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American Botaniical Council Presents Annual Botanical Excellence Awards

The American Botanical Council (ABC) hosted its 10th annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards ceremony on March 5, 2015, at the Hilton Anaheim in Anaheim, California. This event honors the support of ABC’s Sponsor Members and the contributions to the herbal community by the recipients of ABC's's Botanical Excellence Awards. As in previous years, it was held in conjunction with the Natural Products Expo West trade show and NEXT Innovation Summit.

The annual Celebration brought together a diverse group of approximately 350 ABC supporters — ABC Sponsor Members; Small Business Members; members of the ABC Board of Trustees, Advisory Board, and Director’s Circle; and others — for a lively evening of conversation, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and an engaging awards ceremony. Highlights of the evening included ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal’s always-anticipated cartoon slideshow, and a special and timely presentation by United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) President Loren Israelsen, titled “The Herb Industry at the Crossroads: The Impact of the New York Attorney General's DNA Test on Herbal Supplements.”

The night also marked the announcement of Terry Lemerond, founder and president of EuroPharma, Inc., as the recipient of the first-ever ABC Champion Award. Blumenthal made the announcement as he kicked off the awards portion of the program, lauding Lemerond for his decades of commitment to ABC's mission and programs, as well as his 40 years of activity and contributions within the herbal community.

ABC Board Chair, Thomas Newmark, announced the recipient of the James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award — Nancy J. Turner, PhD, for her two-volume work, Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge. Dr. Turner accepted the award and conveyed her deep gratitude for the honor via a short video shown at the ceremony.

Joseph Betz, PhD, director of the Analytical Methods & Reference Materials Program at the Office of Dietary Supplements, presented the Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award to Harry H.S. Fong, PhD. Daniel Fabricant, PhD, CEO and executive director of the Natural Products Association (NPA) and a former student of Drs. Farnsworth and Fong, accepted the award in Dr. Fong's stead.

The Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award was presented by ABC Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, to Soho Flordis International (SFI). Nigel Pollard, CEO of SFI, accepted the award on behalf of his Australian-based company.

Finally, Blumenthal presented the third annual Herbal Community Builder Award — the recipient of which was not announced prior to the Celebration — to Loren Israelsen. Israelsen accepted the award and expressed his gratitude for the collaboration with ABC over the years working toward the common good within the herbal community.

Additional details about the ABC Awards and recipients are as follows:

Book Documenting Northwest Native American Uses of Medicinal Plants Is Recipient of ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award Dr. Nancy Turner received the Duke award for her two-volume work — Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014) which is based on her research concerning the plants, practices, and ecology of native tribes. Dr. Turner is an ethnobotanist and Distinguished Professor and Hakai Professor in Ethnoecology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

The ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award was created in 2006 in honor of noted economic botanist and author, James A. Duke, PhD. It is awarded annually to books that provide a significant contribution to the literature in the fields of botany, taxonomy, ethnobotany, phytomedicine, or other disciplines related to the vast field of medicinal plants. Along with his expansive and prestigious career achievements in economic botany and ethnobotany and decades of work at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Dr. Duke has authored more than 30 reference and consumer books. He is also a co-founding member of ABC’s Board of Trustees and currently serves as Director Emeritus.

Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge represents four years of research and writing, drawing from Dr. Turner’s previous work and publications. She compiled a database of plant names from approximately 50 Indigenous languages and major dialects of the First Peoples, whose territories extend through most of the area covered in the book — from central Alaska to the Columbia River and east to the Rocky Mountains in western North America. “That showed some amazing connections, in some cases across long distances, that must have resulted from communication and linkages going way back into the past,” said Dr. Turner.

“I tried to write the book in an accessible way,” Dr. Turner continued, “so that it would be useful and of interest to a large and diverse group, from undergraduate university and college students to interested members of the general public. Most especially, I wanted to honor the elders and knowledge holders from Indigenous communities, and hope that younger generations will find the information in the book relevant and important as a part of their own cultural heritage.”

As Dr. Duke noted in his review of Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge in issue 105 of ABC's peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram, “I have long admired Dr. Turner’s great work. As I skim pleasantly through her books, I can see interesting parallels between the late, great [Harvard ethnobotanist] R.E. Schultes, PhD, and his students assembling anthropological and ethnobotanical data on the First Amazonian Americans into a solid framework. Nancy and her students have done the same for approximately 500 ethnobotanical species of the First Americans in Northwest America.”

