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KEL and Cranberry  cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)

The recent disaster in Haiti has generated various relief efforts, including the assistance of a few organizations interested in providing botanical medicines for suffering Haitians. An article in this issue highlights such efforts, as well as the strong tradition of herbal medicine in Haiti.

Another article profiles the new direction of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Though it will continue its work on cranberry and curcumin, NCCAM has resolved to no longer pursue large clinical trials of herbs and instead focus on effectiveness-based studies and pain management therapies.

Industry trade groups have recently distributed information and given statements concerning legislation recently introduced by Senator John McCain that would affect dietary supplements. Additionally, ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal has helped to disseminate information about errors in a recent article published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which claimed that herbal remedies may pose heightened risks to people taking medications for heart disease. Due to the errors, ABC has taken the position that the article should be retracted.

ABC recently published its latest Product-Specific Monograph, featuring studies of the popular French maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol. ABC has also recently welcomed a new member to its Board of Trustees, as well as 11 new Advisory Board members. Additionally, ABC’s Blumenthal has authored the foreword to a new book on African natural plant products.


The Staff of the American Botanical Council


HerbalGram 85 features an article on the moon’s possible influence on medicinal plants’ phytochemistry. The history and HG86 Covercurrent state of natural and traditional medicine in Cuba are also profiled in this issue, as is a new project working to promote sustainable management of traditional medicinal plants in China’s Upper Yangtze ecoregion. Another article explores the government contract that controls production and distribution of marijuana for clinical research and how some researchers are challenging this arrangement.  

Featured Book

Garlic and Other Alliums book cover


February's selected book excerpt comes from Garlic and Other Alliums, written by Eric Block and published in 2010. This excerpt contains the book's table of contents, foreword, preface, and Chapter 5, "Alliums in Folk and Complementary Medicine." All are available here.




©2010 Eric Block, published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.


We have tested the links of the following articles prior to publication; however, some news organizations remove stories and disable links at various times.

Vietnam Fails to Tap Herbal Medicinal MarketViet Nam News. 1-28-10. Despite a local abundance of medicinal plants and its history as a lucrative exporter of medicinal herbs, Vietnam now imports 80% of the plants it uses to make herbal products.

EU Patent Ruling on German Herbal Product Highlights Biopiracy Debate. Deutsche Welle. 1-27-10. The European Patent office has withdrawn a patent it previously granted to pharmaceutical company Schwabe for its extraction technique of the roots of Pelargonium sidoides, saying that the process did not amount to a “discovery.” 

Herbal Use Common Among Pregnant Women in the U.S. Reuters. 1-26-10. In a recent survey, 10.9% of mothers reported using herbal products during the 3 months before, or at some point during, their pregnancies. 

Use of Chemical Leaves Guggal on the Verge of DepletionThe International News. 1-23-10. Populations of a thorny shrub that is used in perfumes and herbal medicines in Pakistan are decreasing due to a chemical applied to increase the plant's resin.

St. John’s Wort May Cool Hot Flashes. Reuters. 1-15-10. New research by Iranian scientists shows that St. John’s wort reduced the frequency, duration, and severity of menopause-related hot flashes in study participants, suggesting a new possible use for this herb. 

Study Shows Thyme Oil Reduces Inflammation. The Med Guru. 1-15-10. Japanese researchers have found that thyme oil may be more effective than some other commercially available oils at suppressing an enzyme associated with inflammation and pain. 

Alternative Medicine Flourishes in Sealed-Off Gaza. Xinhua. 1-9-10. Many residents of the Gaza strip seek out alternative therapies due to an Israeli embargo that makes it difficult for them to travel outside of Gaza for adequate medical treatment.

A Sri Lankan Underdog Battles Global Tea Giants. New York Times. 1-8-10. Competing with the major tea industries in China and India, some Sri Lankan tea companies have become specialist producers of critically-acclaimed and more expensive teas. 

Additional Media Watch articles are available here.

Recent News

The Role of Natural and Traditional Medicine in Post-earthquake Haiti. Haiti has a rich system of herbal and traditional medicine based on the Vodou religion, and some US nonprofits are working to include these customs and consult such practitioners in their earthquake relief efforts.

NCCAM’s Future Directions. As NCCAM enters its second decade, the center plans to end its focus on large herbal clinical trials while increasing emphasis on effectiveness and pain management research.

Survey Indicates Medical Students See Value of CAM Education and Integration. In a recent national survey distributed to US medical students, 84% of respondents agreed that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) contains ideas and therapies from which conventional medicine could benefit.