“Just to clarify, I’m not leaving,”​ Blumenthal told NutraIngredients-USA. “I’ll still be around as someone who can provide institutional memory.”

Blumenthal noted that ABC has grown tremendously since he founded the nonprofit platform in 1988.  The original purpose was to provide greater support for the newsletter he was already publishing under the aegis of ABC’s progenitor, the Herb Research Foundation.

“It was a newsletter we created on a typewriter and pasted it up with glue sticks,”​ Blumenthal said.

Talking herbs out of realm of folklore

At the time he started his mission, the term ‘herb’ had almost a strictly culinary meaning for most Americans and many citizens in other parts of the world.  And ‘botanical’ was a just name on a public garden that had pretty plants inside.

Most of the research that was being done to Western standards was coming out of Europe and was not widely disseminated. Plants when considered from a nutritional, health promotion sense, were just something your mother insisted you eat before you could have your ice cream.

If herbal remedies were thought of at all, they were generally put into the realm of legend, a dark age that modern medical science had rescued us from. Garlic garlands against vampires. Only the odd pharmacognosist was aware that many ‘modern’ medicines had first been isolated from plants.

“I decided what this community needed was a depository of all research that could help enhance the credibility of herbal medicine.  Back then it was all thought of as folklore and it was very little known that there was any science at all,” ​Blumenthal said.