American Botanical Council honors herbal experts and publications in 2023 awards

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The ABC Celebration and Botanical Excellence Awards were presented on March 8, 2023, in Anaheim, CA, during the Natural Products Expo West trade show.

Photo © AdobeStock.com/Juliaap

Photo © AdobeStock.com/Juliaap

The American Botanical Council (ABC; Austin, TX) honored a host of herbal researchers, experts, and authors in its 2023 ABC Celebration and Botanical Excellence Awards. The annual awards were presented on March 8, 2023, in Anaheim, CA, during the Natural Products Expo West trade show.

Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award

The 2023 ABC Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award was presented to Michael Heinrich, PhD, a professor of ethnopharmacology and pharmacognosy based at the University College London School of Pharmacy. According to ABC, this award recognizes “an individual who has made significant research contributions in the fields of pharmacognosy (the study of drugs of natural origin, usually from plants), ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, or other scientific disciplines related to medicinal plants.”

Heinrich was recognized for his vast body of scientific research, including contributing to more than 450 scientific publications. Also, in 2022, he coauthored a journal article reviewing evidence on the use of herbal medicines as adjuvant symptomatic treatments for COVID-19. At University College London, Heinrich teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate students about medicinal plant and natural product research. His research group’s studies include “metabolomic approaches in medicinal plant research, quality and safety of herbal medicinal products, access and benefit sharing, medicinal plant value chains, global biodiversity, the use of traditional medicines for the prevention and early-stage management of diabetes and cancer chemoprevention, and food and medicinal plant use in the Mediterranean, Mexico, Central America, and urban Great Britain, among other topics.”

Steven Foster Botanical Conservation and Sustainability Award

The FairWild Foundation received the 2023 ABC Steven Foster Botanical Conservation and Sustainability Award. ABC describes FairWild as “a Swiss nonprofit organization that, since 2008, has promoted the sustainable, traceable, and ethical trade of wild plant ingredients and products.”

FairWild is the creator of the FairWild Standard, which is applied to protect wild plants used in international trade. “The FairWild Standard is a vigorous, voluntary standard for the sustainable wild collection of medicinal and aromatic plants, gums and resins, fruits, nuts and seeds, and mushrooms,” ABC's press release states.

ABC Champion Award

The 2023 ABC Champion Award went to Christine Burdick-Bell, who is the executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary at Pharmavite, a manufacturer of nutritional products and dietary supplements. Says ABC’s press release, “The ABC Champion Award, which was first presented in 2015, is given to individuals who have devoted significant time or funds to support ABC’s nonprofit research and educational mission, publications, and programs.”

Among other contributions, Burdick-Bell was thanked for donating her legal expertise to ABC and to the development of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program’s (BAPP’s) “Best Practices Standardized Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Disposal/Destruction of Irreparably Defective Articles.” Burdick-Bell was recognized for being one of the first leaders from a major dietary supplement company to endorse the BAPP SOP and for implementing the BAPP SOPs at Pharmavite. The SOPs advise industry members how to remove adulterated and “irreparably defective” herbal and supplement ingredients permanently from the global supply chain.

Varro E. Tyler Award for Excellence in Phytomedicinal Research

ABC’s 2023 Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award went to botanical ingredients supplier Sabinsa Corp. (East Windsor, NJ). “As part of its commitment to research-based products, Sabinsa employs more than 120 full-time scientists working in India and the United States,” ABC’s press release states. “Its research departments cover a range of topics, including phytochemistry, synthetic chemistry, tissue culture, agri-biotechnology, analytical research and development, microbiology, and supercritical fluid extraction, among others.” Nearly 100 human clinical trials have been done alone on Sabinsa’s flagship Curcumin C3 Complex.

Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award

The 2023 Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award was presented to Mimi Hernandez, RH (AHG), the executive director of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG). States the press release, “Currently, she facilitates AHG’s Sanctuary Dreamers Meetups, which are events designed to offer support and tools for those who want to become members of the United Plant Savers (UpS) Botanical Sanctuary Network, and stewards the PonderLand native plant sanctuary in Polk County, North Carolina, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

Hernandez is an herbalist and ethnobotanist. She holds a master’s degree in herbalism from the Tai Sophia Institute, which is now called the Maryland University of Integrative Health, and “draws on the tradition of curanderismo, the holistic system of Latin American folk herbalism, and her Colombian and Mexican heritage.”

James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award

The 2023 ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award, which annually recognizes books “that contribute significantly to the medicinal plant–related literature and the fields of botany, taxonomy, ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, phytomedicine, and other related disciplines,” went to two publications.

In the reference/technical category, the award went to Medicinal Herbs in Primary Care: An Evidence-Guided Reference for Healthcare Providers (Elsevier, 2022), written by Jean M. Bokelmann, MD.

In the consumer/popular category, the award went to Ginseng Diggers: A History of Root and Herb Gathering in Appalachia (University Press of Kentucky, 2022), written by Luke Manget, PhD.

Fredi Kronenberg Excellence in Research and Education in Botanicals for Women’s Health Award

Leanna Standish, PhD, ND, LAc, FABNO, received ABC’s 2023 Fredi Kronenberg Excellence in Research and Education in Botanicals for Women’s Health Award. Standish is a neuroscientist and naturopath physician board certified in naturopathic oncology, and is co-founder and co-director of the Advanced Integrative Medical Science (AIMS) Institute in Seattle, WA.

A senior research scientist at Bastyr University’s School of Naturopathic Medicine (Kenmore, WA), an affiliate faculty member at Sonoran University of Healthy Sciences (Tempe, AZ), and founder and CEO of Sacred Medicines PBC, a botanical drug company dedicated to developing and clinically testing standardized psychoactive plant medicines, Standish was recognized for research including studying treatments that North American naturopathic physicians can use for breast cancer and the use of medicinal mushrooms in breast and prostate cancer.

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