The Botanical Adulterants Program is a coalition of three non-profit groups: ABC, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), and the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR). More than 170 American and international parties have supported and cooperated with the Program, which educates and provides advice about the various challenges related to adulterated herbs, botanical extracts, and other botanical ingredients in commerce. These parties include non-profit organizations, analytical laboratories, professional scientists, integrative healthcare practitioners, natural product industry members, and others. “Adulteration” refers to the accidental or intentional substitution or dilution of a material with an undisclosed, usually lower-cost, ingredient, thereby giving the consumer a false sense of the value or quality of an ingredient or product containing such an adulterated ingredient.
The CHFA is the voice of the natural health industry in Canada, formed in 1964 from a grassroots community of health food pioneers. CHFA represents over 1,000 member businesses across Canada, including manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and importers of natural and organic products such as foods, vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal products, homeopathic remedies, sports nutrition products, and health and beauty aids. Their mission is to lead, empower, and support their members to promote the growth and advancement of the organic and natural health products industry. In Canada, most herbal products are sold as natural health products (NHPs), which are regulated as a class of medicines.
In a letter dated Oct. 26, CHFA President Helen Long announced CHFA’s support of the Program, writing that she “looks forward to ongoing collaboration with … the Program as a means of improving NHP quality in Canada and beyond.”
“We are deeply grateful for the strong support and encouragement we have received from CHFA,” said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC and the director of the Botanical Adulterants Program. “CHFA’s decision to support our international quality control education initiative adds another key industry group that is now assisting us in educating industry members and other stakeholders in the all-important need to further educate on herbal identity and authenticity.”
The Botanical Adulterants Program has been referred to as the premier industry-supported quality program related to herbs, botanical raw materials, and extracts. It also has received underwriting and endorsements by domestic and international industry trade associations. These include the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the Natural Products Association, and the United Natural Products Alliance—all in the U.S.—as well as the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations, the Australian Self Medication Industry, Complementary Medicines Australia, the Australian Tea Tree Oil Association, and Natural Products New Zealand.
The ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program has published extensively peer-reviewed and referenced articles on the history of adulteration, adulteration of the herbs black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) and skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), and adulteration of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) fruit extract and so-called “grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi) seed extract.” These open-access articles are available on the Program’s webpage.
The Program also publishes a quarterly newsletter, the "Botanical Adulterants Monitor,” which highlights new scientific publications related to botanical authenticity and analysis to detect possible adulteration, recent regulatory actions, and Program news. Issue #5 of the Monitor, released this week, contains summaries of new research presented at the American Society of Pharmacognosy meeting regarding licorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.) and maca (Lepidium meyenii), authentication of common horsetail (Equisetum arvense), and the detection of adulteration in commercial buchu (Agathosma betulina) supplements, among others.
In August, the Botanical Adulterants Program released the second in its series of Laboratory Guidance Documents to help industry and third-party analytical laboratories determine the most effective analytical methods for detecting adulteration and authenticating botanical raw materials and extracts. The first of these was published on skullcap, an herb subject to documented adulteration, which is joined by the latest publication on bilberry extract. Additional publications from the Program, including a Laboratory Guidance Document on black cohosh, are scheduled for release in the coming weeks and months.