ABC’s Journal HerbalGram Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Sep 21, 2023

From: American Botanical Council <> Date: Thu, Sep 21, 2023 at 2:00 AM
Subject: PRESS RELEASE: ABC’s Journal HerbalGram Celebrates 40th Anniversary
To: Loren Israelsen <>


New HerbalGram 40 Project and Fund established to grow leading nonprofit’s unique scientific research and education mission
AUSTIN, Texas (September 21, 2023) — The nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC) is pleased to announce the 40th anniversary of its acclaimed journal/magazine HerbalGram. As part of its observance of the milestone, ABC is instituting a year-long project to enhance the organization’s unique, international, nonprofit research and educational mission, publications, and programs: the HerbalGram 40 Project and Fund.

The HerbalGram 40 Project and Fund webpage invites comments and insights from ABC supporters not only to help celebrate the 40-year milestone, but also to identify enhancements to existing ABC programs and suggest possible new programs and projects relevant to the herbal community. Donations to fund the robust, continued growth of ABC and HerbalGram can also be made on this webpage. These donations are an important component of the nonprofit’s ability to meet the growing demand for responsible, reliable, science-based herb and medicinal plant information.

The HerbalGram journal was created in the early 1980s by herb community veteran Mark Blumenthal, then the owner of an herb wholesale company in Austin, Texas, and Rob McCaleb, then the research director at Celestial Seasonings herbal tea company in Boulder, Colorado.

The first issue of HerbalGram was an eight-page newsletter printed in the summer of 1983. The lead articles in that first edition announced the formation of two new herb organizations, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), now the leading trade association dealing with herbs and medicinal plants, and the Herb Research Foundation, a nonprofit research and education organization. For its first five years, HerbalGram was the official publication of both organizations.

In November 1988, Blumenthal — along with renowned ethnobotanist James A. Duke, PhD (1929–2017), and acclaimed pharmacognosist Norman R. Farnsworth, PhD (1930–2011) — founded the nonprofit ABC to support the development of HerbalGram into a four-color, peer-reviewed publication. At that time, other than a few scientific journals, there was very little reliable information available on herbs, medicinal plants, and their products in the market. In the past 35 years, ABC has grown into an internationally respected organization which has reached members in more than 80 countries, with numerous publications and programs.

In the current issue of HerbalGram (#138), Blumenthal has written an extensive, seven-page history of the publication in his “Dear Reader” column, which is usually one page. Blumenthal’s personal and historical narrative documents the evolution of both HerbalGram and ABC, providing examples of key ABC projects whose geneses are based on seminal HerbalGram articles. These include ABC’s translation and publication of The Complete German Commission E Monographs—Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines in 1998, ABC’s 2-3-page HerbClip summaries of clinical and other scientific research papers, the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP), and many other educational projects and programs.

In his Dear Reader column, Blumenthal emphasizes that throughout HerbalGram’s 40 years, the primary goal has been to produce accurate and reliable content. Accordingly, HerbalGram is peer reviewed by a variety of experts in scientific fields related to herbs and medicinal plants, including ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, herbal medicine, and many other disciplines.

As part of the yearlong HerbalGram 40 Project, ABC is reviewing the history of HerbalGram via its key articles in a series of four timelines. “There is so much substantial and relevant content in 40 years that we have divided the extensive annotated timeline into four decades, with each decade to be published in the next four issues of our quarterly publication, beginning with issue 138,” Blumenthal explained. The 10-page, annotated timeline of HerbalGram’s first decade (1983–1993) is featured in issue 138, which was published in September 2023.

“The history of HerbalGram’s first 40 years of publication reflects much of the history and evolution of the modern herb and medicinal plant movement in the United States and beyond,” said Blumenthal. “Many of the articles in HerbalGram provided thought leadership to the emerging herb community, in areas of research, clinical practice, industry, and product development.”

Blumenthal added: “Over the past few years, numerous ABC members and various herb community colleagues have stated repeatedly how important it is for those of us who have many years of experience in the herb movement to write its history for the benefit of the younger leaders who are embracing the herbal agenda, and for future generations.”

