welcome Michael Finney as its new managing editor of HerbalGram. Michael will oversee the development of editorial content, working with writers, coordinating the peer review process, and maintaining the publication schedule in addition to other related tasks.

Michael comes to HerbalGram with more than 10 years experience as a professional writer and editor. His background includes 7 years with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), including working as managing editor of BITS: Computing & Communications News, a monthly journal published by LANL. Michael also has an M.A. in Technical Writing from Oklahoma State University where he taught sophomore and junior level courses in technical writing.

Before coming to ABC, Michael worked as a freelance writer and editor for non-profit organizations based in Austin and taught courses in English composition at Austin Community College.

ABC recently received a Certificate of Excellence Award from the North American Precis Syndicate Inc. (NAPS). NAPS awarded ABC for its ginkgo news release which placed in the top one-quarter of one percent of all releases distributed to the media through NAPS. News releases normally generate 100 to 400 placements with 400 rarely being reached. ABC's ginkgo release brought in placements in 712 newspapers in 37 different states with a total readership of 32,070,800.

ABC’s annual report for the fiscal year ending October 31, 2003 is now available on our website at: This is the second year we have made public our annual report. Last year’s report is also available online.

To learn more about the tour, visit To register for the tour, call 610-738-0477 or email

ABC has recently added a new section to the Educational Resources of its website, New Book Profiles. This feature will include descriptions of all the books we receive by the ABC Education Department or for review in HerbalGram.

Staff and interns have begun writing short descriptions of these books so that we can notify you about them on a timely basis. These New Book Profiles also appear in HerbalGram and do not preclude a full review of the books. In fact, we hope they will inspire you to contact us and offer to review them for HerbalGram. If you are interested in reviewing any of the books listed, contact Michael Finney, Managing Editor of HerbalGram at If you wish to purchase any of these books, please click on the "Order from" button. ABC will receive a small commission from your order.

Welcome to the second issue of the American Botanical Council’s e-newsletter, HerbalEGram, a new benefit for all ABC members. We received emails from many of you after the first issue, thanking us and telling us what a good idea the e-newsletter is. We’re still working out the details, but the plan is for the newsletter to be quarterly, scheduled to be sent between each issue of HerbalGram. We want HerbalEGram to be useful and relevant to our members, so please send us your suggestions and comments to HerbalEGram. Thank you for your membership and continued support of the American Botanical Council.

Many members use ABC’s Education Department for research, primarily based on searches of scientific and traditional literature. This service plays an essential role in ABC’s healthcare professional internship program. Working with the education department on member/client research requests provides interns with opportunities to familiarize themselves with the vast resources on herbal medicine, along with a chance to prepare themselves for the types of questions they might get in their future practice.

The following is a response to an airport security personnel question. Security at the airport had received numerous complaints from customers not wanting their herbal medications to pass through x-ray machines; security wanted to know whether x-ray machines can be harmful to herbal medications, and what alternatives are available to travelers. The research was conducted and the following answer composed by ABC intern Wayne Goertz Jr., a Pharm.D. candidate, who will become an authorized nuclear pharmacist in August 2004.

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Most travelers are familiar with the damage that x-ray machines can inflict on items such as film, but may be less familiar with how the machines can affect the efficacy of herbal products.

X-rays are photons that have no mass or charge and travel at the speed of light. In an atom, after an electron receives additional energy and jumps to a higher, unoccupied orbital within that atom, it eventually moves back into the lower orbital, releasing energy in the form of an x-ray. Like light (but with more energy), x-rays can penetrate different materials to varying degrees.

X-ray machines artificially produce x-rays and pass them through an object, exposing film that is contained in the machine. Objects that x-rays pass through appear dark and are barely visible on the film, while objects that attenuate a large number of x-rays will appear brighter (as bone does on a medical x-ray).

When an x-ray is attenuated or weakened as it passes through an object, the energy that the ray loses is transferred to the atoms that make up the object. Such energy absorption can lead to alterations in the makeup of the atoms and thus the compounds that make up the object; in an herbal product, even one small change to a single molecule can completely alter the product’s medicinal action.

When an herbal product passes through an x-ray machine, it appears darker on the film or monitor and has thus not absorbed much, if any, additional energy. While it is likely that little to no damage was done to the compounds that make up that product, there is always potential that the x-rays affected the product’s chemical composition.

As a general rule, if an herbal product is infrequently exposed to x-rays, the rays should not affect the product to a great extent, and users should not worry about decreased efficacy. Because energy absorption on the atomic level increases with x-ray exposure, if a product is more frequently exposed to x-rays, there is greater possibility for chemical degradation, particularly if the chemical or chemicals giving the product its activity are fragile.