Dr. Turner, who has been studying ethnobotany and the cultures of Indigenous American peoples since 1967, has taught full-time at the University of Victoria since 1991. She has written more than 20 books and numerous articles, and also has an impressive array of awards, grants, and honors to her name, including Distinguished Economic Botanist of the Year from the Society for Economic Botany in 2011 and appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2009. ABC has proudly included her on its Advisory Board since 1996. Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge represents the culmination of a career of almost 50 years.

“I was always interested in plants and people,” said Dr. Turner. “Once I learned that this study was called ethnobotany…that's what I wanted to study. It's in my high school yearbook (1965). I remember [that] in grade four, I was already serving dandelion and wild greens salad to my friends, much to their parents' concern." Thanks to her continued dedication to teaching through experience, Dr. Turner's students absorb much more than names and places, and it is this idea that permeates her text. “[The students] learn that humans can live within Nature without destroying it, working with natural processes and Nature's wonderful abilities to regenerate and restore itself,” she said.

“Dr. Nancy J. Turner collects, preserves, and explores biological information for (not from) Indigenous cultures, primarily First Nation groups in British Columbia,” said Steven Foster, noted author, photographer, and former president of the ABC Board of Trustees. “Her five decades of shared wisdom challenge how we think about people as a part of, rather than apart from, ecosystems. Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge is a magnum opus of timeless value that will define ethnobiology and ethnoecology for generations forward.”

“Ethnobotany is a key foundation of modern herbal medicine,” said Blumenthal. “Much of the herbal knowledge we have today is based on the traditional uses of plants by people in Indigenous cultures. Nancy Turner's documentation of the plant use in northwestern North America is a true treasure.”

Prof. Harry H.S. Fong Receives ABC's Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award

Professor Fong received the ABC Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award for 2014. Dr. Fong a close friend and collaborator of Prof. Farnsworth for almost 60 years — is professor emeritus of pharmacognosy in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). ABC presents this award each year to a person who or an institution that has made significant contributions to ethnobotanical and/or pharmacognostic research (i.e., research on drugs of natural origin, usually from plants).

Throughout his long career in academia, Dr. Fong has focused his research efforts on collaborative drug discovery from plants, particularly those with active antitumor, cancer chemopreventative, antimalarial, and anti-tuberculosis activities. Dr. Fong also has been dedicated to the quality, analysis, and standardization of herbal medicines and botanical dietary supplements worldwide, collaborating with the World Health Organization's (WHO) Traditional and Complementary Medicine Programme for 30 years and “working with the Hong Kong Health Department for the past 13 years on its ongoing setting of pharmacopeial quality standards for Chinese herbal materials commercially available in Hong Kong.”

To date, Dr. Fong has authored more than 270 scientific journal articles, co-authored nine book chapters, and edited 16 scientific publications, including multiple WHO medicinal plant monographs.

“Being named the recipient of the ABC Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award for 2014 is a unique honor,” stated Dr. Fong. “To be invited to join the company of a small, select group of internationally recognized botanical medicine researchers is very humbling.”

Dr. Fong first met Prof. Farnsworth in 1955 at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy, where Dr. Fong was a first-year pharmacy student and Prof. Farnsworth was an instructor and PhD student of pharmacognosy. “Subsequently, I became his first graduate student in 1959,” noted Dr. Fong. After Dr. Fong completed his own PhD in pharmacognosy at Ohio State University in 1965, he returned to the University of Pittsburgh, where he worked with Prof. Farnsworth as a research assistant professor.

The late Professor Farnsworth the Excellence in Botanical Research Award’s namesake — was one of ABC's co-founding Board of Trustees members, a research professor of pharmacognosy, and a senior university scholar in the College of Pharmacy at UIC. When Professor Farnsworth died in 2011 at the age of 81, the global medicinal plant community lost one of its greatest champions.

“Norman Farnsworth and I were best friends on the personal level, and were research and academic collaborators/partners professionally,” explained Dr. Fong. “To say that Norm had impacted my career and my life is an understatement. … Norman convinced me that my life would be more fulfilling as an underpaid academic, rather than a rich pharmacist. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Harry Fong has made many significant contributions in the fields of drug discovery from botanical materials, the quality control of botanical dietary supplements and traditional herbal medicines, and in setting standards for herbal medicines worldwide,” said ABC Chief Science Officer, Stefan Gafner, PhD, who did post-doctoral research at UIC from 1998 to 1999. “He is internationally recognized as an expert in herbal medicine and one of the most highly regarded pharmacognosists of our time.”

