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American Botanical Council Presents Annual Botanical Excellence Awards

The American Botanical Council (ABC) hosted its 11th annual Botanical Celebration and Awards ceremony on March 10, 2016, at the Hilton Anaheim in Anaheim, California, in conjunction with the Natural Products Expo West trade show. This popular event celebrated outstanding contributions to the herbal community with the presentation of its prestigious ABC Botanical Excellence Awards. The event also provided a unique venue to acknowledge the much-appreciated support of ABC’s Sponsor Members.

The Celebration created an opportunity for approximately 350 guests to come together in support of ABC. Attendees included ABC Sponsor Members, members of the ABC Board of Trustees, Advisory Board, and Director’s Circle, and many others. The evening, which was filled with intriguing conversations, vegetarian hors d’oeuvres, and a wide variety of cocktails, was capped off with a short ceremony during which the Excellence Awards were presented.

The Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award was presented by ABC Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, to MediHerb, an Integria Healthcare brand, of Warwick, Australia. Michelle Sackim, Brand Manager - Retail Brands (NZ), accepted the award on behalf of the phytomedicinal company.

Ed Smith, herbalist and co-founder of Herb Pharm, was presented with the second ABC Champion Award. ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal introduced Smith, who spoke passionately about herbs and their positive impact on the health and lives of millions of people.

The fourth annual Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award was given to Michael Tierra, LAc, OMD, AHG, widely considered the primary founder of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), a group of professional herbal practitioners. Tierra accepted the award and expressed his deep gratitude for being recognized by ABC for his decades of educational efforts in training thousands of herbalists.

For the first time, the James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award was presented to a book focused on aromatherapy: Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Healthcare, 3rd ed., by Jane Buckle, PhD, RN. Buckle’s acceptance was delivered to the audience via video.

Finally, Gafner introduced the Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award recipient, John Thor Arnason, PhD. Arnason, a professor of biology at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, has made significant contributions to the medicinal plant-related scientific literature, particularly in the field of ethnobotany. Arnason also appeared on video to accept his award.

Additional details about the ABC Awards and recipients:

Aromatherapy Book for Clinicians Receives Duke Award for Excellence in Botanical Literature

Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Healthcare, 3rd ed., was written by Jane Buckle, PhD, RN, and published by Churchill Livingstone in 2015.

The ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award was created in 2006 to honor noted economic botanist and author James A. Duke, PhD. It is awarded annually to books that contribute significantly to the medicinal plant-related literature, and the fields of botany, taxonomy, ethnobotany, phytomedicine, and/or other disciplines. Along with his many other prestigious career achievements in economic botany and ethnobotany, and decades of work at the United States Department of Agriculture, 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.

Clinical Aromatherapy is the first completely peer-reviewed and evidence-based book on the clinical uses of essential oils. “The book is intended to give an overview of research into the clinical use of essential oils and how they are currently being used in various hospital departments,” said Buckle. “It is intended for health professionals who might be interested in what clinical aromatherapy could add to their practice and any aromatherapist who wants to know about modern research.”

“I am deeply grateful to the reviewers who gave their time and advice so generously and made the book what it is,” Buckle said. “My aim has always been to put the ‘clinical’ into clinical aromatherapy. It is the chemistry of an essential oil that gives it its therapeutic properties and may indicate the safest way to use it.”

Herbalist and aromatherapist Mindy Green reviewed Clinical Aromatherapy in HerbalGram issue 107. “[Buckle] provides an excellent overview of how essential oils can contribute to a healthier medical system, enhancing patient care and lowering medical costs at a critical time in this community,” Green wrote. “[T]his text examines issues within conventional and integrative medical practices with applications relevant to a variety of settings and circumstances. … I highly recommend this book, both as a resource and a highly informative read; the compilation of bibliographic citations alone is significant.”

Blumenthal similarly praised the work. “Jane Buckle’s book elevates the use of essential oils to a high standard and provides a strong research basis for clinical applications,” he said.

