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ASP endorses Botanical Adulterants Program

America’s largest professional society of medicinal plant research experts endorses ABC-AHP-NCNPR program.

The American Society of Pharmacognosy (ASP) has announced its endorsement of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program. This is an educational program designed to increase the herb, dietary supplements, and natural products industries’ awareness of the need for enhanced scrutiny via laboratory analysis of herbal raw materials, extracts, and essential oils that may be accidentally or purposefully adulterated with lower-cost, non-disclosed ingredients. The Program is headed by three nonprofit groups focused on research and education on medical herbs and other beneficial plants: the American Botanical Council (ABC), the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), and the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) at the University of Mississippi.

ASP is North America's leading organization of scientists involved with research on medicinal plants, fungi, marine organisms, and other natural materials used in the production of new medicines, comprising the essence of the science of pharmacognosy. Founded in 1959, ASP consists of more than 1,100 pharmacognosists, natural products chemists, botanists, molecular biologists, and other medicinal plant research experts from around the world.

Bradley Moore, PhD, president of ASP and a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego, wrote in a letter to American Botanical Council Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal,

ASP is making this endorsement in recognition of the laudable goals and purpose of the Program that has helped increase the quantity and quality of scientific information on the relatively widespread problem of adulteration of botanical raw materials, botanical extracts, essential oils, and other plant-derived materials, which are used in dietary supplements and possibly in therapeutic products like non-prescription medicines.

As a Society, we recognize the paramount importance of the proper identification and authentication of medicinal materials and that they be adulterant free. Such materials are regularly used for research purposes and as ingredients in consumer-based products that promote health and remedy disease.

We further recognize that the history of pharmacy and pharmacognosy acknowledges many cases in which natural products used for medicinal purposes have been adulterated, either by accident due to inadequate quality control measures, or intentionally by fraudulent sellers. Such practices are contrary to the goals of responsible pharmacy, medicine, and public health education practices.

Guido Pauli, PhD, associate professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy and treasurer of ASP, wrote, "Botanical adulteration is one of the reasons why botanical research can sometimes be difficult to be reproduced. The [ABC-AHP-NCNPR] Program will raise awareness of the topic, and many global experts in this area are ASP colleagues, so it is only logical for our Society to endorse this welcome effort."

ASP joins over 100 nonprofit organizations, independent laboratories, industry members, trade associations, and others that are financially underwriting and/or endorsing the Botanical Adulterants Program. These groups are located in the United States and abroad, reflecting the global nature of the botanical material supply chain.

“Those of us working on the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program are especially honored by ASP’s recognition of the value and significance of our work in this vitally important area,” said Blumenthal. “We hope to continue to merit the trust and confidence that ASP has placed in the Program as we continue to publish extensively peer-reviewed articles and laboratory guidance documents to help members of the industry deal with this serious problem.”

According to AHP Executive Director Roy Upton, "It is wonderful to have the endorsement of ASP, as it was yesteryear's classical pharmacognosists who were primarily responsible for ensuring that adulteration did not occur. Botanical pharmacognosy skills are exactly what are needed to ensure botanical supplement quality control."

Bill Keller, PhD, longtime secretary of ASP, wrote,

I was quite pleased to vote for ASP’s endorsement of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program. As vice president and chief scientific resource officer at Nature’s Sunshine Products, I am continually faced with the possibility of having our product ingredients or our finished products being adulterated with illicit substances and/or prescription drugs. The Botanical Adulterants Program is definitely providing a unique and highly valuable service to the dietary supplement industry in addressing this serious problem. 

Stefan Gafner, PhD, chief science officer of ABC, noted that ASP “has become the most prominent organization of researchers interested in all aspects of natural products research in North America. I believe that it is the first time in the history of ASP that the organization supports a program through an endorsement, and it is a privilege that ASP chose to do so for the Botanical Adulteration Program.”


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