Frank Lampe is the new director of communications at the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), a former editor of Natural Foods Merchandiser and editorial director at New Hope Natural Media, and has been part of the healthy-living media marketplace for 22 years. He was previously the executive vice president of InnoVision Health Media.
Fi: You did some work with the medical profession while you were at InnoVision. Based on that experience, do you see ways to create bridges between our businesses and theirs?
FL: Absolutely. The medical profession consists of a very complex group of individuals because the various disciplines are quite diverse. You’ve got MDs who are the most critical of the products because of their ultimate reliance on science. And then you’ve got many others including naturopaths, acupuncturists, nutritionists, dieticians and others who utilize different therapies including supplements.
But as influencers, they have become much more important to this industry in terms of their engagement with the products. Going forward, the medical profession will be even more tied to the success of this industry as they embrace the products, drive additional research and ultimately use them more and more in their own practices.
Fi: In your role for AHPA, do you see opportunities and challenges for the supplements category, specifically, reaching out to medical professionals? A lot of them are afraid of herbs.
FL: We’re familiar with traditional herbs and traditional uses for herbs; but medical professionals, specifically MDs, just don’t have any stomach for anecdotal evidence, even if a product has been proven effective for more than 2,000 years. They’ve all been brought up in the AMA model and, until recently, the medical schools were all reinforcing the “empirical-knowledge-only” model. Multi-constituent botanicals just don’t fit into this model very well. As you probably know, ginger has more than 475 identified constituents – and probably more that we don’t know about. This is true for almost all botanicals. How can you extract one constituent and expect definitive research to show benefit?
You do have a handful of progressive MDs who are supportive of the products, but it’s going to take continued research and the promotion of quality science to get those practitioners to really buy into herbs – and dietary supplements in general.
Fi: You and your wife, Monica, have a little piece of wilderness near Westcliffe, Colo. The last we heard, you had deer that were angry with you for thinking you had any right to be there.
FL: You know, the deer seem to like us, especially during hunting season when we see many more of them on the property. We get to share the land with mountain lions, bobcats, pronghorn antelope, rattlesnakes, giant jack rabbits, elk and also some bear – we found some tracks nearby recently. And coyotes, of course. It’s a wonderful retreat and a great reminder of our ties to the natural world. But it’s not a place you would leave a small dog out at night.