Phillip Harvey, Ph.D., chief science officer at the National Nutritional Foods Association, has stated in Natural Health Magazine that herbal products are not affected by airport x-rays, and that the radiation levels produced by x-ray machines are too low to break down the chemical composition of supplements, even if one travels as often as a flight attendant or pilot.

Several alternatives exist for those who are still concerned about the effects of x-rays on herbal products. It is often possible for travelers to hand check herbal medications if accompanied by a formal note from a licensed physician. Other options include mailing the herbal product to the destination before initial departure or purchasing new products after arriving at the destination. Concerned travelers should also be sure to check with their air carrier for specific rules and guidelines, additional options, and details about regulations regarding traveling with herbal products.

Thank you for your continued support of the American Botanical Council!


The next issue of HerbalGram (#62) went to the printer last week. The cover story on the new issue is an ethnobotanical review of devil's club (Oplopanax horridus) that covers its many medicinal and spiritual uses among indigenous people in northwestern North America. There is also an article on the health benefits of lycopene, plus all the regular clinical updates, research reviews, legal and regulatory and market news. See the current issue of HerbalGram issue #61.

If you were a member of the American Botanical Council when HerbalGram #53 was published, you will probably remember the gorgeous pictorial adapted from the book Secretory Structures of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants: A Review and Atlas of Micrographs. ABC has recently received permission from the book’s publisher to reproduce these stunning images on ABC’s website. Here is a sample image from the article.

Click here to see the new HTML version of the article, which has all of the photomicrographic images from the article with links that allow you to enlarge each one. In addition, ABC has posted a PDF of this entire article with beautiful renditions of the photomicrographs, plus the images from Steven Foster ( that were included in the article.

Available from the ABC catalog: Secretory Structures of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants: A Review and Atlas of Micrographs by Katerina P. Svoboda and Tomas G. Svoboda. Micrographs by Andrew D. Syred. 2000. Secretory structures on plant tissues are responsible for producing and releasing aromatic components and essential oils, and are not ordinarily visible to the naked eye. This book presents anatomic descriptions of the various types of secretory structures (i.e., cells, ducts, trichomes, and cavities) and color plates of the microscopic structures. It features 36 light micrographs, 42 scanning electron micrographs, 64 pages in full color, 31 plant species, a glossary and an index of English and Latin names. Softcover, 60 pp. $45. To purchase this book, click here.

May 15–16: 1st Annual Herbal Symposium: Medicinal Plants of Texas

Austin, TX. Presented by Herbalists of Texas (HOT). The symposium’s goal is to raise awareness for the protection, respect and nourishment of our land, our plants, our bodies, and thus our health. Through a wide variety of classes, HOT will provide an in depth look at the plants of our region and how they are used as medicine. For more information contact Kara at 512-567-5206 or visit

June 7–10: 9th Annual Botanical Medicine in Modern Clinical Practice

New York, NY. Presented by Columbia University, course directors are Fredi Kronenberg, Ph.D. and Andrew Weil, M.D. The faculty will also include well-known herbalists and physicians practicing integrative medicine and colleagues from the New York Botanical Garden, American Botanical Council and the Herb Research Foundation. Continuing education credit for physicians, Category 1. Ph: 212/305-3334. Websites: or

Call for Abstracts

The National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA) has announced that a scientific poster session has been added to its 67th Annual Natural Products Convention and Trade Show, NNFA 2004.

The NNFA poster session allows individuals, companies, and/or universities/foundations that conduct research to present their data, findings and validation to the wide audience of natural products retailers and suppliers that attend NNFA 2004. The session also encourages one-on-one contact with these attendees. This informal interaction between scientist and attendee is a learning experience for all and allows for individual discussion on science, research, and new developments within the natural products industry.

Share your knowledge and research with industry colleagues and submit an abstract for the NNFA 2004 Poster Session. For more information and submission guidelines, visit


The current HerbClip bin was released on April 30. Two samples have been made available to all members: “Herbs Used for Serum Cholesterol Reduction” and “Hops Review: Sedative Activity, Cancer Prevention, and Menopausal Symptom Relief.”

Members of ABC at the Academic level and above have access to HerbClip Online, a searchable database of more than 2,200 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

On Friday, February 6, 2004, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it was publishing its final rule banning the sales of all dietary supplements containing the controversial herb ephedra (Ephedra sinicaStapf., Ephedraceae) and any ephedra group alkaloids (e.g. ephedrine, pseudoephedrine). Sales of these products were to cease by April 12, 2004. Read more about the final ruling here.