“Dr. Fong's ability to encourage and inspire collaborative research from world-renowned scientists is second to no one's,” noted NPA's Dr. Fabricant. Dr. Fabricant received his PhD from Prof. Farnsworth at UIC and Prof. Fong was a member of his thesis committee. “Professor Fong played a huge role in expanding the program at UIC into the best in the world, leaving no details to chance, then repeated that success with the WHO program and countless others. What makes this amazing is that in addition to growing those programs, Dr. Fong was also responsible for the students in the Medicinal Chemistry/Pharmacognosy program at UIC, often serving as an advisor on everything outside of the dissertation. [H]ow he was able to balance those roles and so many others, is a wonder to this day.”

Dr. Fong has received numerous awards and has served the botanical research community through a number of leadership positions. In the late 1970s, Dr. Fong was the president of the American Society of Pharmacognosy, after which he became president of the Society for Economic Botany from 1981 to 1982. He was the recipient of the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy’s 1997 Jack L. Beal Post-Baccalaureate Alumnae Award as well as the NPA’s 2008 Burton Kallman Scientific Award. Dr. Fong also is a charter and honorary member of the American Society of Pharmacognosy, a member of the WHO Expert Panel on Traditional Medicine since 1997, and serves on multiple scientific advisory boards for universities around the world.

“Harry has been a key member of major collaborative research programs aimed at the discovery of compounds from terrestrial plants having potential as leads for the development of novel agents for the treatment of a range of serious diseases such as cancer, malaria, and tuberculosis,” noted Gordon M. Cragg, PhD, former chief of the Natural Products Branch of the National Cancer Institute and 2013 recipient of the ABC Farnsworth Award. “Added to this important research, he has also had a major impact on botanical research through the application of his extensive knowledge and expertise to the standardization and quality control of herbal medicines and botanical dietary supplements.”

“Harry Fong and Norman Farnsworth collaborated closely for many decades in advancing botanical research,” added Dr. Cragg, “and it is most fitting that Dr. Fong’s outstanding achievements be recognized with this award named in honor of his longtime colleague and friend.”

“Harry is a dynamic researcher and advocate for natural product research and the responsible use of quality medicinal plant materials,” said Blumenthal. “He and Prof. Farnsworth were almost inseparable, and it is highly fitting that ABC acknowledge and honor not only his loyal friendship and academic relationship with Norm, but also his many excellent contributions to the medicinal plant research community.”

SFI Receives ABC Varro E. Tyler Award for Phytomedicinal Research

Australia-based Soho Flordis International (SFI) received ABC’s Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award. SFI is a global natural medicine company committed to identifying and developing natural medicines with high levels of evidence of quality, safety, and effectiveness, and marketing them around the world.

The late Professor Tyler — who has been described as one of the most respected men in late-20th century herbal medicine and pharmacognosy — was an early trustee of ABC, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Purdue University for 20 years, and vice president of academic affairs at Purdue. He was the senior author of six editions of the leading textbook in the field, formerly used in every college of pharmacy in the United States, as well as numerous other professional and popular books and many articles in the academic literature. Prof. Tyler encouraged scientific and product integrity, and envisioned a rational phytomedicinal (plant-based medicines) healthcare sector that valued the proper evaluation of products’ quality, safety, and efficacy.

SFI was established in 2010 as a collaboration between Flordis Pty. Ltd. and SOHO Group. The company’s brands now include Flordis, Ginsana®, ProThera®, Klaire Labs®, and Complementary Prescriptions™.

“Today, Soho Flordis International operates in over 35 countries and has 68 clinical trials published on our own products,” said Nigel Pollard, CEO of SFI. “Through our research company, SFI Research, we have eight ongoing clinical trials on our own products and those of our partners. Our partners in research and marketing are other pioneers of clinically proven natural medicines, such as Zeller’s, Madaus/Rottapharm (Meda), Steigerwald (Bayer), Bionorica, Ilhwa, and Pharmatoka.”

