News & Events

Dr. Richard B. Van Breemen

Posted on October 30, 2015


Date - October 30, 2015
1:00 pm


Matthias C. Lu Collegiate Professor of Pharmacy, and Director, UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements
Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy,
University of Illinois College of Pharmacy

“Development of Safe and Effective Botanical Dietary Supplements for Women’s Health”


Studies such as the Women’s Health Initiative have suggested increased risks of stroke, breast cancer and heart disease in older women using hormone therapy for relief from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. These risks have prompted many women to seek alternatives such as botanical dietary supplements. Since scientific investigation of the safety and efficacy of botanical dietary supplements remains incomplete, these concerns have been the focus of the UIC Botanical Center since it was founded in 1999. We use a systematic approach to develop botanically supplements that are safe and effective that begins with a review of the scientific and ethnobotanical literature concerning botanicals already in use by women. Botanicals are authenticated to avoid misidentification, and to ensure a safe and effective product, botanical dietary supplements are developed in a manner analogous to pharmaceuticals. These steps include identification of mechanisms of action and active constituents, chemical standardization based on the active compounds, biological stan­dardization based on pharmacological activity, preclinical evaluation of toxicity and potential for drug-botanical interactions, metabolism of active compounds, and finally, clinical studies of safety and efficacy.  To date, three Phase I studies of safety, maximum tolerated dose, and pharmacokinetics have been completed for red clover, black cohosh and hops. Two botanicals, red clover and black cohosh, have completed Phase II safety and efficacy studies. Currently, our pre-clinical and clinical safety studies are focused on the possibility of drug-botanical interactions including inhibition and induction of drug metabolizing enzymes, especially the cytochrome P450 enzymes, and induction or inhibition of drug transporters.

Supported by NIH grant P50 AT000155 from the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health