Get Involved
About Us
Our Members

American Botanical Council Presents Annual Botanical Excellence Awards


The American Botanical Council (ABC) hosted its 12th annual American Botanical Celebration and Awards ceremony on March 9, 2017, 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 the prestigious ABC Botanical Excellence Awards. The event also provided a unique opportunity to acknowledge the much-appreciated support of ABC Sponsor Members.

At the celebration, approximately 350 guests came together to support 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.

Medicinal plant expert Josef Brinckmann was named the third recipient of the ABC Champion Award. ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal introduced Brinckmann, who spoke about his love of herbs and medicinal plants, their sustainability, and the fact that his extensive volunteer work for ABC’s unique nonprofit educational mission does not seem like “work” to him since he loves herbs so passionately.

The Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award was presented by ABC Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, to Brassica Protection Products, a phytomedicine company based in Baltimore, Maryland. CEO Tony Talalay accepted the award on behalf of the company.

For the second consecutive year, the James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award was presented to a book focused on aromatherapy: Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology, and Applications, 2nd edition, edited by K. Hüsnü Can Başer, PhD, and Gerhard Buchbauer, PhD. The award was accepted by Başer’s son, Bala.

The Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award was presented to Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, PhD, President of the Republic of Mauritius. Gurib-Fakim accepted the award via a pre-recorded video.

The fifth annual Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award was announced to the group assembled at the ABC Celebration and was presented by Blumenthal to Ikhlas Khan, PhD, the director of the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) at the University of Mississippi (UM), at the annual International Conference on the Science of Botanicals (ICSB) at UM on April 4.





Handbook of Essential Oils Receives Duke Award for Excellence in Botanical Literature Award

The Duke Award was created in 2006 to honor economic botanist and author James A. Duke, PhD. Along with his many 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. ABC gives the award annually to books that contribute significantly to the medicinal plant-related literature, and the fields of botany, taxonomy, ethnobotany, phytomedicine, and other disciplines.

ABC previously recognized essential oils and their clinical applications with the 2015 award to Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Healthcare, 3rd edition. Başer and Buchbauer’s Handbook of Essential Oils offers a different contribution to the literature by providing a greater scientific understanding of the production, chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, and other relevant aspects of essential oils.

“Essential oils are one of the fastest growing segments of the herbal product market,” noted Blumenthal. “Last year, we bestowed the Duke Award to Dr. Jane Buckle for her excellent book, which documents the evidence-based data for the safe and effective therapeutic uses of many essential oils. This year, we recognize another excellent reference book that provides much of the chemical, quality control, pharmacological, and toxicological bases supporting many of these therapeutic uses.”

Başer is a professor of pharmacognosy at the Near East University in Northern Cyprus, and Buchbauer is the head of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Diagnostics at the University of Vienna in Austria. “I am deeply grateful to Mark Blumenthal and the selection committee for bestowing upon my colleague and me this highly prestigious award,” wrote Başer. “The current and future research into essential oils and their volatile constituents is expected to lead to a better understanding and discovery of potential new uses of these valuable natural products.”

Buchbauer also expressed his gratitude for the award. “We are very pleased about the acknowledgment of our efforts to further develop the science of essential oils,” he wrote. “The goal to provide a strong scientific basis for essential oils was and is our everlasting concern.”

Gafner congratulated the authors, noting that “with its broad coverage of aromatic plant agriculture, essential oil manufacturing, quality control, and medicinal and culinary uses, this book has become reference on essential oils in the cosmetic industry and beyond.”

Past Duke Award recipients include: Clinical Aromatherapy, 3rd edition (2015); Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge (2014); Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, 2nd edition (2013); Medicinal Plants and the Legacy of Richard E. Schultes (2012; reference/technical category) and Smoke Signals (2012; consumer/popular category); Healing Spices (2011; consumer/popular category) and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia’s Botanical Pharmacognosy (2011; reference/technical category); Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health (2010); An Oak Spring Herbaria (2009); and Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition (2008).




President of Republic of Mauritius Recognized for Outstanding Contributions to Medicinal Plant Research

Gurib-Fakim leads her country as an advocate for African medicinal plants, and has made valuable contributions to the knowledge of the medicinal properties of plants growing on Mauritius and the surrounding islands in the Indian Ocean.

ABC presents the annual award, named in honor of celebrated professor Norman R. Farnsworth, PhD, to an individual who has made significant contributions to research in the fields of ethnopharmacology and/or other areas of medicinal plant research. Farnsworth, who died in 2011, was one of the co-founding members of ABC’s Board of Trustees, a highly published and internationally renowned research professor of pharmacognosy, and a senior university scholar in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Blumenthal praised Gurib-Fakim’s “extraordinary” achievements. “ABC is deeply honored to be able to recognize the excellent ethnobotanical, pharmacognostic, and conservation efforts and publications of Her Excellency Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim,” he said. “Her tireless work on medicinal plants in the Indian Ocean and East African region has already garnered several well-deserved and high-profile international awards. I am certain that the late Professor Farnsworth would approve of ABC’s selection of Dr. Gurib-Fakim to receive his eponymous award.”

