November 2012 John Weeks Integrator Round-up covering the topics of:  Policy, Business, Integrative Centers, Academics, Natural Products, Professions, and People.

American Botanical Council enters its 25th year, Herbalgram approaches its 100th issue

In early 1980, a very thin publication developed as Herbalgram to link consumers, producers and retailers in the herb industry, was founded by herbalist and entrepreneur Mark Blumenthal. A few years later, this morphed into an organization, the American Botanical Council, which boasted ethnobotanist James Duke, PhD, and pharmacognosist Professor Norman R. Farnsworth, PhD (now deceased) as its additional board members. Roping these two in was a coup for Blumenthal. That they made a good bet is evidenced by the transformation of the newsletter into a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal that boasts amongst its trustees and advisers a who’s who of the botanical field. Meantime, ABC and its numerous other publications have served as a platform for Blumenthal’s incessant travels to speak at scientific, professional and consumer conferences, while also engaging the media and government agencies in many of the key scientific, evidence and claims issues that have marked the field’s maturation. The organization sent a release noting that it is entering its 25th year in which it notes that 100th issue of Herbalgram is slated for publication in late 2013, just as the organization’s Silver Jubilee ends. A piece of good news accompanying the announcement is the election of Tom Newmark to the organization’s Board of Trustees.

Comment: A point of professional pride is a term I served on the ABC’s Board of Trustees. (I continue to serve on their editorial advisory group.) Blumenthal is a one-of-a-kind, street-smart, self-and-friend-taught character with an aesthetic appreciation that grounds botanical science in the beauty of the herbs themselves, and the traditional peoples who have used them, that predates the analysis. ABC’s is a remarkable story. If you haven’t seen the publication, treat yourself. Issue after issue take one into the richness of culture and place that breath life into what most of us know mainly in capsule or pressed-pill form. 


American Herbal Products Association efforts endorsed by consumer group 

Citizens for Health (CFH), a consumer advocacy group associated with the natural products industry, has urged its members to use the website as an educational resource to help them avoid consuming tainted products being sold as dietary supplements. The website was opened in August 2012 by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), an industry organization. A release from AHPA notes that this was the first endorsement by a consumer group. The AHPA release explained that the site was created by AHPA to support heightened efforts by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the dietary supplements industry to address significant public health problems posed by products that are illegally marketed as dietary supplements but contain ingredients that do not qualify as dietary ingredients. The website offers “information on illegal tainted products and identifies the product categories that are most susceptible to adulteration, such as weight loss, sexual enhancement and body building, categories in which consumers may be looking for immediate or dramatic results.” Citizens for Health dubs itself “the voice of the natural health consumer.”

Additional AHPA note
: The organization also announced last month that it received the Patient Partnership Award from Americans for Safe Access (ASA) “in recognition of AHPA’s work during the past year in developing recommendations to state regulators in states where medical cannabis is legal under state law.” The announcement is here.