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A, Clematis  Aristolochia clematis, one of the herbs most
commonly associated with AA 
©2012 Robert Vidéki, 
Doronicum Kft.,

Since the US Food and Drug Administration alerted several companies in April that their products are adulterated until they file New Dietary Ingredient notifications for DMAA — or 1, 3- dimethylamylamine — the dietary supplements community has been abuzz with opinions and reactions. An article in this issue of HerbalEGram discusses the controversial ingredient and recent actions taken against it. Additional articles report on the first Traditional Chinese Medicine product to obtain Traditional Herbal Registration in the European Union and the recent rise in cancer rates in Taiwan due to Aristolochic Acid (AA) toxicity. These stories are available in the Recent News section below.

The American Botanical Council recently alerted its members and the media to a new article that raises concerns about the apparent adulteration of some ingredients and products labeled as "grapefruit seed extract." This literature review — published in the most recent issue of ABC's quarterly, peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram — is part of a new non-profit consortium led by ABC, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, and the National Center for Natural Products Research. Meanwhile, ABC has added to its online catalog the audio and digital versions of a new text, A Guide to Pronouncing Plant Names by Judith Sims, which is available on ABC's website.


The American Botanical Council


HerbalGram 94HerbalGram 94, now available online, includes an ethno-botanical and scientific review of the sausage tree of southern Africa. The issue also features a quality control report on the adulteration of commercial grapefruit seed extract with synthetic compounds. Additional articles include coverage of Procter & Gamble's purchase of New Chapter, Inc., as well as information on 2 grant-funded projects to study the therapeutic compounds of medicinal plants.

Featured Book


June’s featured book excerpt comes from Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, 2nd Edition, by Michael Heinrich, Joanne Barnes, Simon Gibbons, and Elizabeth M. Williamson. The excerpt selected for readers of HerbalEGram includes the book’s title page, table of contents, foreword, preface, and Chapter 16, “The Respiratory System.” Published by Elsevier 8 years after the first edition, this textbook has been updated with some of the latest medicinal plant research and contains a detailed reference section and recommended reading suggestions.

©2012 Churchill Livingstone

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 Unlock Gene Secrets of Opium Poppy. Reuters. 5-31-12. British researchers found that a cluster of 10 different poppy genes helps synthesize noscapine, a medicinal compound that suppresses cough and exhibits anti-tumor activity.

Milk Thistle Found Ineffective in Hepatitus C Patients. Infectious Disease Special Edition. 5-12. A multi-center North Carolina study reports that silymarin, an extract from milk thistle, had no effect on disease symptoms or progression.

Jasmine Odor Improves Sleep and Mental Performance, Decreases Anxiety. Wheeling Jesuit University. Study participants exposed to jasmine reported more peaceful sleep and less anxiety and also performed better on mental tests as opposed to those who breathed in lavender odor or no odor at all.

Kenya Considers Policy to Regulate Traditional Medicines. Voice of America. 5-29-12. The Kenyan Ministry of Health is currently creating a council that will regulate herbal and traditional medicine practices, and is also considering laws to address herb conservation, processing, and trade.

Roman Coins Used in Ancient Medicinal Plant Trade. The Times of India. 5-27-12. Researchers think that silver coins and Roman pottery pieces recently excavated in India show that the village likely had been a medicinal plant preparation and trading center.

Dietary Supplements Become Utah's No. 1 Industry. NutraIngredients USA. 5-23-12. Reportedly worth $7 billion, the Utah dietary supplements industry now outranks all other industries in the state.

Castor Oil Action Mechanism Elucidated. 5-21-12. German researchers have found that ricinoleic acid, an active compound in castor oil, acts in the human body through pharmacological means and not topically through the intestinal lining as was previously thought.

Taiwan's Breakthrough Substitute for Valuable Herbal Medicine. Central News Agency. 5-14-12. Researchers found that an LED spectrum combination helped to inexpensively cultivate large quantities of Cordyceps militaris — an alternative to the expensive herb Cordyceps sinensis.


June 14-16: Natural Products Association MarketPlace 2012. Las Vegas, NV.

June 18-20: 5th International Symposium Breeding Research on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. Vienna, Austria.

July 24-27: Nutrition Business Journal Summit 2012. Dana Point, CA.

More event listings are available on ABC's website.

Recent News

FDA, Industry Organizations Take Action Against Controversial DMAA. Though some parties claim this stimulant-like ingredient is naturally sourced from the geranium plant and has been shown to be safe, many others consider it synthetic and therefore unacceptable in dietary supplements.

First Traditional Chinese Medicine Obtains Traditional Herbal Registration in EU. Amid criticism that the recent EU Traditional Herbal Medicines Product Directive is prejudiced against non-European herbal products, the first TCM product recently obtained approval in the Netherlands.

High Urinary Tract Cancer Rate in Taiwan Associated with Exposure to Aristolochic Acid. Though this chemical produced by Aristolochia species is well known to be a human carcinogen, researchers recently reported that it has contributed to Taiwan having the highest urinary tract cancer rates in the world.

Producer of Sustainable and Panda-Friendly Schisandra Awarded a 2012 Equator Prize. Given by the United Nation's Equator Initiative, this prize recognizes the schisandra-producing program for harvesting the medicinal herb in a sustainable manner that does not harm panda bear habitats.