Studies of the safety, effectiveness, and biological action of botanical products are major focuses for the five dietary supplement research centers selected to be jointly funded by the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), two components of the National Institutes of Health. The NIH’s National Cancer Institute is co-supporting two of the five centers.
The competitive awards, approximately $1.5 million each per year for five years, were made to Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, La.; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of Missouri, Columbia; and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, N.C.
These five interdisciplinary and collaborative dietary supplement centers, known as the Botanical Research Centers (BRC) Program (http://ods.od.nih.gov/Research/BRCProgram), are expected to advance understanding of how botanicals may affect human health. “Eventually, the program may provide data that translates to new ways to reduce disease risk,” explained Paul M. Coates, Ph.D., director of ODS. “Until then, the research from these centers will help the public make informed decisions about botanical dietary supplements.”
“Botanicals are usually complex mixtures of many active constituents,” said Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director of NCCAM. “This complexity poses some unique research challenges that these centers are well positioned to address.”
The 2007 National Health Interview Survey shows that about 18 percent of adults reported taking a non-vitamin, non-mineral, natural product, spending about $15 billion on the purchase of these products. These products contain a dietary ingredient intended to supplement the diet other than vitamins and minerals, such as single herbs or mixtures.