Maury Silverman 1946–2010
Maury Morton Silverman, an herb and natural medicine enthusiast who often went to great lengths to inform others about herbal medicines, dietary supplements, and complementary and alternative medicine, passed away on January 30, 2010, from complications related to a heart attack.1 Silverman intensely lobbied Congress for the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) in the early 1990s.
“Almost on a weekly basis, a brown manila envelope would show up in the mail, unsolicited, with a host of herbal and health freedom-related materials that Maury found on his weekly runs to the National Library of Medicine,” said Roy Upton, executive director of American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) and long-time friend of Silverman (e-mail, February 17, 2010). “Occasionally, photocopies of entire texts would show up from books he found and knew would be of interest to others. He would send these packages on his own dime to people he thought would use that information to revamp the dominant disease care system, which was a passion of his.”
Upton noted that this was in spite of Silverman’s almost constant personal financial struggles to keep a roof over his head: “He was committed to changing the disease care system into a healthcare system and seemed to work tirelessly, with little funding and little support from others, to help this manifest by providing informational support to others.”
“He understood that there were a lot of ways to heal besides allopathic medicine,” said Silverman’s sister Rhiana Levy (oral communication, May 25, 2010). “There are often a lot of problems with allopathic medicine, like side effects. Maury understood that a healer must heal the whole body.”
Silverman often provided information to members of Congress and industry organizations. During the lobbying period before DSHEA, he delivered literally thousands of pieces of information to Congress, and he also visited their offices weekly with information from organizations such as Citizens for Health and the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA), said Upton. He was known to have stopped a senator at an elevator in the Senate building and an agency director walking his dog through his neighborhood in order to discuss the value of natural healthcare, said Upton. He would even attend Congressional hearings that affected the natural healthcare movement and distribute the testimonies of presenting experts before they were made available through Congress.
“He was doing what he was doing for the right reasons, to make the world a better place for others and not for ego, finances, or fame,” said Upton.
Silverman was on the American Herbal Products Association’s (AHPA) payroll for a time, since he was so good at retrieving information from the National Agricultural Library or the National Library of Medicine, said Steven Dentali, PhD, chief science officer of AHPA (e-mail, May 6, 2010). “He would show up in the AHPA office with an insatiable appetite for sharing and collecting of information, and free use of the copier.”
Also, according to Dr. Dentali, Silverman’s collection of natural healing books covered all aspects of the subject from the 1970s onward: “It was present in every room of his house in bookcases that lined every wall,” said Dr. Dentali. “I heard that he was sometimes forced to move due to building structural damage caused by the weight of his library.”
“Maury was probably one of the greatest contributors and resources of natural healthcare and foundational botanical knowledge on the planet,” said George Freibott IV, ND, Silverman’s friend of 25 years and president of the American Naturopathic Association (oral communication, June 1, 2010).
Dr. Freibott and Silverman had been working together with the American Naturopathic Association and the American Library for Health to create a global natural medicine e-library. With over 100,000 volumes of material, some dating back to the 14th century, this library should be available at www.webnd.org/ilh in the near future. A scanning facility will continue to scan in this valuable natural, alternative, and botanical information over the next few years.
“The combined library of the American Naturopathic Association and the American Library for Health will give an incredible asset of knowledge to natural healthcare researchers and advocates of nature,” said Dr. Freibott. “Its greatest assets are the many obscure botanical reports and studies compiled by Maury Silverman, in his private research that he collected for the many agencies he assisted in studying the natural alternative healing arts and sciences.”
“Maury was a true believer—single-minded, focused, and totally committed to natural health,” said American Botanical Council Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. “He worked almost tirelessly for the benefit of the natural health agenda, seldom thinking of himself, always putting the interests of others first, unfortunately, often to his own financial detriment. Like many others in the natural health community, I too have piles of photocopied books and manuscripts that Maury sent to me, unsolicited. With his passing, I’m sure that the copier at the National Library of Medicine will be able to take a much needed breath!”
Silverman is survived by sisters Miriam Komisarof, Rhiana Levy, and Marlene Kossoff, as well as 6 nieces and nephews. His brother Michael preceded him in death.
—Kelly E. Lindner
1. Obituary: Maury M. Silverman. Washington Post. February 8, 2010. Available at: www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?n=maurym-silverman&pid=139520335. Accessed February 15, 2010.