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Integrator Reader Forum: What Are Your Views on NCCIH's Past and Future for Botanical Research? PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Integrator Forum: What Are Your Views on NCCIH's Past and Future for Botanical Research?

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Publishes gutsy report
To participate, please send your perspective/response of 50 to 400 words to
The article shared below can be accessed here after signing in. I look forward to sharing your views!


A sample prior Integrator Forum is here:.

In the most recent issue (#107) of its well-respected international publication, HerbalGram, the 501c3 American Botanical Council published a short paper that I previously characterized as "gutsy."

Drug companies are regularly blasted for not publishing negative outcomes. Yet here is an organization closely tied to the herb industry publishing a chart in which 15 of 16 NIH-funded research trials fail to show value from the herb studied.

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Hopp: author and NCCIH botanicals head
The
HerbalGram article is entitled "Past and Future Research at National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) with Respect to Botanicals." The author is an Craig Hopp, PhD, NCCIH's coordinator for the Botanical Research Centers Program and overseer of other natural products initiatives. As the title suggests, Hopp begins with the results of the widely publicized phase III trails of individual herbs for major conditions (2002-2012). Included are studies of echinacea, bilberry, St. John's wort, saw palmetto, garlic, black cohosh, ginko, and more, for multiple conditions. The findings are captured, powerfully, in a single chart.

Hopp then transitions: "The Center has undertaken a critical evaluation of its natural products research funding to better understand past and current investments .. to determine where resources could have the most impact." He describes the direction taken by the NCCIH since. Foci relate to, among other things, methods, interactions, complexity, herbs and the microbiome, and the "omics" revolution.

I found the article a powerfully stimulating read. What a great topic to open to the community of Integrator readers. Thanks to the grant from Ruth Westreich, I have the bandwidth to manage such Forums again from time to time. Take a read through the article and let me know what you think. Here are some questions that came to me:

  • Image
    Your take on past outcomes and future directions?
    What do you make of the reported outcomes? Have they changed your prescribing? Your personal use? Your view of herbs as medicinal agents?
  • Do you like the direction NCCIH is taking with its botanicals portfolio?
  • Do you support the move away from examining botanicals in disease treatment?
  • Do you find any of the directions particularly exciting? How about the ways that complex botanicals interact with the microbiome? Which of NCCIH's directions are most hopeful, or likely dead-ends, and why?
  • If you were directing NCCIH, where would you be investing relative to botanicals? What advice would you give Hopp and NCCIH?

If you wish to participate in the Reader Forum, accessed the ABC article here (after signing in). Send your 50-400 word comments to by October 7, 2015.

Comment: I am aware in sending this out that I do so under two hats. One is my professional hat, deeply curious about what colleagues in the field make of these findings, and the direction. The other is my hat as a consumer of botanical products, wanting to know what others are doing with this information.

For those of you new to the Integrator, Reader Forums were a significant part of
Integrator activity in the first years. An example is here: Integrator Forum: 20 Voices on Weil/Univ. Arizona and the American Board of Integrative Medicine. Thanks again to Ruth Westreich whose investment allows me to engage the community in this way.


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