Throughout its 40-year history, especially in the earlier years, HerbalGram was the leading publication dealing with the conservation of wild medicinal plants, the growing concerns of an industry that did not have a rational regulatory system, and other issues that would help determine the direction of the natural products movement, such as the publication of market sales data at a time when such information was difficult to obtain.

There are literally hundreds of authors — too many to list here — of various articles and book reviews in HerbalGram’s 40-year history including some of the leading experts and thought leaders in the herb community. Their contributions have been substantial and enormously appreciated. Many of these generous, talented people will be acknowledged during the HerbalGram 40 yearlong process.

The HerbalGram 40 Project and Fund: ABC Invites Feedback

ABC invites its members and friends to visit the HerbalGram 40 Project and Fund page to leave comments, donate, and learn more about this exciting year-long project.

The journal, HerbalGram, is one of the many educational benefits of membership in ABC. Visit ABC’s website to learn how to join ABC and receive HerbalGram.

Comments from Herb Experts, ABC Members, and the Extended Herb Community

In recognition of HerbalGram’s 40th anniversary, ABC has started receiving comments about HerbalGram and ABC from various herb community veterans and leaders. Some of the initial comments can be found below.

“It’s not often we can say, ‘We made a difference in the world.’ That is the truth about ABC and its publication HerbalGram — a true treasure of knowledge of the plant kingdom as well as a living history of the herbal renaissance in the United States and throughout the world! Here’s to another 40!”

—Peggy Brevoort, a veteran of the US herb industry who spent 20 years on the ABC Board of Trustees

“The American Botanical Council has been a beacon of educational excellence among health care professionals, researchers, industry, and the general public. ABC has played a pivotal role in advancing herbal medicine, herbal education, and botanical research in the United States and beyond. ABC’s many contributions over decades of service have been profound, helping to bridge the gap between traditional herbal wisdom and modern science, helping to ensure that herbs are used safely, effectively, and responsibly. Further, ABC has been a strong advocate and source of education for enhanced quality control through its publication HerbalGram and the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program, which regularly highlights issues related to ingredient adulteration, helping industry and consumers maintain access to authentic herbal products.”

—Christopher Hobbs, PhD, a fourth-generation botanist, herbalist, author, and acupuncturist

“A great big THANK YOU for 40 years of being the very best in class when it comes to herbal research, science, regulatory issues, and conservation. I have an entire shelf filled with years of HerbalGram issues. They are a treasure trove of unbiased information that I can use as a physician and herbalist. But even more than that, they are a beautiful tribute to the powerful and enduring relationship we have with the plant world.”

—Tieraona Low Dog, MD, ABOIM, integrative physician, author, and educator

“As a professional herbalist for 40-plus years, I consider ABC and its excellent publication, HerbalGram, to be highly useful sources of factual and reliable information on medicinal and health-promoting plants.”

—Ed Smith, herbalist, co-founder, and former co-owner of Herb Pharm

“HerbalGram has had quite an impact on my life and career. Many years ago, my sister, [who] was a Master Gardener, … subscribed to HerbalGram. She gave me a ‘bootleg’ copy and, even though I was a food chemist at the time, it introduced me to the world and science of botanicals. And now here I am, decades later, the CEO of NOW, a dietary supplement company, interested and involved in all aspects of the botanical industry and still relying on HerbalGram to provide inspiration, trusted information, and resources.”

—Jim Emme, CEO of NOW Foods

Please send comments, suggestions, and other feedback to

About the American Botanical Council

The American Botanical Council is a nonprofit, science-based research and education organization founded in 1988 in Austin, Texas. ABC headquarters is in a 160+-year-old home on a historic 2.5-acre site that is part of a Republic of Texas land-grant in the 1840s that contains many medicinal plant gardens. ABC publishes the peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram, is the lead partner in the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program, operates the Sustainable Herbs Program, and other research and education-oriented publications and programs, including HerbClip research summaries, the robust HerbMedPro database, and the Adopt-an-Herb program. ABC members include academic researchers, health professionals, nonprofit organizations and research centers, industry members, and others in up to 80 countries. More at