“SFI has established itself as one of the leading herbal dietary supplement companies with a portfolio of products that are well-characterized not only with regard to the phytochemical composition but also their research regarding safety and efficacy,” said Dr. Gafner. “The number of current and past clinical studies is a testament to their commitment to high-quality products. I congratulate SFI for their outstanding work and for their well-deserved recognition in the form of the 2014 ABC Varro E. Tyler Award for Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research.”

Ginsana, which contains the standardized extract of Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng, Araliaceae) root, G115®, has a 35-year history of scientific investigation and clinical use for increasing physical endurance and improving immune function. (Ginsana and G115 are trademarks of Pharmaton SA of Lugano, Switzerland; SFI acquired Ginsana in July 2013.) Initially patented in 1960, Ginsana is the world's first chemically standardized botanical extract.

Flordis also produces KeenMind®, which contains the standardized extract of a traditional Ayurvedic plant from India known as brahmi (Bacopa monnieri, Plantaginaceae). SFI's bacopa extract, CDRI08®, has been shown to promote memory retention and recall, concentration, and focus in five human clinical trials. Like G115, CDRI08 has decades of research behind it and is currently undergoing multiple clinical trials to measure its efficacy in a number of different populations. These trials are a testament to SFI's commitment to furthering product development and clinical evidence of the quality and potency of its products.

“We are really delighted to receive the American Botanical Council’s Varro E. Tyler Award,” said Pollard. “In fact, our company’s vision was inspired by Professor Tyler and Mr. Blumenthal at a conference 16 years ago in Australia. Prof. Tyler’s principles of rational phytotherapy underpin these investments and our vision for natural products in mainstream medicine.”

“SFI is a company built on the research-based values that Professor Tyler promoted regarding developing and marketing clinically tested phytomedicinal products,” said Blumenthal. As a research- and science-based organization, ABC is pleased to be able to recognize SFI for its many clinical trials and related research achievements.”

Herbal Advocate Loren Israelsen Receives ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award

Loren D. Israelsen, president of UNPA, was selected as the recipient of ABC's 2014 Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award.

This is the third award of its kind to be presented by ABC. The Herbal Community Builder Award is granted annually to an individual in the herbal medicine community who has played a significant role in creating a sense of community among herbalists, researchers, members of the herb and natural products communities, and related groups who work in the area of medicinal plants.

Among his many noteworthy accomplishments, since 1991, Israelsen has served as the president of UNPA (formerly the Utah Natural Products Alliance), a global industry trade association dedicated to supporting companies and consumers committed to high-quality natural health products.

It is especially apt that he is the recipient of the Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award for 2014, the year in which the herbal and dietary supplements community observed the 20-year anniversary of the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), for which Israelsen was integral to framing and seeing through into law.

Israelsen earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Utah State University, after which he studied at Oxford University's Queen's College Jurisprudence Program in the United Kingdom. He received his Juris Doctor from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Mr. Israelsen is an expert on the regulation of herbs and dietary supplements in the United States and internationally. He has served as an advisor to or officer in numerous industry and nonprofit organizations, as well as government agencies.

Over the course of his venerable career, Israelsen has served as vice president and general counsel for the American Herbal Products Association, and he co-founded and provided general counsel for the European American Phytomedicine Coalition. Israelsen also has acted as an advisor to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, as an industry liaison to the Food and Drug Administration's expert advisory committee on ephedra (Ephedra sinica, Ephedraceae), and as an advisory board member for the Office of Technology Assessment’s Working Group on Dietary Supplement Regulation. Further, he was an expert panel member for both the Institute of Food Technologists 2005 Functional Food Report and the Department of Defense/RAND study concerning regulation of dietary supplements in the US military.

Loren is a widely respected source of rational perspectives and insights into the regulation of herbs and dietary supplements in the United States, said Blumenthal. “He is a close friend and trusted advisor to numerous people in and outside the American herb industry, including many researchers and integrative healthcare practitioners. I am deeply grateful for his long-term friendship and for the support he has given to so many people over the past three decades. He has really been instrumental in helping to build a sense of community among many responsible elements of the herb community.”

“To receive an award named after one of my great mentors for contributing to the betterment of the herbal community is as great an honor as I can imagine,” said Israelsen. “We all follow in the footsteps and on the shoulders of so many who devoted their hearts and minds to the protection and advancement of botanical medicine and its traditions and culture.”

