The nonprofit American Botanical Council has announced that Bioforce AG is the recipient of its annual Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award. Bioforce AG is a Swiss herbal products manufacturer that spends approximately $1 million on pharmacological and clinical research each year, according to company sources.
“We were surprised and honored to receive this prestigious award and, at the same time, also proud to see that our efforts to invest in research are acknowledged,” said Andreas Suter, head of medicine and product development at Bioforce AG. “We share [Prof. Tyler’s] views on phytotherapy, that the use [of] herbal medicine must not only be based on fascination but also on sound scientific data.”
“Bioforce is a rare company in the global herbal community,” said ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. “The company employs the highest quality levels of sustainable farming practices while embracing the rich traditions of European herbal medicine, combining it with modern scientific research. These concepts—sustainability, tradition, and research—are at the core of the company’s ethics and practices. Bioforce’s continued investment in research is consistent with Prof. Varro Tyler’s wish that all herb companies dedicate a portion of their revenues to researching the mechanisms and/or the efficacy of their botanical products.”
The late Prof. Tyler—who has been described as one of the most respected men in late 20th century herbal medicine and pharmacognosy (the study of medicines of natural origin, usually from plants)—was an early trustee of ABC and the dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Purdue University and vice-president of academic affairs at Purdue. He was the senior author of 6 editions of the leading textbook in the field, formerly used in every college of pharmacy in the United States.
Prof. Tyler urged his students and colleagues “not only to seek the truth but, after finding it, to discard any preconceived ideas which it may reveal as untrue;” encouraged scientific and product integrity; and envisioned a rational herbal healthcare sector that valued the proper evaluation of products’ quality, safety, and efficacy.
According to Suter, Bioforce spends 4 to 5% of annual sales income on clinical research each year. The company’s main focus is researching the effect that echinacea (Echinacea spp.) and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) have on common colds, infectious diseases of the upper respiratory tract, and benign prostatic hyperplasia, as well as herbal treatments for rheumatologic conditions and digestive disorders.
Bioforce has conducted at least 36 scientific studies on its products, the majority of which were published in scientific, peer-reviewed journals. Fourteen of these studies were carried out on its flagship product, Echinaforce®, an organic tincture of E. purpurea herb and root that is used to treat colds and flu. In 2006, an echinacea meta-analysis by Suter and fellow Bioforce AG scientist Roland Schoop was chosen as one of the top 25 research papers by the Annual Bibliography of Significant Advances in Dietary Supplement Research, published by the US National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.
Additionally, according to Bioforce USA’s Managing Director Eileen Sheets, Bioforce’s arnica gel was the first product to obtain a traditional herbal registration from the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and of the approximate 120 registrations that MHRA has granted, about a quarter of them have been given to Bioforce products.
“We are fascinated by medical plants and have an innate curiosity to find out how they act physiologically in a human being,” said Suter. “Without [scientific] data, we could rely only on tradition, hearsay, or personal experiences; with these data we are credible and gain the trust of practitioners, pharmacists, and patients. Further, carrying out research allows us to find new indications for known plants and is one of the key drivers to stay innovative and successful. And last but not least, research carried out in phytotherapy helps the whole ‘phytomedical’ community, as we are living in times of evidence based medicine.”
According to Bioforce USA President and CEO Pierce S. Sioussat, the acceptance of herbal medicine in the United States “can only be accomplished through continued investment in clinical research using commercially available products that are manufactured in a manner that ensures batch-after-batch and year-after-year consistency. It is also important that such research have a credible forum for public disclosure, and, in this regard, the American Botanical Council plays a critical role.” Bioforce USA is a partner company that will accept the ABC award on Bioforce AG’s behalf.
Bioforce AG’s product integrity begins by honoring one of the most important philosophies of Swiss clinical herbalist Alfred Vogel, who founded the company in 1963: insisting that the plants used in its products are grown organically on its own farms or contract farms assessed for sustainability and approved by the company itself. According to Bioforce, the company also harvests at “ideal” times, uses high-quality seed varieties, allows the plants to sufficiently mature “until they reach optimum potential,” and mixes harvest batches in order to ensure consistent efficacy. Suter said that the company always uses the whole plant in its products—another of Vogel’s most important founding philosophies—and processes the plants within 24 hours after harvest to guarantee a “full spectrum of all active ingredients.” In addition, the World Health Organization recognizes Bioforce for producing its products according to pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs).
“Alfred Vogel viewed nature as his guide and practiced a holistic approach to the use of plants,” said Sioussat of Bioforce USA. “[Vogel said,] ‘Every substance contained in a plant has purpose and significance. They complement each other and act as a whole.’ What makes Bioforce unique is that these are not hollow words, but rather a philosophy that we are not afraid to put to rigorous examination in the most demanding environments.”
The Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award will be presented at the 7th Annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony on March 8 in Anaheim, CA, as part of Nutracon 2012 conference and Natural Products Expo West trade show. The ABC Botanical Celebration is open to ABC Sponsor and Corporate members and is sponsored by the following ABC members:
Amin Talati, LLC
Natural Factors Nutritional Products
About the American Botanical Council
Founded in 1988, the American Botanical Council is a leading international nonprofit organization addressing research and educational issues regarding herbs and medicinal plants. ABC's members include academic researchers and educators; libraries; health professionals and medical institutions; government agencies; members of the herb, dietary supplement, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries; journalists; consumers; and others in more than 80 countries. The organization occupies a historic 2.5-acre site in Austin, Texas, where it publishes the quarterly journal HerbalGram, the monthly e-publication HerbalEGram, HerbClips (summaries of scientific and clinical publications), reference books, and other educational materials. ABC also hosts HerbMedPro, a powerful herbal database, covering scientific and clinical publications on more than 240 herbs. ABC also co-produces the "Herbal Insights" segment for Healing Quest, a television series on PBS.
ABC is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. Information: Contact ABC at P.O. Box 144345, Austin, TX 78714-4345, Phone: 512-926-4900. Website: www.herbalgram.org.