Stepping from a taxi onto a busy street in the SoHo district of Manhattan, New York, one could not feel further removed from the rainforest, the Andes, or any similarly enriching space. Yet something magical happened on the Avenue of the Americas, on the top floor and roof of a beautiful, newly refurbished historic building. As the elevator doors opened, South American music wafted through the air, mixing the scent of essential oils and delectable food and drink with the sounds of laughter and conversation. This was the site of an evening of ideas and connections sponsored by the Aveda Corporation; "Sustainable Health and Beauty — An evening with Andrew Weil and the American Botanical Council Celebrating the Benefits of Medicinal Plants."On the evening of June 11, 2003, Aveda Corporation hosted an event for more than 100 academic and healthcare professionals, leaders in the field of integrative medicine, people from the herbal industry, and representatives of the media from the New York region. In keeping with their vision of "connecting beauty, environment and well-being," Sustainable Health and Beauty was the theme for the evening. Aveda hosted the event to showcase its new Manhattan marketing offices; to support the educational and research work of ABC and launch ABC’s new book, The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs; and to provide an educational and social opportunity for those in attendance. This theme captures the link between the mission of ABC and the vision of Aveda. Sustainability has been a guiding principle for progressive economic development of agricultural and other natural resources. In the same way, progressive companies, organizations and individuals are now increasingly concerned about using sustainable resources and finding ways to maintain the health of entire ecosystems. Sustainable Health and Beauty implies that the methods by which we improve our health and beauty follow the same concepts. Whenever possible, the raw materials, herbs, plants, drugs, and cosmetics used on and in our bodies should be derived from resources that can be renewed, are healthy, and are harvested and tested using ethical, sustainable, and renewable practices. The idea can go further. Through the use of healthy substances and practices, we will sustain health and beauty for our planet and ourselves for many years to come. ABC advocates the use of sustainable practices in harvesting and cultivating the herbs used in herbal medicine. Likewise, Aveda has always advocated the use of organically produced products and sustainable practices in the development of its product lines and business practices.In addition to Dr. Weil, speakers included Aveda Founder Horst Rechelbacher (now founder and president of Intelligent Nutrients), and ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. Chris Hacker, Aveda’s senior vice president for marketing and design, welcomed more than 100 guests and explained the design and purpose of Aveda’s environmentally friendly Manhattan office (Aveda headquarters are in Minneapolis). Rechelbacher then sketched a brief history of the company, and his professional and personal relationship with ABC. Blumenthal expressed his appreciation to Aveda and the many old and new friends who attended the event, saying, "We are deeply grateful for the excellent support ABC receives from Aveda. Just as ABC has been an innovative leader in the field of nonprofit herbal education, Aveda is a universally recognized pioneer and innovator in the cosmetics and salon industries by using ethical and sustainable techniques and practices." He went on to say that "ABC continues to be a primary supplier of science-based information on the benefits of herbs and phytomedicines. For 15 years, ABC has consistently reported on clinical research on herbs – especially when few people even realized that there even was scientific research on herbs." He also provided highlights on ABC’s new book and Safety Labeling Program.
Dr. Weil, a member of ABC’s Advisory Board, discussed the state of integrative medicine. He praised ABC’s role as a leader in bringing solid, science-based herbal information to health practitioners, consumers, government officials, the industry, and the media. Weil and Blumenthal were in New York as faculty members of the eighth Columbia University conference, "Integrating Botanical Medicine into Modern Clinical Practice."
Aveda provided an elegant, all vegetarian, all organic assortment of hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Guests contributed financial support to ABC and were each given an inscribed copy of The Guide, the latest issue of HerbalGram, general information about ABC, information about Aveda, and sample products from Aveda. They also had the opportunity to purchase other ABC books and have The Guide and the other books inscribed by Blumenthal and the other speakers as a memento of the event. Many guests toured Aveda’s new offices, which include plans for an extensive rooftop herbal garden.
During the evening and in the weeks that followed, many people commented that the event was informative, entertaining, and enjoyable. Among the participants was Jill Baron, M.D., a New York city physician who practices integrative medicine. She said, "The event at Aveda was inspiring and informative," she said. "Having such luminaries as Andrew Weil speaking to reinforce the need for complementary and alternative therapies in healing, was supportive of the work of many of the guests. It is really a tribute to Mark Blumenthal and ABC for diligence and hard work in putting botanical medicine on the map as a viable and necessary discipline in the healing armamentarium."
Thieme Publishing <www.thieme.com>, a leading publisher of medical books in Europe, is ABC’s exclusive worldwide distributor of The Guide and of all four of ABC’s German Commission E books and CDs. A representative from Thieme’s US/New York office, Melissa Parsons, coordinated the book signing, distribution, and sales at the event.
Representatives from the national media in attendance were: Business Week, E The Environmental Magazine, Holistic Primary Care, Newsweek, Nutraceuticals World, Shape Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Women’s Wear Daily. Industry representatives came from Abkit/Lichtwer Pharma, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Estee Lauder, Maitake, New Chapter, Novagen, and Vitamin Shoppe, among others.
Aveda and ABC’s evening of "Sustainable Health and Beauty" provided a gathering place for individuals with a common purpose: responsible use of natural renewable resources for long-term natural health. ABC is grateful to all who attended and to Aveda for transporting guests from the busy streets of Manhattan to a magical space of learning and harmony.
– Laura and Wayne Silverman