Gurib-Fakim was elected as Mauritius’s first female president in 2015. Prior to her election, she worked as managing director of Centre International de Développement Pharmaceutique (CIDP) Research and Innovation, where she researched the indigenous medicinal plants of Mauritius. Her research interests include ethnobotany and ethnomedicine, and the bioactivity, chemical composition, and quality control of medicinal plants, particularly those with antimicrobial properties. She has authored or co-authored more than 100 research publications and dozens of books, including AnIllustrated Guide to the Flora of Mauritius and the Indian Ocean Islands, a three-volume compilation of The Medicinal Plants of Mauritius, Chemistry for Sustainable Development in Africa, and the African Herbal Pharmacopoeia.

“Biodiversity and indigenous knowledge systems underpin life on earth,” said Gurib-Fakim. “Africa’s unique biodiversity will continue to offer humankind new leads and medicine provided that we conserve, document, and validate the traditional knowledge associated with medicinal plants. The latter remains a reservoir of innovative ingredients that not only respond to the needs of industry but also buffer us against ailments that do not yet exist.”

Gafner commented: “Research on the medicinal properties of plants from the African continent is certainly close to my heart, since this was the topic of my graduate research. Therefore, I am very pleased that this year’s award goes to Her Excellency Dr. Gurib-Fakim. Her work on the chemistry, bioactivity, and medical uses of medicinal plants of Africa and the Indian Ocean represents the very essence of what this award intends to recognize: an exceptional career in pharmacognosy research.”

Past recipients of the Farnsworth award include: John T. Arnason, PhD (2015); 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).




Brassica Protection Products Receives Tyler Award for Phytomedicinal Research

Since its founding in 1997, Brassica Protection Products has been dedicated to the research and development of beneficial phytochemicals from cruciferous vegetables in the genus Brassica.

The ABC Tyler Award was created to honor one of the most respected scientists in late-20th century herbal medicine and pharmacognosy. Tyler was an early trustee of ABC, and vice president of academic affairs and dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Purdue University. He was the senior author of six editions of a leading pharmacognosy textbook, and numerous other professional and popular books and academic articles. 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.

Through partnership with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Brassica Protection Products has laid the foundation for understanding the medicinal properties of broccoli. Paul Talalay, MD, Distinguished Service Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at Johns Hopkins, was an early proponent of cancer prevention through the intake of specific diet-derived vegetable compounds. He discovered the ability of sulforaphane, a compound produced by cruciferous vegetables, to induce the production of enzymes that help eliminate toxic metabolites from the body. It was proposed that this was one of the mechanisms by which broccoli exerts its cancer-preventive activity.

“Being honored with the ABC’s prestigious Varro E. Tyler Award is a wonderful tribute to a lifetime of research by my father, Paul Talalay, who has dedicated himself to understanding the body’s own protective systems and elucidating the benefits of broccoli, glucoraphanin, and sulforaphane in promoting human health,” said Talalay. “This award is a confirmation of Brassica’s mission to bring scientifically valid nutritional products to consumers. It is especially gratifying as it recognizes the company’s primary goal — to continually ensure quality commercialization efforts that honor the extraordinary quality of the science.”

After a number of additional studies evaluated the properties of broccoli extracts in vitro and in animals, Paul Talalay founded Brassica Protection Products with his colleague Jed Fahey, ScD. One year later, they published findings on the human metabolism and elimination of sulforaphane and other sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables, which paved the way for subsequent clinical studies. Paul Talalay and Fahey have published about half a dozen clinical trials that have investigated the effects of broccoli extracts. These trials have shown the ability of broccoli extracts to attenuate gastritis by reducing the colonization of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, and by reducing the time it takes to eliminate airborne pollutants from the body.

Blumenthal noted: “ABC previously granted the Varro E. Tyler Award to companies that committed to funding clinical research on their proprietary ingredients or products. This year we are recognizing the enormously significant and pioneering research of Paul Talalay in the area of human nutrition, particularly on phytochemicals in plants in the family Brassicaceae for the prevention of certain cancers.”

Previous recipients of the ABC Tyler Award include MediHerb/Integria Healthcare (2015); SFI Flordis International (2014); Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Company (2013); Horphag Research (2012); Bioforce AG (2011); New Chapter (2010); Bionorica AG (2009); Indena SpA (2008); and Dr. Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals (2007).




Medicinal Plant Expert Josef Brinckmann Receives ABC Champion Award

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

“While those of us working in the field are not carrying out the work in hopes of an eventual award, I am deeply appreciative that my life’s work for the sustainable harvesting and rational use of medicinal plants is being recognized by the American Botanical Council,” wrote Brinckmann. “I am genuinely grateful for the opportunities given to me over the years to research and write about the plants in support of ABC’s educational mission.”

