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Doomsday Seed Vault

Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Photo ©2010 Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust.

Over the past few weeks, there have been some positive developments regarding botanical conservation, as well as legislation impacting complementary and alternative medicine. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault—often called the “Doomsday Vault”—has hit a milestone through its collection of half a million seeds. The recently-passed US healthcare reform bill, meanwhile, includes provisions favorable for some dietary supplements and licensed alternative healthcare providers. And Senate supporters of a bill proposed to alter the regulation of dietary supplements have recently agreed upon supporting less extensive changes. These and other topics are covered in this issue of HerbalEGram. 

Another article in this issue focuses on the upcoming World Cup in South Africa and some concerns that have been raised over the possible use of African herbs as performance enhancers. 

ABC recently honored its 2010 Botanical Excellence Awards winners at the ABC Celebration event in Anaheim, California. ABC’s Mark Blumenthal will be presenting on tea and health at SupplySide East in Secaucus, New Jersey on April 26 and will also be joined by noted herbalist Christopher Hobbs in leading ABC’s HerbDay event in Austin, Texas on May 1. We invite anyone in the area to celebrate HerbDay by visiting the ABC headquarters and touring our medicinal gardens.


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

Oak Spring Herbaria


April's selected book excerpt comes from the winner of ABC's 2010 James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award. An Oak Spring Herbaria: Herbs and Herbals from the Fourteenth to the Nineteenth Centuries: A Selection of Rare Books, Manuscripts and Works of Art in the Collection of Rachel Lambert Mellon is written by Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi and Tony Willis and was published in 2009. This excerpt contains the book's forward, introduction, and first chapter. All are available here.


 ©2010 Oak Spring Garden Library.

Media Watch

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

Potent Jungle Vine Brew Has Potential to Treat Addiction. 3-23-10. Voice of America. The medicinal plant ayahuasca has recently been studied for its ability to treat drug and alcohol addiction, as well as its medicinal efficacy when brewed with other plants. 

Humidity Can Lower Effect of Vitamin CJournal & Courier. 3-23-10. Purdue University researchers recently found that humidity and high temperatures, common in home bathrooms and kitchens, could potentially degrade non-fat soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin C. 

Natural Cures. The Dr. Oz Show. 3-23-10. Chris Kilham, “the Medicine Hunter,” speaks with Dr. Mehmet Oz and his TV show guests about the health benefits of various herbal remedies from around the world. 

Artificially Reproduced Red Yew Trees Readily Grown. 3-22-10. Viêt Nam News. A research center in Vietnam recently reproduced thousands of endangered red yew trees and found that their Taxol content was higher than that of wild-grown red yew trees. 

Ayurvedic Drug Makers Struggle to Promote Herb Cultivation. Livemint. 3-15-10. As the number of India's medicinal plant gatherers declines, some Ayurvedic medicine companies are considering increasing their use of cultivated herbs, despite potential obstacles.  

City Garden Staff to Nurture Hope in War Zone. Scotsman. 3-12-10. Staff from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in Scotland have recently started a project in Afghanistan to create a botanical garden for Kabul University research and educational activities. 

Lemongrass Fights Headaches. Science Alert. 3-5-10. Recent findings from a 5-year study suggest that lemongrass could be used to treat headaches and migraines as it has strong biological activity on human blood platelets. 

Echinacea Herbal Remedies Receive a Plant-breeding Boost. 3-5-10. NutraIngredients. Recent research has found that Echinacea populations can be grouped into 9 distinct species, an increase from the existing 4, and researchers speculate that some of these new species might have medicinal properties. 


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Concerns Over Use of African Herbs During the 2010 World Cup. Doctors of some South African soccer teams have recently informed officials that some African plants could potentially enhance players' Herbman Gardenperformance in this summer's world championship tournament.

“Doomsday Vault” Hits half a Million Seeds. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is stored in a permafrost-covered mountain on an island in the Arctic Ocean, recently reached a milestone by collecting 500,000 kinds of seeds. 

Traveling Medicinal Herbman Garden Project. A Japanese landscape design team has recently initiated a project featuring a giant human-shaped herb garden and an herbal café with the goal of teaching people about the medicinal properties and cultural uses of herbs. 


Medicinal Herbman Café Project in Japan. Photo ©2010 Shin Suzuki.