The 2023 ACVBM Annual Conference was held on Thursday, June 8th 2023 in the Faculty Hall at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Molecular biologist Dr. Kevin Spelman and ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin, Ph.D were our speakers.





The Ethnobiology of the Amazon, presented by Mark Plotkin, Ph.D.


The rainforests of the world are disappearing at an alarming rate, and countless species of plants, animals and fungi face certain extinction. At the same time, we are witnessing the destruction of indigenous cultures who possess unique and vital knowledge of the therapeutic properties of these healing organisms. For decades, the western pharmaceutical industry has been dismissive of the healing potential of natural products, claiming that the future of new drugs was to be manifested through laboratory wizardry. However, the so-called "Psychedelic Renaissance" has changed the paradigm as the entheogenic compounds and shamanic wisdom offers enormous potential in the successful treat of diseases that have been considered incurable.


Mark Plotkin, Ph.D. is an ethnobotanist who was educated at Harvard, Yale and Tufts. For much of the past four decades, he has been studying the medicinal plants and traditional healers of tropical America, from Oaxaca to Brazil and is currently focusing on the ethnobotany of the northeast Amazon. He is the author of "Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice," and several other books and is host of the popular podcast, "Plants of the Gods: Hallucinogens, Healing, Culture and Conservation." Mark currently serves as the President of the Amazon Conservation Team (www.amazonteam.org).





The Art and Science of Phyto-Pharmacology: From Ethnobotany to Network Pharmacology, presented by Dr. Kevin Spelman


Pharmacologists too often are confused by the long list of therapeutic indications for which just one medicinal plant can be used. In their isolate the jewel from the phytochemical jungle of a plant, they often miss activities because of a lack of understanding of the principles of network pharmacology (NP). When applied to medicinal plants, a rich tapestry of pharmacological targets and activities emerge, well beyond what a single isolated compound could do. Using the lens of NP to view such topics as botanical synergy and pleiotropy weaves a web of complexity that embraces pharmacologically based therapeutic targeting and suggests an update to the biomedical model.


In these lectures Kevin elucidated plant therapeutics used for various conditions, including cancer and stress, and examine the inherent ensemble approach behind plant-based medicines.


Dr. Kevin Spelman is a molecular biologist and phytotherapist who has worked with medicinal plants in the field and clinic. As a researcher he has performed clinical trials and immunological investigations, studied plants for brain & ovarian cancer, cannabinoid signaling and chemical analysis. International research has included the analysis of nutrient levels in teenage women in West Africa, working with children with neurological disorders in Central America and investigating antimalarial plant activity in France. As a clinician, he has practiced Ayurvedic medicine, supported by the molecular understanding of phytopharmacology, for over 3 decades and has delivered over 100 CMEs/CEUs for healthcare providers. Dr. Spelman has been an adjunct assistant professor at Mass College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, National University of Natural Medicine , Bastyr University & Maryland University of Integrative Health and directs Health, Education & Research, a consulting service for the Natural Products and Cannabis industry which offers services in research, formulations, product development and novel phytochemical applications. He currently holds 3 formulation patents.




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