Since 1979, Brinckmann has worked for the Sebastopol, California-based medicinal tea company Traditional Medicinals. He joined the company as manager of operations and purchasing, and later served as vice president of research and development and vice president of sustainability. In 2016, Brinckmann became a research fellow for medicinal plants and the botanical supply chain.

Brinckmann is a frequent contributor to ABC publications, particularly the quarterly peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram. Beginning with issue 90 in 2011, he has co-authored more than 20 herb profiles with ABC Special Projects Director Gayle Engels. Brinckmann has also written numerous feature articles, including the cover story of issue 75 on Peruvian maca and a feature in issue 90 on quality standards for botanical ingredients. Additionally, he has served as a peer reviewer for dozens of articles in ABC publications.

This award could not go to a better recipient. Josef is a true champion of the plants,” said Engels. “I wish that all of ABC’s constituents were aware of how tremendously beneficial his participation is to ABC and its educational mission. I am in awe of his breadth of knowledge and commitment to quality and am honored to have worked with him over the years.”

Blumenthal also praised Brinckmann’s significant and ongoing contributions to ABC. “Previous recipients of this award — my good friends Terry Lemerond and Ed Smith — were acknowledged for their generous donations to ABC to support our unique nonprofit research and educational mission, publications, and programs,” he said. “This year we acknowledge Josef Brinckmann for investing an immense amount of his personal time and energy in providing ABC with his extensive knowledge and global experience to support ABC’s numerous educational publications and programs.”

In addition to his work at Traditional Medicinals, Brinckmann is an international consultant on medicinal plants market intelligence for the International Trade Centre, a founding member of the FairWild Foundation’s board of trustees, a member of the United States Pharmacopeia’s expert committee on botanical dietary supplements and herbal medicines, and an ABC Advisory Board member.

In 2016, Brinckmann was granted an honorary doctorate by the California Institute for Integral Studies for his highly valued and appreciated global work in sustainability of medicinal and aromatic plants.

Previous recipients of the ABC Champion Award include Ed Smith (2015), medical herbalist and co-founder of Herb Pharm, and Terry Lemerond (2014), founder of EuroPharma, Inc. and Enzymatic Therapy.




Ikhlas Khan Receives 2016 ABC Mark Blumenthal Community Builder Award

This annual award 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 individuals who work in the area of medicinal plants.

“I am honored to receive this recognition — this award named after Mark Blumenthal, who is a living example of a community builder,” said Khan.

Blumenthal said that “through organizing the International Conference on the Science of Botanicals (ICSB) for 17 years, in partnership with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Professor Ikhlas Khan has created a global community of researchers, regulators, and others who have an interest in furthering the appropriate production and responsible use of scientifically supported medicinal plants products.”

On January 1, 2017, Khan became the director of the NCNPR at UM in Oxford, Mississippi, following the retirement of former director Larry Walker, PhD. Previously, Khan had been the associate director of the NCNPR. The NCNPR is part of UM’s Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (RIPS) and is a primary partner with ABC and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) in the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program.

Khan’s primary research interests include drug discovery from medicinal plants and the development of reference standards and laboratory analytical methods for botanical identity, purity, and safety. He is a research professor of pharmacognosy at UM.

In addition, Khan, who was born in Amroha, India, is the director of the Sino-US Traditional Chinese Medicine Research Center, director of the Center for Research of Indian Systems of Medicine, and coordinator of NCNPR efforts at the Center for Water and Wetlands Resources, which are all at UM.


Khan received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh, India. In 1987, he received a doctorate in pharmacy from the Institute for Pharmaceutical Biology in Munich, Germany, where he studied under internationally renowned medicinal plant research expert Hildebert Wagner, PhD. In 1988, he joined RIPS at UM as a postdoctoral research associate. In 1990, he received a postdoctoral position with the Department of Pharmacy at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1992, he was appointed as a research scientist at UM.

He has authored or co-authored more than 700 research articles and has been a co-editor of the highly regarded research journal Planta Medica and a foreign editor of the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Khan also served on a committee for the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the US National Institutes of Health, an expert panel for the United States Pharmacopeia, an expert advisory committee of the Natural Products Health Directorate of Health Canada, and the Advisory Board of ABC.

He co-directs the NCNPR’s medical cannabis farm, which supplies high-quality medical cannabis and its constituents to the National Institute on Drug Abuse Drug Supply Program, which then distributes the materials to medical marijuana researchers under contract.

Khan, who speaks four languages (English, German, Hindi, and Urdu), has been the recipient of numerous awards for his scientific achievements, including the American Society of Pharmacognosy’s Tyler Prize in 2011, the American Herbal Products Association’s Herbal Insight Award in 2010, the FDA’s Commissioner’s Special Citation in 2009, and ABC’s Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award in 2009.

Past recipients of ABC’s Community Builder Award include herbalist and co-founder of the American Herbalists Guild Michael Tierra (2015), president of the United Natural Products Alliance Loren Israelsen (2014), Herb Pharm co-founder Sara Katz (2013), and herbalist and author Rosemary Gladstar (2012).

—ABC Staff