Past recipients of ABC’s Duke Award include: Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge (McGill-Queens University Press, 2014); Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, 2nd ed. (Churchill Livingstone, 2013); Medicinal Plants and the Legacy of Richard E. Schultes (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012) in the reference/technical category and Smoke Signals (Scribner, 2012) in the consumer/popular category; Healing Spices (Sterling Publishing, 2011) in the consumer/popular category and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia’s Botanical Pharmacognosy (CRC Press, 2011) in the reference/technical category; Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health (Churchill Livingstone, 2010); An Oak Spring Herbaria (Oak Spring Garden Library, 2009); and Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

MediHerb Receives Tyler Award for Investment in Phytomedicinal Research

MediHerb, a division of Integria Healthcare, is a leading Australian natural products company that specializes in research-based botanical medicines designed by and for professional health care providers and clinicians.

“This is a great honor and a much-appreciated reward for our many years of research into the phytochemistry, quality, and therapeutic properties of medicinal plants,” said Kerry Bone, a professor and the co-founder of MediHerb and director of research and development.

The ABC Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award was created to honor one of the most respected scientists in late-20th century herbal medicine and pharmacognosy (the study of medicines of natural origin). Professor Tyler was an early trustee of ABC, dean of the Purdue University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 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, as well as numerous other professional and popular books and articles in the academic literature. Tyler encouraged scientific and product integrity, and envisioned a rational phytomedicinal health care sector that valued the proper evaluation of products’ quality, safety, and efficacy.

“I am a firm believer that herbal therapy (or phytotherapy) should always be adding to its clinical evidence base, but in a way that respects and is compatible with its traditional principles,” Bone said. “Understanding complex modern diseases in their totality and applying subtle but effective, chemically complex interventions underpinned by that knowledge is, to me, the height of rationality. This has always guided our research approach.”

Integria Healthcare invests more than $5 million in research and development each year, according to the company. Echinacea Premium and Kava Forte are two of MediHerb’s most popular clinically studied natural products.

“MediHerb and Integria Healthcare have supported around 25 human clinical trials of MediHerb products, 22 of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals,” said Hans Wohlmuth, PhD, manager of research and development at Integria. “In addition to clinical trials, MediHerb has funded a large number of phytochemistry and in vitro studies on botanicals. Much of this work has focused on quality issues, an area in which MediHerb has always been a leader.”

Both Bone and Wohlmuth are members of the ABC Advisory Board.

“ABC is pleased to recognize MediHerb for its strong commitment to conducting clinical research on its herbal products,” Blumenthal said. “I consider MediHerb to be a prime example of Professor Tyler’s wish that herb and phytomedicinal companies document the efficacy of their products through appropriate clinical trials.”

Gafner added: “MediHerb is a company that has invested millions of dollars to back up the benefits of herbal medicine with sound science. This philosophy of testing products in human clinical studies as a basis for rational phytotherapy makes MediHerb a much-deserving awardee.”

Previous recipients of the ABC Tyler Award include Soho Flordis International (2014); Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd. (2013); Horphag Research (2012); Bioforce AG (2011); New Chapter, Inc. (2010); Bionorica AG (2009); Indena SpA (2008); and Dr. Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals (2007).

John T. Arnason, Ethnobotanical Expert, Receives Farnsworth Award for Excellence in Botanical Research

John Thor Arnason, PhD, is a professor of biology at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, where his lab specializes in the phytochemistry and biological activity of plants.

ABC presents this award each year to a person who has made significant contributions to research in the fields of ethnobotany and/or medicinal plant research.

Norman Farnsworth, PhD, who died in 2011 at 81, was one of the co-founding members of ABC’s Board of Trustees, a research professor of pharmacognosy, and a senior university scholar in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“I knew Norman Farnsworth very well,” Arnason said. “I really admired his efforts to make traditional [herbal] medicine a recognized field of study in North America.”

