ABC awards botanical excellence at 16th annual celebration ceremony

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

ABC's virtual celebration was hosted by Mark Blumenthal, ABC’s founder and executive director, along with other members of the ABC community. Image: HerbalGram - American Botanical Council on YouTube
ABC's virtual celebration was hosted by Mark Blumenthal, ABC’s founder and executive director, along with other members of the ABC community. Image: HerbalGram - American Botanical Council on YouTube

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Michael McGuffin, Dr Paula Brown, and Jerry Cott were among the recipients at this year’s ABC Botanical Excellence Awards.

Held virtually on May 25 and livestreamed on ABC’s YouTube channel​, the American Botanical Council’s 16th annual Celebration and Botanical Excellence Awards honored individuals and companies who have made outstanding contributions to the herbal and botanical communities.

“ABC’s Botanical Excellence Awards are granted to individuals and commercial businesses that are committed to excellence in exploring and expanding the scientific research on herbs, medicinal plants, phytomedicines, medicinal fungi, and other natural products with therapeutic value,” ​said Mark Blumenthal, ABC’s founder and executive director.

The ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award

Recognizing authors whose books contribute significantly to the medicinal plant-related literature, and the fields of botany, taxonomy, ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, phytomedicine, mycology, and other related disciplines, this year’s Duke Award was presented to Christopher Hobbs, PhD, director of the Institute for Natural Products Research, for his book, Christopher Hobbs's Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide: Boost Immunity, Improve Memory, Fight Cancer, Stop Infection, and Expand Your Consciousness​ (Storey Publishing, 2020).

Christopher Hobbs, PhD.  Image courtesy of ABC

Hobbs holds a PhD in phylogenetics, evolutionary biology, and phytochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild.

“Hobbs’ work was chosen for its consumer-friendly approach to the field of mycology, with scientific and clinical research presented in a creative and informative way and featuring beautiful photography throughout,”​ said Hannah Bauman, assistant editor for ABC’s peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram, who presented the award to Hobbs.

“In Medicinal Mushrooms, he strives to answer the question of how fungi affect and promote human health and studies the ancient interaction between fungi and humans. Like Jim Duke, Christopher Hobbs blends a love of plants with an inquisitive nature and supports tradition with science in a clear, concise, compassionate way. He has succeeded in creating an accessible book for readers at every level of interest.”

Hobbs said, “I wanted to make this book a practical guide featuring medicine making, growing, choosing commercial products and the importance of quality, combining the folklore and traditional uses with a thorough review of the scientific literature and especially all clinical trials available for each species. I hope it can inspire a love of mushrooms and a preservation of their habitats, especially the old growth forests and trees of which they are an integral part.”

The ABC Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award

Paula Brown, PhD.  Image courtesy of ABC

Recognizing those who make significant research contributions in the fields of pharmacognosy, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, or other scientific disciplines related to medicinal plants, this year’s recipient was Paula Brown, PhD, director of the British Columbia Institute of Technology's (BCIT) Natural Health and Food Products Research Group.

“Paula has published validated analytical methods for a number of dietary supplement ingredients, including ginseng, echinacea, and many others…and has more publications of supplement ingredient methods in AOAC International’s Official Methods of Analysis than any other author that I know,” ​commented Joseph Betz, PhD, acting director of the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health.

In her acceptance speech, Brown said, “I want to acknowledge a few colleagues, including Susan Murch, who told me if I want to study plants, I better get out my rainboots and get out there. Mary Hardy, last year’s ABC Fredi Kronenberg Award winner, reminds me, as I go down my rabbit hole of chemistry, that this is about health. It’s about educating and facilitating the responsible use of botanical medicines for improved health and wellness.

“Everything that I have achieved here at BCIT has been with the support and hard work and dedication of my group, many of whom have been with me for close two decades. I thank all of them because they are part of this award, as well. “

The ABC Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award

Georg Wikman.   Image courtesy of ABC

This award recognizes a botanical ingredient, dietary supplement, and/or phytomedicinal products company that makes a strong investment in human clinical research to support the authenticity, safety, and efficacy of its ingredients or products.

This year’s award was presented to the Swedish Herbal Institute (SHI) and Founder and Chairman Georg Wikman.

Wikman founded SHI in 1975 to gather knowledge about medicinal plants from many parts of the world, promote scientific research of these, and develop pharmaceutical-quality botanical medicines, aka phytomedicines. His work has led to collaborations with a number of prestigious universities, as well as the Russian space program and SHI’s phytomedicines that were used on the MIR space station.

In presenting the award, ABC's Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, said: “ABC chose SHI for the company’s exceptional commitment to the scientific and clinical research on the therapeutic effects of several botanical ingredients — most notably andographis and rhodiola. The company has initiated and supported over 30 clinical studies since 1995.

