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Rhodiola budRhodiola rosea. Photo©2009 Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

The winter holiday season may be the perfect time to celebrate Earth’s cold-weather botanicals. One of the most renowned of these is Rhodiola rosea—a medicinal that typically grows in cold circumboreal and northern alpine areas. As reported in this issue of HerbalEGram, the world’s first processing plant specifically designed for rhodiola has recently been established in Alberta, Canada, where the medicinal plant is expected to thrive in the freezing temperatures.

Elsewhere in this issue, we cover some exciting research developments, including recent work to identify a powerful medicinal herb often referenced in Indian mythology. The Manu Cloud Forest Canopy Observatory, meanwhile, has recently been completed in Peru, and should enable greater research of Amazonian highland plants through state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories. And a new nonprofit, called Chinese Herb Garden, is initiating projects to identify threatened Asian medicinal plants and promote their sustainable use.

ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal will be speaking at “Natural Supplements: An Evidence-Based Update,” the 7th annual conference of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, in San Diego from January 21-24, 2010. His speech will cover regulations of Canadian herbal products. Blumenthal recently attempted to clarify the regulatory status of dietary supplements in the United States through a letter to the editor of The New York Times. Though The Times did not publish the letter, it has since revised the story to correct the inaccuracy.

We wish all of our readers a happy and healthy holiday season!


The Staff of the American Botanical Council


HerbalGram 84 features a review of traditional medicinal practices and currentHG84 herbal research in Malaysia. Napo Pharmaceuticals’ sustainable harvesting of “Blood of the Dragon”—the medicinal sap of the Croton lechleri tree—with the assistance of local Peruvians is also profiled in this issue. Another feature article examines the importance of investigating traditional herbal remedies for malaria, rather than single-chemical drugs. Also in this issue, the impact of current Good Manufacturing Practices on small dietary supplement companies is investigated.

Featured Book

Clinical Botanical Medicine


December's selected book excerpt comes from Clinical Botanical Medicine, 2nd edition, written by Eric Yarnell, Kathy Abascal, and Robert Rountree, and published in 2009. This excerpt  contains the book's table of contents, preface, and Chapter 23, "Herbs for Seasonal Influenza." All are available here.



©2009 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

Media Watch

We have tested the links of the following articles prior to publication; however, some news organizations remove stories and disable links at various times.

Tradition Holds the Key to Best Practice Patents. CPA Global. 11-27-09. The Indian government has submitted a digital library of traditional Indian therapies to the US Patent and Trademark offices in hopes of preventing piracy of traditional treatments based on Indian medicinal plants. 

Herbal Supplements May Raise Lead Blood Levels in Women. Reuters. 11-26-09. New research has shown that women who take specific herbal supplements, including St. John’s wort and some or traditional Chinese or Ayurvedic herbal products, have 20% higher levels of lead in their blood. 

Brazilian Mint Tea Found to be as Effective as Pain-Relief DrugsThe Guardian. 11-25-09. UK researchers have found a traditional Brazilian tea made from the plant Hyptis crenata to be as effective at relieving pain in mice as a synthetic aspirin-style drug. 

In Amazon, a Frustrated Search for Cancer Cures. Reuters. 11-17-09. The search for  Amazonian plants with medicinal properties continues on a local level while laws meant to protect against biopiracy have resulted in little international research. 

Preserving Appalachia’s Herb BasketThe Daily Sentinel. 11-17-09. The United Plant Savers’ Goldenseal Sanctuary and Talking Forest Trail System aims to preserve the region’s medicinal plants, such as black cohosh and wild ginger, as well as educate the public on the plants’ habitat.  

Government Plans to Create Jobs Through HerbsRepublica. 11-16-09. Nepal’s Forest Department is proposing to employ 30,000 households in the cultivation of medicinal plants, including white and black musli, mint, and asparagus.  

AMA: Time for Another Look at Marijuana. Contra Costa Times. 11-16-09. The American Medical Association has reversed its previous position that marijuana has no medical value and is now saying that the plant has some therapeutic use and should be rescheduled from its current Schedule I designation. 

Swine Flu Cases Cause Surge of Garlic Sales in Serbia. Associated Press. 11-13-09. With swine flu cases increasing throughout Serbia, the demand for garlic as a treatment for the virus is rising despite advice from doctors and the country’s health officials.  

Additional media watch articles are available here.


December 8, 2009: NCCAM's 10th Anniversary Research Symposium: Exploring the Science of CAM. Bethesda, MD.

January 9-10, 2010: Ayurvedic Medicine for Health Professionals. Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, La Jolla, CA.

February 25-27, 2010: Integrative Healthcare Symposium. New York, NY. ABC members can enter 100131 when registering for 15% off. 

Recent News

Cloud Forest Walkway

Manu Cloud Forest Canopy Observatory Photo©2009 Enrique Ortiz

Researchers Identify Mythical Herb Said to Have Power to Restore Life. A group of researchers have possibly found the mythical medicinal herb mentioned in the Indian epic Ramayana referred to as possessing the ability to resurrect life.  

Manu Cloud Forest Canopy Observatory Completed. The Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research (ACEER) and the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) have completed their new walkway system through a cloud forest in southeastern Peru. 

Canadian Rhodiola Growers Open Processing Plant. The world’s first processing plant specifically for Rhodiola rosea root has opened in Thorsby, Alberta, Canada. Rhodiola rosea was selected for Alberta’s cold climate as it needs freezing temperatures to germinate.

Chinese Herb Garden Promotes Sustainable Use of Medicinal Asian Plants. A new nonprofit, called Chinese Herb Garden, plans to educate practitioners, consumers and others interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine about the threats facing Asian medicinal flora.

21st Annual AAIC Meeting in Chile: “The Next Generation of Industrial Crops, Processes, and Products”. The 21st annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops featured some interesting presentations and posters concerning medicinal plant research and development.