Arnason’s career began in the late 1970s when he worked with Maya healers in Belize. He then did post-doctoral work in Vancouver with Neil Towers, PhD, a pioneer of botanical medicine. In 1980, Arnason started his own lab at the University of Ottawa. He and colleagues studied the ethnobotany of eastern Canada and the adjacent United States. They published an article, “Use of plants for food and medicine by Native Peoples of eastern Canada,” which identified more than 400 medicinal plants with 2,000 uses.

In the 1990s, Blumenthal asked Arnason to be part of ABC’s Ginseng Evaluation Project, which looked at the quality of ginseng (Panax spp., Araliaceae) root products available on the North American market. Also in the 1990s, Arnason and his colleagues revised details of the taxonomy, phytochemistry, and biological activity of the genus Echinacea (Asteraceae).

Now, Arnason is working with the northern Cree people, in collaboration with Pierre Haddad, PhD, to look for new treatments for diabetes, a serious health problem on native reserves in Canada and the US. “What we found is that some of the plants have completely novel compounds in them that are as active as standard diabetic drugs,” Arnason said.

In addition, Arnason’s team is working with Costa Rican botanists and Maya healers to find mental health treatments. This work involves plants in the little-studied Marcgraviaceae family. “The plants in this family are very good at reducing anxiety,” Arnason said. He has also worked with traditional healers in Borneo, East Timor, and Togo.

“Thor exemplifies some of the best aspects of medicinal plant research,” Blumenthal said. “He is an ethnobotanist, working with indigenous peoples who share their traditional plant wisdom, and he is also a laboratory scientist who explores the chemistry of these plants.”

Gafner added: “I consider Thor to be one of the foremost North American researchers in ethnobotany. He has also contributed to our knowledge of many of the more widely used botanicals. But most of all, he is a very generous and humble person.”

Past recipients of the Farnsworth award include: Harry Fong, PhD (2014); Gordon Cragg, PhD (2013); De-An Guo, PhD (2012); Djaja Soejarto, PhD (2011); A. Douglas Kinghorn, PhD (2010); Rudolf Bauer, PhD (2009); Ikhlas Khan, PhD (2008); Hildebert Wagner, PhD (2007); Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD (2006); and Joseph Betz, PhD (2005).

‘Herbal’ Ed Smith, Medical Herbalist and Herb Pharm Co-founder, Receives ABC Champion Award

Ed Smith, medical herbalist and co-founder of Herb Pharm, an herbal products manufacturing company in Williams, Oregon, received ABC’s second Champion Award. In addition to Herb Pharm’s unwavering support of ABC and its educational mission and programs, Smith recently made a generous personal donation.

The ABC Champion Award was created to recognize an individual or individuals who have been outstanding supporters of ABC, helping the organization promote and achieve its mission. The generosity of ABC’s friends and members is vital to the nonprofit’s continued success and growth.

“I have always appreciated Ed’s strong personal and professional commitment to herb ingredient quality, and I consider him to be one of the best herbal medicine makers in North America,” said Blumenthal. “Ed is a highly passionate advocate for the herbal agenda.”

Smith’s career spans more than four decades of learning and teaching about herbs and their benefits. During this time, he has given countless lectures, held herb classes, and traveled many miles. Smith has studied and sourced herbs in many regions of the world, including western Europe, northern and eastern Africa, Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific Islands.

“The things I saw and experienced definitely sparked my passionate interest in herbs and seeded my life and work as an herbalist,” said Smith.

Smith was a founding member of AHG, taught at the California School of Herbal Studies for more than a decade, and co-founded Herb Pharm in 1979. Smith has worked with some of the most highly respected herbalists and teachers in the community, including renowned herbalist John Christopher, with whom he co-founded the Foundation for Natural Living and the Pacific College of Naturopathic Medicine. He has also worked with Ann Wigmore, the founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute.

