Dispatches from Vitafoods Europe

ABC taps into European herbal insights via new advisory board member

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags American botanical council Herbalism Board of directors Ethnobotany Abc

Europe, and especially Germany, has historically been a hotbed of herbal lore, science and product development. The American Botanical Council recently tapped into this knowledge in a more fundamental way by adding Joerg Gruenwald, PhD, to its advisory board, signalling the advent of a more global future for the organization.

“It’s the American Botanical Council, it’s not the World Botanical Council, so it has historically been focused on American scientists and American people in the herbal industry,” ​said  Gruenwald, while speaking with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Vitafoods Europe trade show in Geneva, Switzerland. But even so ABC has almost by default become the world’s leading voice on the science behind herbal products, Gruenwald said. He lauded the organization’s HerbalGram ​publication as being the world’s best periodical devoted to the subject.

“They are opening up more in an international way because there is no other international organization backing the science behind herbals,”​ Gruenwald said.

Gruenwald said ABC’s international push bore fruit recently with the reinstatement in the German market of the botanical kava, which had been banned for a number of years.  ABC’s support during that process was instrumental in its success, Gruenwald said.

International push

Gruenwald was among 10 new advisory board members from around the globe​. This development “highlights the increasingly international and diverse nature of the ABC Advisory Board,”​ the group said in a statement. The new members bring expertise in study of medicinal plants, including ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, phytotherapy, pharmacy, organic chemistry and biochemistry, pharmacovigilance, and more.

The new international members join others already on ABC’s board, said founder and executive director Mark Blumenthal.

“It’s part of a growth pattern that we have already been experiencing over the years and it is part of an increase in scope toward a global perspective.  Our activities have always had a global perspective to them,”​ he said.

“If you look at some of the big issues, they are global nature.  One is research into medicinal plants is an international phenomenon.  We have been reporting on that since ABC began.  ​HerbalGram (ABC’s quarterly publication) was one of the first publications to report on the early research coming out of Germany.

Another area is the supply chain.  Most of the supply (for products in North America) is coming from global sources. Since we become increasingly involved with issues of quality through our adulterants program, it makes sense that we take this perspective,”​ he said.

“And the third area is market trends and regulation. Regulation is a local issue but it has international implications,”​ Blumenthal said.

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