The annual award, named for ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal, is given to an individual who has played a significant role in creating a sense of community among herbalists, researchers, members of the herb and natural products communities, and related groups, who work in the area of medicinal plants.
Tierra began studying herbs in 1968 while living in an interdependent community called Black Bear Ranch in northern California. He learned about various medicinal plants from the Karuk and Yurok Native Americans, and eventually began harvesting the plants and giving them back to the Native community, which, at that time, had forgotten much of its traditional herbal knowledge.
In 1989, when herbs in North America were not being used in any organized way clinically or professionally, Tierra and other herbalists founded the American Herbalists Guild, which gives membership to professional herbalists based on peer-reviewed evaluations.
“Michael is considered the founding force of AHG, and for that very reason alone, he warranted consideration for our Community Builder award,” said ABC’s Blumenthal. “He is one of North America’s most venerated herbalists, and his many writings, teachings, and activities have resulted in creating a growing community of professional herbal practitioners throughout the United States and beyond.”
“It means a lot”
Tierra said he is “very honored” to receive the award. “Coming from HerbalGram and Mark Blumenthal, as a representative of the American Botanical Council, an organization that I’ve followed for many years with a lot of respect, it means a lot to me,” he said.
He published The Way of Herbs (Lotus Press) in 1983, based on his clinical experiences. In the book, which is still in print and has become a best-seller, he began advertising his correspondence course. This course eventually grew into the East West School of Planetary Herbology, which combines Ayurvedic, Western, and Chinese herbal medicine systems in a unique way. According to Tierra, at least 9,000 students have taken his course worldwide.
“My nature has always been such that any information I learn, I’m always eager to share [it] with the world with a great deal of zeal and enthusiasm. And I’m always eager to empower other people who want to be herbalists,” Tierra said.
The 11th Annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony will take place on March 10, 2016, in Anaheim, California. The event, for ABC Sponsor Members, occurs during Natural Products Expo West.