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Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
©2012 Philip Jägenstedt

Researchers from multiple institutions have been working to establish the genetic fingerprints of numerous medicinal plants, including foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), the source of the widely used heart drug digoxin. As discussed in an article in this issue of HerbalEGram, they hope to determine the full biosynthesis pathways of medicinal compounds in order to create new and more effective plant-derived medicines. Another article in this issue presents a recent 6-year project by Chinese researchers to document and photograph numerous plants—including hundreds of medicinal species—growing in the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve on the rural Tibetan plateau.

This month, ABC welcomed 15 new medicinal plant and natural product experts to its Advisory Board. Also in February, ABC published in its most recent issue of HerbalGram an examination of the numerous laws and policies regulating the dietary supplements industry. With this article, the authors aim to put to rest the frequent accusations from critics and the media that the dietary supplements industry is unregulated.

Cordially,

The American Botanical Council

HerbalGram

HerbalGram 92, now available onlineHG92includes a detailed, compellingly narrative feature on the history of adulteration of herbs, spices and botanical drugs. The issue also features a remembrance of renowned plant researcher and ABC board of trustees member Norman Farnsworth, who recently died at the age of 81. Additional articles include coverage of Health Canada's relaxed p-synephrine guidelines, as well as an update on sequencing the cannabis genome.

Featured Book

Gateway to HealthFebruary’s featured book excerpt comes from Marijuana, Gateway to Health: How Cannabis Protects Us from Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease by Clint Werner. Published in 2011 by Dachstar Press, this book examines in great detail how marijuana affects the body and provides an overview of the plant’s tumultuous history. The book largely focuses on recent scientific evidence supporting the anti-cancer and additional beneficial properties of cannabis. The excerpt selected for readers of HerbalEGram includes the book’s title page, table of contents, Chapter 1, “The Endocannabinoid System,” and Chapter 7, “From Sacred Plant to Evil Weed in Just 6,000 Years.”


©2011 Clint Werner. Reproduced with permission from the author.

 

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.

Scientists Say Marine Plant May Help Treat Advanced Prostate Cancer. The Dominican. 1-24-12. A cell-based study on an extract from the marine sponge Niphates digitalis found that it exhibited strong androgen receptor activity, suggesting that it could be a useful prostate cancer treatment. 

Marijuana Mouth Spray Seeks FDA Approval as a Painkiller. CBS News. 1-23-12. Sativex, the oromucosal spray manufactured by UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals, is currently undergoing clinical trials in the United States.

Mushrooms May Help with Depression. The Guardian. 1-23-12. Scientists who recently conducted 2 studies on psilocybin, a major compound in psychoactive mushrooms, suggest that the ingredient could be helpful for psychotherapy patients.

A Look at Herbal Libido Aids. Los Angeles Times. 1-23-12. As sales of herbal libido supplements increase around Valentine's Day, a California journalist profiles several products aimed at helping men and women's libido-related concerns.

Bolivia Signs Coca Accord with US, Brazil. Fox News Latino. 1-21-12. After numerous delays in signing an agreement—most of which were due to the Bolivian president's support of the plant used in traditional medicine—the 3 countries have decided to track coca cultivation.

For Intrigue, Malaria Drug Gets the Prize. New York Times. 1-16-12. As the anti-malarial drug artemisinin is rumored to be a consideration for a Nobel Prize in Medicine, the New York Times explores the interesting, and somewhat controversial, history of the drug's development.

Hangover Remedy May be in the Herb. Postmedia News. 1-16-12. A compound of hovenia, an herb long-used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, was found to prevent intoxication and reduce hangover symptoms and alcohol dependency in rats.

50 Plants that Changed How We Live Today. Lake Michigan Shore. 1-11-12. The author of a new book has selected from the hundreds of possibilities just 50 plants that altered human living in a significant way, including the opium poppy and white willow.

 

Events
Recent News

Multi-Center Consortiums Seek to Create Better Plant Medicines. Two projects funded by multi-million dollar grants from the National Institutes of Health are determining the genetic fingerprints of numerous plants with the hopes of engineering species that produce more or better medicinal compounds.

Yushu
The Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, which
contains the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve.
©2012 Gruschke

Researchers Conduct Survey of Wild Chinese Herbs on Rural Tibetan Plateau. Seeking to conserve the drought-stricken and overly herded Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve, Chinese scientists spent 6 years conducting field research on the rural Tibetan plateau and documented more than 1,000 herbs, 575 of which have known medicinal value. 

American Botanical Council Welcomes 15 New Advisory Board Members. Among ABC's new Advisory Board members are a Turkish plant researcher, an Austrian expert on echinacea, an American psychopharmacologist, and a Canadian natural products chemist. 

Dietary Supplements Extensively Regulated, Say Authors of New Article. In the face of continuing allegations that the dietary supplements industry is unregulated, 3 HerbalGram authors analyze the numerous federal laws and policies controlling dietary supplement advertising, label claims, and manufacturing practices.