|NCCAM and ODS Co-Fund Five Botanical
Five dietary supplement research centers focusing on
studies of botanical products have been jointly funded
by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative
Medicine (NCCAM) and the Office of Dietary Supplements
(ODS), both components of the National Institutes of
Health (NIH). Research conducted by these centers will
advance the scientific base of knowledge about the safety,
effectiveness, and mechanisms of action of botanicals.
Botanical products are widely used by many Americans
despite a lack of evidence for most regarding whether
they are safe or effective. The 2002 National Health
Interview Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention indicated that 38.2 million American
adults (about 19 percent) use nonvitamin, nonmineral
natural products, primarily botanical supplements.
"Given that millions of Americans are using natural
products, these research centers are critical to helping
us determine whether and by what mechanisms botanicals
may serve as effective treatments or preventive approaches," said
Stephen E. Straus, M.D., NCCAM Director. "The five centers
we are funding will investigate the use of a variety
of widely consumed botanicals, from flaxseed to tarragon,
for a range of diseases and conditions that affect many
Americans, such as asthma, atherosclerosis, cataracts,
Details on the recipients of these 5-year botanical
research center grants are listed below.
Botanical Center for Age-Related Diseases
Principal Investigator: Connie Weaver, Ph.D.
Partner Institutions: Purdue University, West LaFayette,
IN; University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL; Rutgers
University, New Brunswick, NJ
Researchers in this collaborative program will investigate
the health effects of polyphenols (a diverse group of
chemical components widely distributed in plants) from
sources such as soy and kudzu. They will study the ability
of these agents to prevent and treat common conditions
associated with aging, including osteoporosis, cognitive
decline, and cataracts.
Botanical Dietary Supplements for Women's Health
Principal Investigator: Norman Farnsworth, Ph.D.
Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago, IL (UIC)
This center focuses on herbal supplements with implications
for benefit in women's health. For example, UIC scientists
are conducting a clinical trial to determine if black
cohosh and red clover provide relief of menopausal symptoms
including hot flashes. In addition to conducting basic
and clinical research looking at standardization, metabolism,
and toxicity of botanicals, the center will support
research training in pharmacognosy (the study of natural
Botanicals and Metabolic Syndrome
Principal Investigator: William Cefalu, M.D.
Partner Institutions: Pennington Biomedical Research
Center, Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge,
LA; Center of Agriculture and the Environment of Rutgers
University, New Brunswick, NJ
Researchers will study extracts of Russian tarragon,
Shilianhua (a Chinese herbal product), and grape seed
and how they may influence molecular and cellular processes
associated with the metabolic syndrome, which consists
of obesity, insulin resistance, development of type
2 diabetes, and accelerated cardiovascular disease.
MSKCC Research Center for Botanical Immunomodulators
Co-Principal Investigators: Barrie Cassileth, Ph.D.,
and Philip Livingston, M.D.
Partner Institutions: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Center, New York, NY; Weill Medical College of Cornell
University, New York, NY; The Rockefeller University,
New York, NY; the Institute of Chinese Medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
This center will investigate botanicals with reported
ability to modulate immune function-echinacea, astralgus,
turmeric, maitake, and a traditional Chinese formula-and
their relevance for the treatment of cancer and infectious
Wake Forest and Harvard Center for Botanical Lipids
Principal Investigator: Floyd Chilton, Ph.D.
Partner Institutions: Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem,
NC; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
This center will examine biological mechanisms and
clinical applications of polyunsaturated fatty acids
derived from botanicals, such as flaxseed, echium, and
borage. The studies will focus on the anti-inflammatory
actions of botanical oils and their potential to prevent
and treat inflammatory diseases, such as atherosclerosis
"In 1999, NIH developed a botanical research center
initiative with major research institutions across the
nation," said Paul Coates, Ph.D., Director of ODS. "These
five centers will continue to fulfill the goal of this
initiative to foster interdisciplinary collaborative
research, in order to identify potential health benefits
and to develop a systematic evaluation of the safety
and effectiveness of botanicals, particularly those
available as dietary supplements."
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative
Medicine (NCCAM) is dedicated to exploring complementary
and alternative medical (CAM) practices in the context
of rigorous science, training CAM researchers, and
disseminating authoritative information to the public
and professionals. For additional information, call
NCCAM's Clearinghouse toll free at 1-888-644-6226,
or visit the NCCAM Web site at nccam.nih.gov.
The mission of the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
(ODS) is to strengthen knowledge and understanding
of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information,
stimulating and supporting research, disseminating
research results, and educating the public to foster
an enhanced quality of life and health for the U.S.
population. For additional information about ODS,