“Being honored as one who has tried to carry on that tradition, in the hope of building the herbal community, warms my heart beyond words,” he continued. “My thanks to the American Botanical Council for being a strong and clear voice of our community and for extending the hand of friendship and recognition through this award.

“Loren is one of those rare jewels that this industry is highly fortunate to have in its midst. His measured, thoughtful, and insightful approaches to the issues and challenges we face on a daily basis reinforce not only his value — but also his values — to the greater community. The UNPA staff and all of its members laud this award and look forward to many more years of his wisdom and leadership,” said Frank Lampe, vice president of communications and industry relations for UNPA, who has known and been a colleague to Israelsen for more than 27 years.

Supplement Pioneer Terry Lemerond Receives First ABC Champion Award

The inaugural American Botanical Council Champion Award was granted to Terry Lemerond, founder and president of EuroPharma, Inc., of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The ABC Champion Award was created to recognize an individual or individuals who have been outstanding supporters of ABC, helping significantly to promote the achievement of ABC's nonprofit educational mission. The award was given to Lemerond by Blumenthal just prior to the 10th Annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony in Anaheim, California.

Lemerond's contributions to the natural health sphere over the course of his more than 40-year career are manifold. His self-proclaimed mission is to “improve the health of America.”

Preceding his founding of EuroPharma, a botanical and dietary supplement manufacturer and distributor to natural food stores, and its sister company, EuroMedica, a manufacturer of dietary supplements for health professionals, Terry founded and owned both Enzymatic Therapy, Inc. and PhytoPharmica, Inc. before he sold the companies in 2000. Enzymatic Therapy was instrumental in being one of the first companies in North America to offer a retail line of standardized herbal extracts (e.g., ginkgo [Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgoaceae], milk thistle [Silybum marianum, Asteraceae], et al.) for which he partnered with the respected global extract manufacturer Indena of Milan, Italy.

A veteran of the natural foods industry, Terry started in the natural products business in 1969 when he purchased Bay Natural Foods, an independent natural food store in Green Bay. He sold the store along with Enzymatic Therapy in 2000, and then started EuroPharma and his new health food store Terry Naturally in 2007.

Lemerond has developed more than 400 natural products, empowers health education through his various Terry Talks Nutrition outlets, and has authored two books — Seven Keys to Vibrant Health (1995) and Seven Keys to Unlimited Personal Achievement (1997). Among the various Terry Talks Nutrition programs is a live radio show, which Terry hosts weekly.

“Terry has been a good friend and great ABC supporter for over 25 years, since the earliest days of ABC,” said Blumenthal. “He is a strong believer in the value of education to help consumers and health professionals learn about the beneficial roles that herbs and other dietary supplements play in a healthy lifestyle. Throughout the years, Terry has been one of ABC’s most consistent supporters of the organization in general and of many of our publications and programs. In addition to providing ongoing support of ABC’s programs, Terry is often one of the first to support, or even help launch, a new ABC educational initiative.”

“I am deeply honored to receive the Herbal Champion Award from ABC,” said Lemerond. “I find it extremely gratifying to be able to support the herbal community as well as ABC.” He continued, “ABC assures fair and honest reporting on herbal medicine to the media and to researchers and health professionals worldwide. This organization takes herbal medicine to a whole new level of professionalism. I encourage everyone who is dedicated to protecting our rights and choice of complementary medicine to support ABC.”

“ABC is always grateful for the many hundreds of industry and community leaders who support our nonprofit educational mission,” added Blumenthal. “Everyone who supports us often has their special way(s) of doing so. However, Terry stands out,” he noted. “His generosity and strong belief in ABC's unique role as an agent of social and cultural change have been top notch. It's people like Terry Lemerond that have been instrumental in ABC's growth and long-term successes for almost 27 years.”

Acknowledging his generous support of the natural foods and dietary supplements industry and natural health communities, Terry has been the recipient of such honors as the NPA's 2008 Industry Champion Award, the Southeast Natural Products Association's 2013 President's Award, and the Natural Products Association Southwest's 2010 President's Award.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of being a part of the herb and natural health community for over 45 years,” said Blumenthal, “is the quality of interesting, highly independent, and accomplished people I’ve met over the years. I am profoundly grateful for the many amazing, intelligent, sincere, and deeply committed people I’ve met in this community who are helping to raise the consciousness of Americans about the value of good nutrition and natural health. Many of these people become close friends, not only professionally, but personally. Terry is one of those people.”