“SHI’s clinical work has significantly added to the foundation for the evidence-based medicinal use of both andographis and rhodiola, leading to effective phytotherapeutic agents in the areas of upper respiratory infections, stress-related fatigue, and mild forms of depression.”

In his acceptance speech, Wikman said: “ABC’s coverage of our research has increased international professional awareness of our work. I personally believe that this award is yet another milestone on the road to full acceptance of adaptogens as important health promoters on the same footing as vitamins, trace elements, and antioxidants.”

The ABC Fredi Kronenberg Excellence in Research and Education in Botanicals for Women’s Health Award

Tori Hudson, ND.   Image courtesy of ABC

This award recognizes a researcher, educator, and/or clinician who furthers the scientific study, education, and clinical use of medicinal plants and phytomedicines for women’s health conditions.

The 2021 award was presented to Tori Hudson, ND, medical director of A Woman’s Time natural health care clinic, program director of the Institute of Women’s Health & Integrative Medicine, and an adjunct clinical professor at Bastyr University, National College of Naturopathic Medicine, and Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences.

Mary Hardy, MD, who presented the award to Hudson, said: “Dr. Tori Hudson is a uniquely appropriate honoree. “Dr. Hudson has devoted her 35-plus years as a naturopath to women’s health as a researcher, clinician, and educator. She has had a leading role in educating naturopaths about primary and specialty natural care of women.… She has won a number of prestigious awards during her career…and has published broadly both in the lay and professional press on all aspects of women’s care.”

Hudson said, “I first met Fredi Kronenberg in the earliest days of the development of the Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, which then became and is currently called the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health. At these meetings, Fredi was incredibly kind, inclusive, and collaborative towards me and others, and she was innovative, intellectually impressive, and consistently productive in her research and academic activities, especially with regard to botanicals, integrative medicine, and women’s health — three pillars of my clinical and professional career, as well.

“Thank you, Fredi, for befriending me and letting me learn from you and alongside you, even though it was for far too short of a time. May the plants be with you, and may the plants be with all of us for a very, very long time.”

ABC Champion Award

Jerry Cott, PhD.   Image courtesy of ABC

Recognizing individuals who have been outstanding supporters of ABC and who have helped the organization promote and achieve its nonprofit research and educational mission, whether through monetary support or contributions of their own time, this year’s award was presented to Jerry Cott, PhD, a now-retired senior pharmacologist for the US Food and Drug Administration.

ABC is recognizing Jerry for providing long-term academic and professional expertise as a peer reviewer of a wide range of publications that deal with psychopharmacology,” said Lori Glenn, managing editor of ABC’s HerbClip. “Jerry has been the primary peer reviewer of many articles for ABC’s flagship publication, HerbalGram, as well as a myriad of summaries of clinical trials and review articles. Jerry has also reviewed other publications for ABC, including chapters for The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs.”

Cott said: “Before I met Mark [Blumenthal], I was a simple neuropsychopharmacologist at the NIMH [National Institute of Mental Health] in the early ‘90s. I’d started a natural products research program to try and interest the drug people into searching for kinder, gentler treatments for mental health disorders. I’d never actually met any herbalists. That changed at an American Herbalists Guild meeting in West Virginia in 1994.…

“That same year, I met the famous ethnobotanist James Duke at an NIMH meeting that I had invited him to, and Jim, along with Mark, had quite an impact on my life.…I want to thank the warm community at ABC for accepting a non-herbalist into their confidence. It is a great honor to be with you and to accept this award today.”

ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award

Michael McGuffin.   Image courtesy of ABC

Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), received the ABC Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder Award, which honors individuals who have played a significant role in creating a sense of community among herbalists, botanical researchers, members of the herb and natural products communities and industries, and others who work in the various areas of medicinal and aromatic plants.

As president of AHPA since 1999, McGuffin has been active in the herbal industry since 1974, having owned both retail and manufacturing businesses in this field. He is leading expert on dietary supplement regulation and has been published extensively in scholarly and scientific journals. McGuffin has represented the herbal industry at state and federal hearings on herbal regulatory issues and has served as a member or on the advisory board of a number of working groups, committees, and related organizations.

“Michael is a master of important details on a wide spectrum of significant issues necessary for the success of small, medium-sized, and large herb businesses,”​ said Blumenthal, in presenting the eponymous award to McGuffin. “Without his strong and seemingly tireless energy and leadership, it is questionable that the herb industry in the United States would be as successful, and as large, as it is today.”

McGuffin said, “I must share credit with the remarkable and talented AHPA staff. Each of them is actively engaged in building community, not only within the AHPA membership but more broadly among practicing herbalists, botanical researchers, and all those involved in the herb and natural products industry.

“The AHPA board of trustees also deserves to share this award. The board has strongly advocated for collaboration and cooperation with the other organizations that represent the herbal products industry. This not only helps us get our work done, but It’s clearly an opportunity to build community.”


To watch the full awards celebration, please click HERE​.

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