“I am very happy to be receiving the ABC Champion Award from the American Botanical Council,” said Smith. “I’m honored by this recognition of my and Herb Pharm’s support of ABC and its important work for herbal medicine consumers, the American herb industry, and the herbal academic and sciences community.”

“Ed Smith has been a close personal friend and professional colleague for almost 40 years, since we met at an Herb Trade Association herb symposium at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1978,” Blumenthal said. “From the very beginning of ABC in 1988, he and his company Herb Pharm have always been at the forefront of companies that have advocated for ABC and its unique nonprofit educational mission to promote the responsible use of herbs and phytomedicines.”

ABC created the Champion award in 2015. The first recipient was Terry Lemerond, founder of Europharma, Inc. and Enzymatic Therapy.

Michael Tierra, Author, Clinician, and Herbal Advocate, Receives ABC Community Builder Award

The annual award, named for ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal, is given to an individual 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.

Tierra said he is “very honored” to receive the award. “Coming from HerbalGram and Mark Blumenthal, as a representative of the American Botanical Council, an organization that I’ve followed for many years with a lot of respect, it means a lot to me,” he said.

Tierra is an author, licensed acupuncturist, doctor of Oriental medicine, and an AHG professional member. He began studying herbs in 1968 while living in an interdependent community called Black Bear Ranch in northern California. He learned about various medicinal plants from the Karuk and Yurok Native Americans, and eventually began harvesting the plants and giving them back to the Native community, which, at that time, had forgotten much of its traditional herbal knowledge.

He then studied with herbalists John Christopher and Norma Myers, and, after moving to San Francisco, began teaching herbal medicine and treating patients. He also studied with Chinese herbalist Foon Lee Wong. After the California law that legalized the practice of acupuncture (and the use of herbal medicines in the practice) was passed in 1978, Tierra was among the first to be licensed.

He moved to Santa Cruz where he studied Ayurvedic medicine with Baba Hari Dass, and, in 1983, published The Way of Herbs (Lotus Press), based on his clinical experiences. In the book, which is still in print and has become a best-seller, he began advertising his correspondence course. This course eventually grew into the East West School of Planetary Herbology, which combines Ayurvedic, Western, and Chinese herbal medicine systems in a unique way. According to Tierra, at least 9,000 students have taken his course worldwide.

“My nature has always been such that any information I learn, I’m always eager to share with the world with a great deal of zeal and enthusiasm. And I’m always eager to empower other people who want to be herbalists,” Tierra said.

In 1989, when herbs in North America were not being used in any organized way clinically or professionally, Tierra and other herbalists founded AHG, which gives memberships to professional herbalists based on peer-reviewed evaluations.

“Michael is considered the founding force of AHG, and for that very reason alone, he warranted consideration for our Community Builder award,” said Blumenthal. “He is one of North America’s most venerated herbalists, and his many writings, teachings, and activities have resulted in creating a growing community of professional herbal practitioners throughout the United States and beyond.”

About a year and a half ago, Tierra started the East West Free Herbal Clinic to provide free herbal treatments to underserved members of the community, including the homeless, mentally handicapped, and veterans. The clinic also trains young herbalists to treat patients, harvest herbs, and make herbal preparations. Tierra donates plant materials to the cause and has persuaded companies like Threshold Enterprises and Bio Essence Corporation to donate as well. “And that’s been quite a deep level of fulfillment in my life at this point,” he said.

Tierra is also an avid classical pianist, choral conductor, and composer. He recently commissioned a piece for solo piano on the theme of herbs and healing, which he premiered on March 20 in Santa Cruz.

Past recipients of ABC’s Mark Blumenthal Community Builder Award are Loren Israelsen (2014), president and founder of the United Natural Products Alliance, Herb Pharm co-founder Sara Katz (2013), and herbalist and author Rosemary Gladstar (2012).

—ABC Staff