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UIC Botanical Center in the Press

August 2017 ACS Press Release "Licorice is a hot trend in hot flashes, but could interact with medications"

""Concerns about the risk of stroke and breast cancer associated with conventional hormone therapy are prompting women to seek alternatives," Richard B. van Breemen, Ph.D., says. "Some take botanical dietary supplements, such as licorice, to treat menopausal symptoms like hot flashes.""

See the full press conference here!

August 2017 C&EN "Botanical supplements can inhibit drug-metabolizing enzymes"

"Women seeking relief from menopausal symptoms sometimes reach for botanical dietary supplements. Extracts from licorice, hops, and red clover contain phytoestrogens that help mitigate hot flashes, for example These extracts also contain a “mush” of other compounds that act on a multitude of biological targets with possible unintended consequences, said Judy Bolton, head of the medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy department at the University of Illinois, Chicago.


Studying these kinds of drug-drug interactions is required by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in pharmaceutical development, but no such requirements exist for botanical supplement development. Richard B. van Breemen, a colleague of Bolton’s at UIC and director of the NIH-funded Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research, works to fill in that knowledge gap. His team at the center identifies potentially harmful botanical-drug interactions, including supplements marketed to menopausal women."

April 2017 Tablets & Capsules "Researchers investigate the promise of botanicals"

""We are well recognized and respected by the experts in our field," said Richard van Breemen, director of the Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He said more collaboration with the dietary supplement industry would be beneficial. "If dietary supplement manufactureres can put on their labels that they invested in studies that provide evidence of their prodocts' safety and efficacfy, I think it would help them sell more and it would ultimately benefit the consumers.""

January 17, 2017 ASPET PharmTalk Blog "Botanical Dietary Supplements From the Perspective of a Researcher"

"We have chosen to commence 2017 with a particularly interesting interview conducted with Dr. Atieh Hajirahimkhan, a Post-doctoral Research Associate in Dr. Judy Bolton’s laboratory in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois. Dr. Hajirahimkhan is a co-author on a fascinating review article entitled “Botanicals and Their Bioactive Phytochemicals for Women's Health” published in Pharmacological Reviews, one of the many prestigious ASPET journals."

October 11, 2016 Shimadzu's Momentum "Inspiration from natural sources"

"The aim of the UIC Botanical Center, which is directed by van Breemen, is to provide overarching, detailed research into how these botanical supplements work and interact with the body, and indeed with presceiption medications."

June 24, 2016 Shape "Could Beer Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer?"

"But no one was sure what effect the hops supplements had on breast cancer (if any)—and that's what made study researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago start digging. They tested a form of hops extract on two lines of breast cells. "Our extract is an enriched hops extract that was designed to maximize the beneficial hops compounds," says Judy L. Bolton, Ph.D., professor and head of the department of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of the study. "

June 22, 2016 ACS News "Hops could help reduce breast cancer risk"

Highlight of "Hop (Humulus lupulus L.) Extract and 6-Prenylnaringenin Induce P450 1A1 Catalyzed Estrogen 2-Hydroxylation” from Chemical Research in Toxicology. This story was picked up by many media outlets including: Chicago's CBS2, Medical News Today, and Shape (see above).

April 11, 2016 Scienceline "Finding real relief: The search for an effective dietary supplement"

"One of these labs, the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research, has been funded by the NIH since the program started. They’re not looking for new plants to take to market. Instead, they’re looking at supplements already available on store shelves." The Center's at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and Louisiana State University are also highlighted.

February 29, 2016 The Wall Street Journal "How Your Supplements Interact With Prescription Drugs"

"With funding from the NIH, researchers at the UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements at the University of Illinois in Chicago are focusing on health for women, especially those over 55 who are the largest consumers of botanicals. Many use supplements such as licorice, hops and red clover to relieve menopause symptoms as an alternative to hormone drugs, according to Richard van Breemen, the center’s director. The center plans to start the first of three human trials in July to explore how the supplements may interact with prescription medications women take for other health issues such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

In a review published in the February issue of the journal Drug Metabolism and Distribution, Dr. van Breemen and Alyssa Sprouse, program manager at the University of Illinois research center, found that clinical studies of some botanicals, such as milk thistle, that were predicted to interact with drugs were found not to be problematic. That may be in part because the body didn’t absorb the supplement in large enough quantities to affect a drug’s metabolism, Dr. Sprouse says.
To avoid expensive trials in humans of substances that show no adverse effects, the University of Illinois team is using mathematical models to help identify which predicted drug-supplement interactions warrant study in humans."

June 24, 2015 Business Insider "Rumors are circulating that certain types of beer give you 'man boobs’"

"Here's van Breemen: "It's true that there is a minute quantity of [the estrogen-like compound, known as] 8-prenylnaringenin, in hops, and there ought to be a trace of it in beer, but I would say the levels are too low to function as a [hormone] disruptor.""

February 3, 2015 NPR's Here & Now "When It Comes To Nutritional Supplements, It's 'Buyer Beware'"

Interview with Richard van Breemen about the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's letters to supplement companies and Food and Drug Administration regulation of dietary supplements.

March 18, 2013 Chemical & Engineering News "Analyzing Botanical Dietary Supplements"

“Development and dissemination of analytical techniques such as these should help to get the botanical supplements field onto more rigorous scientific footing.”

February 7, 2008 ABC7 Chicago "The Buzz on Beer"

""One way in which Xan might prevent cancer is to stimulate cells to protect themselves," said Richard Van Breemen, Ph.D., Medicinal Chemistry UIC College of Pharmacy. The health effects of xanthohumol weren't know until about 10 years ago. Now researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago are studying how it works and exactly how much you need of this compound isn't known yet. "Xan content in beer is fairly low. Maybe not a medicinal level. So we are hoping to develop some botanical dietary supplements," said Van Breemen. They're also looking at xanthohumol as a natural alternative to hormone replacement for menopause."

August 12, 2003 The New York Times "Herbs for Hot Flashes: New Attention, Mixed Results"

"At the University of Illinois, an expert on medicinal plants, Norman Farnsworth, said his laboratory had confirmed that black cohosh acted on the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that regulates hormones and body temperature, a development that could support the herb's safety."

October 6, 1999 Chicago Sun-Times "Herbal therapy gets serious study"