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By Karen Raterman, Guest Contributor
The dietary supplement industry faced criticism once again after a synthetic isomer of amphetamine, beta-methylphenylethylamine (BMPEA), was detected in products listing “Acacia rigidula” as an ingredient. Though the FDA has taken action against companies selling A. rigidula products, the media scrutiny has been intense and United States senators are now urging further disciplinary measures, including a ban of BMPEA. Never approved for human use, BMPEA has not been studied for safety and efficacy in humans but has been used in products sold in dietary supplements since 2010. Criticisms for the FDA’s “slow” response, allegations of conflicted interests, and questions surrounding the utility of DSHEA continue to plague the dietary supplement industry in the wake of the New York Attorney General’s actions, and BMPEA appears to be the latest rallying cry for industry skeptics. Read more>>

Want to know more about Acacia rigidulaFind out more in our special HerbalEGram herb profile.

By Stefan Gafner, PhD
The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has announced its proposal to list two botanical products — "Aloe vera whole leaf extract" and "goldenseal root powder" — as substances “known to cause cancer” in accordance with the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also known as Proposition 65. The possible carcinogenic activity of both botanicals is based on animal, not human, studies; in both cases, the animals were given higher-than-recommended doses. Though both aloe and goldenseal are classified as safe to use by the American Herbal Product Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook, this ruling may cause confusion among consumers as to which products may still be regarded as “safe,” given that a variety of aloe vera preparations exist, and also may result in a loss of consumer confidence in the relative safety of botanicals.
 Read more>>

By Hannah Bauman and Kristin Bates
The strawberry currently enjoys widespread popularity as a food, but its value potentially stretches beyond jams, pies, and gelatin. Recent studies have examined strawberries and the role they might play in cardiovascular health, and the results have been promising: due to their relatively high dietary fiber content as well as high concentrations of antioxidants, a diet rich in strawberries contributes to healthy aging, reduced oxidative damage, and cancer prevention. The potential health benefits of strawberries, however, is not a new discovery. 17th century herbalist Thomas Culpeper praised strawberries for their health benefits, calling them “singularly good for the healing of many ills,” and Greeks and Romans used them as a cure for gout. The leaves make an astringent, diuretic tea, and the fruit has been used in cosmetic preparations. Read more>>

Chemical structure of BMPEA

Aloe vera

Fragaria × ananassa

Featured Book

The Big Herbs was written by Paul Strauss and published in 2014 by XOXOX Press. The excerpt includes the title page, table of contents, prologue, and a chapter on Slippery Elm.

In The Big Herbs, Paul Strauss tells his story of how he returned to nature, reclaiming land in the Appalachians of southeastern Ohio that was devastated by strip mining and nurturing it back to its original wild abundance. Strauss has spent 40 years bringing the land back to life, creating a sanctuary for both flora and fauna, and bringing high-quality botanical medicines to a growing audience. In "Part 1: Conceiving Sanctuary," Strauss tells his story in his own words: trekking across the American Southwest to learn and be inspired by herbalists and First American plant knowledge, the difficulties he faced in Ohio, and the slow but rewarding journey of seeing the land bloom again.

“Part II: The Big Herbs” describes the trees and shrubs that Strauss preserves on his sanctuary. These “big herbs” often are overlooked by herb books, but Strauss has a story behind the aspens, oaks, maples, and elms, and how humans can form a beneficial relationship with each one. “Part III: Maintaining Sanctuary” explores the duality of life and death on the land as Strauss describes a few natural disasters that both challenged and strengthened the ecosystem of his sanctuary.

A recent documentary, Blis DeVault's Sanctity of Sanctuary, also tells Strauss's story. It received numerous film festival awards, taking the top Environmental Film prize at the Byrom Bay Festival in Australia.

The Big Herbs and Sanctity of Sanctuary can be purchased from the publisher's website.

Media Watch

Extending GMPs to Ingredient Suppliers Would Fix Gap in Original Rule, Stakeholders Say. NutraIngredients-USA. May 18, 2015. Many have expressed support for a recently filed FDA citizen’s petition to extend cGMPs to raw material suppliers, but the potentially high cost of implementation may not be as welcome.

FDA Says No CBD in Supplements. NutraIngredients-USA. May 18, 2015. The FDA has announced that cannabidiol (CBD) is not allowed in dietary supplements because of an existing investigational new drug application for the compound.

Yaupon, the Only Caffeine Source Native to the US, Has Potential to ExplodeNutritional Outlook. May 13, 2015. From the same genus as the more well-known yerba maté, yaupon tea contains caffeine and a high concentration of antioxidants.

Plant Extracts Offer Hope against Diabetes and Cancer. Medical Xpress. May 12, 2015. A new study has shown that traditional Aboriginal and Indian plant extracts could be used to manage diabetes and may also have potential use in cancer treatment.

Penn State Instructor Raising Awareness to Protect Sought-After Ginseng from PoachersCentre Daily Times. May 9, 2015. In an effort to conserve American ginseng and increase its wild population, Eric Burkhart, PhD, is encouraging rural landowners to reintroduce the plant.

Ancient Chinese Remedy Found to Be Applicable to Modern Medicine. Health Canal. May 7, 2015. Shikonin, a traditional Chinese medicine from the dried root of a plant called Lithospermum erythrorhizon, was found effective in reducing hypertrophic scarring.

Cannabis Oil Use Now Legal in TennesseeUSA Today. May 5, 2015. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a new law that allows patients who suffer from seizures or epilepsy and received a recommendation from a doctor to use cannabis oil.

Coffee Antioxidants: From Bean to Brew. NutraIngredients-USA. May 5, 2015. Australian researchers have tracked the anti-radical and antioxidant properties of coffee from bean to brewery.

Herbal IQ

What skin benefits do those Mother's Day roses offer? Find out here!