In April 2022, the American Botanical Council (ABC) announced the election of widely respected medicinal plant experts Tieraona Low Dog, MD, Josef Brinckmann, and Christopher Hobbs, PhD, LAc, to the ABC Board of Trustees.
“We are thrilled and deeply honored that these revered, knowledgeable, and experienced professionals are joining ABC’s Board of Trustees,” said ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. “I have known each of them for more than 35 years, and I have always marveled at their depth of knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants and their profound passion for herbal medicine, ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, phytotherapy, mycology, and related disciplines associated with beneficial herbs and fungi. Each of them is a longtime member of the ABC Advisory Board and has contributed significantly to ABC in a variety of ways, including authoring and peer reviewing numerous ABC publications. In recognition of their respective achievements in the world of medicinal plants, ABC also has honored each of them with one of ABC’s Botanical Excellence Awards. The ABC leadership team and I look forward to working with them.”
ABC Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, praised the new Board of Trustees members’ accomplishments and experience. “Each of the three new members of the Board of Trustees brings unique expertise that will help guide ABC’s nonprofit mission for the years to come,” he said. “It will be a privilege for ABC to have such a level of expertise on our Board of Trustees and to work with such talented, knowledgeable, generous, and wonderful human beings.”
Tieraona Low Dog
Low Dog is a well-known physician, author, and educator with more than 40 years of experience and is one of the foremost experts in the United States on the safe and appropriate use of botanical remedies and dietary supplements in selfcare and clinical practice. Before earning her medical degree from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, she practiced herbal medicine, midwifery, massage therapy, and martial arts.
Low Dog has overseen the evaluation panel for supplement/botanical safety of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), including joint reviews with the US Department of Defense, for the past 20 years. Celebrated integrative physician Andrew Weil, MD, chose Low Dog to run the Fellowship Training Program for Physicians at the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, where she served as the director of education and then fellowship director from 2004 to 2014. She is also a founding member of the American Board of Integrative Medicine and the Academy for Women’s Health.
“I am deeply honored to be invited to serve on the ABC Board of Trustees,” said Low Dog. “As a physician, educator, and herbalist, I feel a shared alignment with the values and mission of ABC. Given the misinformation in the media, the organization’s commitment to providing the public with the most current scientific advances in botanical research, while honoring the rich herbal traditions of the world, is unique.”
Low Dog has written more than 50 research articles in medical and scientific journals and 20 chapters for medical textbooks, and she has been invited to speak at more than 600 conferences. She has authored or co-authored five books, four of which National Geographic published: Fortify Your Life (2016), Healthy at Home (2014), Life is Your Best Medicine (2012), and Guide to Medicinal Herbs (2012). She also was the co-editor of Integrative Women’s Health (Oxford University Press, 2015).
“As an avid lover of nature and the green world, I honor ABC’s long tradition of promoting the sustainability of medicinal plants around the globe,” Low Dog added. “It is my deepest hope that I may bring my knowledge and experience to support and further the mission of this amazing organization.”
Low Dog was the recipient of the inaugural ABC Fredi Kronenberg Excellence in Research and Education in Botanicals for Women’s Health Award for 2017.
Brinckmann has worked in the medicinal plant field since 1979. He currently serves as the Research Fellow of Medicinal Plants and Botanical Supply Chain of Sebastopol, California-based Traditional Medicinals, a leading manufacturer of herbal teas and other herbal medicinal products. Brinckmann also serves as contributing editor of HerbalGram and as an Advisory Group member of ABC’s Sustainable Herbs Program. He was the recipient of the ABC Champion Award for 2016 in recognition of his extensive volunteer services for ABC.
“The importance and value of ABC’s work has been obvious to me since the very inception of ABC,” said Brinckmann. “The quality of my research has benefited from access to ABC publications, and, in recent decades, I have been honored to also participate in the research and co-writing of ABC educational materials. It seems only natural at this point to participate with ABC at a deeper level. I did not hesitate to accept this invitation.”
Since 2005, Brinckmann has been an elected member of the USP Botanical Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines (DSHM) Expert Committee and the USP DSHM Nomenclature Joint Sub-Committee. Since 2006, he has served the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) as an advisor on commercial sources and handling, as contributing writer of international regulatory status sections of AHP monographs, and editorial board member of the AHP Herbal Quality, Research, and Safety Bulletin.
“The perspective I will bring to the board is informed by more than 42 years of experience in sustainable production, quality assurance, and global trade of medicinal and aromatic plant raw materials, valued-added processed botanical ingredients, and finished herbal medicinal products,” Brinckmann said.
Hobbs is a fourth-generation, internationally renowned herbalist and mycologist, licensed acupuncturist, herbal clinician, research scientist, consultant for the dietary supplement industry, expert witness, botanist, and public speaker, with more than 35 years of experience. He also is a co-founder of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), the only national professional herbal practitioner’s organization in the United States.
“I’m very excited to join the ABC Board of Trustees [and] … to be a part of the community of the highly dedicated and experienced people who have created an organization whose work I can really relate to,” Hobbs said. “ABC’s focus on research, testing, and delving into published studies on herb quality, purity, identity, and efficacy is unique in this important and rapidly growing community and industry that serve so many millions. ABC is really the gatekeeper for these important issues.
“I’m honored to join Dr. Low Dog and Josef Brinckmann as the other new members of the board,” Hobbs added. “Their dedication, knowledge, and experience are unsurpassed in our community. Herbal medicine and product quality are in their DNA and are their life’s work.”
Hobbs has lectured on herbal medicine worldwide and is the author or co-author of numerous articles and more than 20 books, including Christopher Hobbs’s Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide (Storey Publishing, 2020), which received the ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award for 2021. He earned his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, with research and publications in evolutionary biology, biogeography, phylogenetics, plant chemistry, and ethnobotany. He is currently a member of the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“Like ABC, I am dedicated to honoring the traditions of herbalism, while embracing rigorous scientific research that advances our knowledge of how the herbs work and the efficacy and safety of herbs, with a special emphasis on herb quality,” Hobbs said. “This encapsulates my journey of many decades of involvement with the herb community and industry as a consultant on herb efficacy, safety, and product quality as a formulator, research scientist, and licensed traditional Chinese practitioner. I also seek to always combine the best of traditional herbalism with the best science.”