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Guest column from the UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research
HerbalEGram is pleased to introduce a new guest column that will explore various aspects of the concept of "botanical integrity." The first article in this series by Guido Pauli, PhD, and his colleagues from the University of Illinois - Chicago/National Institutes of Health Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research, introduces readers to botanical integrity, which incorporates quality control measures from three distinct but essential scientific processes: botanical examination, phytochemical analysis, and bioactivity assessment. Each of these factors is vital to assuring botanical integrity; using only a single domain when testing product ingredients — such as in the case of the NY Attorney General's testing of herbal supplements — is not enough to ensure botanical integrity. Read more>>

By Karen Raterman, Guest Contributor
In March, the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) pulled 107 St. John’s wort products from Amazon’s UK site. The MHRA maintains that the products in question did not adhere to the agency’s procedures, which require medicinal products to hold a license to verify their safety, efficacy, and quality. Currently, two distinct categories exist for natural medicines in the United Kingdom: registered herbal medicines and "botanicals." The St. John’s wort products pulled were, according to the MHRA, advertised as herbal medicines and the agency responded appropriately. The separate designations, however, could be a source of ongoing confusion for the consumer, the producer, and the regulator of natural medicines, making it difficult to ascertain the safety, efficacy, and quality of products for sale. Read more>>

By Hannah Bauman and Amanda Reat
This month’s Food as Medicine article explores the beneficial health properties of the artichoke and its close relative, cardoon. These native Mediterranean plants were first mentioned in a natural treatise in 400 BCE in Greece, and the first written record of their medicinal qualities came from Pliny the Elder in the first century CE. Artichoke and cardoon have documented hepatoprotective abilities due to high levels of inulin, in addition to chemopreventative and cardioprotective phenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. Modern research has focused on the safety and efficacy of artichoke leaf extract and its possible application as a cholesterol-lowering agent, as well as its gastrointestinal healing qualities for the relief of dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome, and intestinal cramps. Read more>>

Botanical Integrity (BI) model.

Hypericum perforatum

Cynara scolymus

Terry Lemerond

Featured Book
Botanicals: Methods and Techniques for Quality and Authenticity was edited by Kurt A. Reynertson and Khalid Mahmood and published in 2015 by CRC Press. The excerpt includes the title page, table of contents, preface from the editors, and Chapter 5, “The DNA Toolkit: A Practical User’s Guide to Genetic Methods of Botanical Authentication” by Danica T. Harbaugh Reynaud, PhD.

The assurance of quality and authenticity of botanical ingredients is of paramount importance in the natural products and dietary supplement community, as demonstrated by the recent actions by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. In this timely publication, industry experts have contributed chapters examining a variety of different methods that can be used to determine the identity and quality of botanical ingredients, ranging from classical methods such as organoleptic evaluation and more modern techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance and DNA-based evaluations. Presciently, Dr. Reynaud reviews the strengths and limitations of DNA-based authentications in Chapter 5 and notes that DNA methods are inappropriate to authenticate dried herbal extracts.

ABC Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, writes in his review of Botanicals (slated for publication in the upcoming issue #106 of HerbalGram) that the text “is not only an interesting read for analytical geeks like me, or for those who want to learn more about quality control of botanicals, but can be a helpful resource for those who consider expanding their analytical capabilities for botanical ingredient analysis in a contract analytical laboratory or in the dietary supplement industry.”

 can be purchased from the publisher’s website;
 ABC members can purchase this book for 10% off the retail price through the ABC Bookstore.
Media Watch

Schneiderman, Other AGs Ask Congress to Investigate Herbal Supplements Industry. NutraIngredients-USA. April 2, 2015. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and 13 other attorneys general have issued a letter to Congress members asking for an investigation of the herbal supplements industry.

MRSA Superbug Killed by 1,100-Year-Old Home Remedy, Researchers SayWashington Post. March 31, 2015. Researchers in the United Kingdom report that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus proved vulnerable to an ancient remedy from “Bald’s Leechbook.”

Natural Extract from Rosehips May Combat Aggressive Breast Cancer. Science World Report. March 30, 2015. Scientists have found that a natural extract from rose hips significantly reduced the growth and migration of cells from a type of breast cancer known as triple negative, a particularly aggressive form.

In Brazil, Some Inmates Get Therapy With Hallucinogenic TeaNew York Times. March 28, 2015. A controversial inmate rehabilitation program involves violent offenders consuming the psychedelic ayahuasca.

Chikungunya Revives Herbal Remedies in Antigua. BBC News. March 29, 2015. Locals in Antigua are turning to natural remedies to alleviate the symptoms of the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya, for which there is currently no cure.

Quillaja: Coming to Your Beer, Soda and Shampoo. Fox News. March 25, 2015. Saponins from Chilean quillaja trees are becoming a popular natural and sustainable additive for the food, medical, and cosmetics industries.

Modern Marijuana Is Often Laced With Heavy Metals and FungusSmithsonian. March 23, 2015. As marijuana becomes legal in more states, concerns have been raised about the quality, safety, and potency of modern strains.

How the Apothecary Gave Birth to the Modern Cocktail Movement. Eater. March 20, 2015. Early concoctions of bitters, concentrates of tinctures, and extracts along with potent, home-distilled alcohol became the blueprints for the cocktail recipes of today.

Community And Industry Releases

April 7-9: Ingredients Marketplace. Orlando, Florida, USA.

April 28-29: OTC & Cosmetics: Marketing & Labeling in Compliance with FDA Regulations. Schaumburg, Illinois, USA.

May 6-8: World Tea Expo. Long Beach, California, USA.

June 5-8: Phyt'Arom Grasse 2015. Grasse, France.

June 29 - July 2: Joint Society Conference: Society for Economic Botany and Indigenous Plant Use Forum. Clanwilliam, Western Cape, South Africa.

More event listings can be found on ABC's website.

Herbal IQ

Do you know what springtime pie favorite has a 4,500-year history as a Chinese medicinal ingredient? Find the answer here!