Research

World's largest medicinal plant organization endorses ABC's adulterants program

15-Jan-2014
Last updated on 08-Sep-2014 at 16:51 GMT - By Hank Schultz
World's largest medicinal plant organization endorses ABC's adulterants program
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The American Botanical Council has acquired a powerful partner.  The world’s largest organization concerned with medicial plants has endorsed ABC’s adulterants program, which researches and publicizes the substances used to adulterate many botanicals in the marketplace.

The Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (known by its acronym GA, based on its former German name) is the largest international scientific society devoted to medicinal plant research, with members from more than 90 countries. In a letter from GA President Prof. Matthias Hamburger, Ph.D., to Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC) and general manager of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program, Dr. Hamburger notified Blumenthal of the GA's decision to endorse the Program.

ABC’s program is run in connection with the American Herbal Pharmacopoia and the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi.

“This is really a plum for us.  This is a very highly respected organization,” Blumenthal told NutraIngredients-USA. “This really shows that there is concern about adulteration among experts around the world.”

Worldwide issue

"In recent years, the use of botanicals has substantially increased worldwide. When purchasing botanicals, consumers assume that herbal materials and products derived from them are of good quality and that these products can be safely used. However, adulteration of botanicals is a serious and growing problem,” said Dr Hamburger, who is a professor of pharmaceutical biology in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

“Unfortunately, the risks involved with intake of adulterated products are largely unknown to consumers, and the awareness of actors in the field is insufficient. We are acutely aware of the problems related to adulterated herbal products and the need to address this problem of global concern," he said.

More global connections

Blumenthal said this development is part of a pattern at ABC of increasing global connections.  The ingredients come from around the world, Blumenthal said, and having more global partners can help the organization in its efforts to quickly and accurately identify what adulterants are being used in various botanicals and how laboratories can test for them.

“We are going to have more people informing the process.  We will have more stakeholders involved,” Blumenthal said.

 To date, the adulterants program has published five extensively peer-reviewed and referenced articles on the history of adulteration, the adulteration of the herbs black cohosh and skullcap, and adulteration of extracts of bilberry fruit and grapefruit seed.

The Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research was founded in 1953 in Germany for the purpose of promoting and disseminating medicinal plant research. Over the years, GA has developed into an international scientific society with approximately 1,400 members from more than 90 countries. The scientific interests of GA cover all aspects of natural medicinal products, such as agricultural science, biology, chemistry, pharmacy, pharmacognosy, pharmacology, and medicine. Since 1953, Planta Medica has been the official journal of the society. Each year the GA organizes a large international congress on medicinal plant research in major European cities, and every five years holds joint meetings with related European and North American scientific societies.

Related topics: Adulteration, Research