30 People Who Shaped the Natural Products Industry

In commemoration of Vitamin Retailer magazine’s 30th anniversary, we assembled a list of 30 people who shaped, built and defended the natural products industry over the last 30 years. The year 2024 is also the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.

For every person we included, there were two-to-three other people we would have liked to also include but, due to space considerations, we could not.

Therefore, while this is a strong alphabetical list that we feel good about, we also know that lists, by their very nature, include some and exclude—however reluctantly—others. In a few cases, inclusion decisions were based on who responded to us, and who did not.

We at Vitamin Retailer are grateful for these leaders and luminaries for having paved the way.

Milton Bass, JD

Attorney Milton Bass devoted the vast majority of his long and illustrious professional career focused on food and drug law, working on issues that concerned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Department of Justice, most notably the 1976 Vitamin Bill.

On June 18, 1966, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced onerous vitamin and mineral regulations that would have banned nutrient potencies above 100 percent of the RDAs by classifying those products as drugs, in addition to labeling requirements that would have eliminated most useful information.

The industry’s rallying cry was: “PROTECT us NOT from that which is GOOD!” Ultimately the industry and consumers won this battle on Apr. 22, 1976 when the Hosmer-Proxmire Vitamin Bill—which eliminated these proposed regulations—was signed into law.

At the time, Bass and retailer Max Huberman wrote: “This landmark legislation is the greatest victory for the health-food industry and consumers ever achieved.” And it was.

In July 2000, shortly before he died, Bass was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, given by the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA, now the Natural Products Association, or NPA); in fact, into the 1990s, Bass served as co-counsel for the association.

His son, Scott Bass, JD, is the founder of Sidley’s Global Life Sciences and Food and Drug Law practices in the United States, China and Europe, and was a lead drafter of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.

Joe Bassett

He was a U.S. Army veteran who served during the Korean War. Joe Bassett and his wife Patricia started Bassett’s Health Foods in 1969, bringing vitamins and supplements to the Toledo, OH area. The two retail outlets also offered a range of private-label products, with formulas developed by Bassett using his knowledge of nutrition.

Bassett was trained and certified in several fields including (but not limited to) iridology, massage therapy, nutritional therapy, reiki, applied kinesiology and nutritional education. He became a naturopathic medical doctor (NMD), and a doctor of machanotherapy (DM).

He was also vigorously involved in supporting consumer access to dietary supplements, actively participating as a member of the National Nutritional Foods Association.

During Bassett’s first term as president of NNFA from 1993 to 1995, his leadership was critical in leading efforts to pass DSHEA, which created a new regulatory pathway for dietary supplements.

During his second term as president, from 1997 to 1999, he continued to champion the industry’s goal of providing clear, substantiated information about the health benefits of supplements to consumers.

Bassett was a talk show host on WSPD for many years with his program Nutritionally Speaking. He also published numerous articles and taught many classes and seminars.

Bassett died in 2012.

Mark Blumenthal

Mark Blumenthal is the founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council (ABC). Blumenthal is also the editor-in-chief and publisher of HerbalGram, an international peer-reviewed quarterly journal, the contents of which reflect the educational goals of ABC which he co-founded in 1983.

He is also founder and director of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program, a consortium of nonprofit organizations that researches and educates industry members and other stakeholders on the adulteration of botanical raw materials, extracts, and essential oils in the global supply network.

In 1975, he was a founding board member of the Herb Trade Association (HTA) and was elected president of the HTA in 1979. In 1982, he was a founding board member of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), and he helped co-found the Herb Research Foundation (HRF) serving as vice president. In 1988, he founded the ABC, of which he remains the executive director and ex officio member of the Board of Trustees.

Through his organizational affiliations, Blumenthal has been a leader in the herb movement in areas such as quality control of herbal products, ethics in labeling and marketing, legal and regulatory issues, and research and education.

Blumenthal has been a sought-after guest on radio and television talk shows and has appeared on an estimated 400 programs. He and ABC are also major sources of information for journalists, editors and freelance writers.

Patricia Bragg

Patricia Bragg was a visionary who positively transformed the lives of millions through her work in health and wellness education, and nearly five decades as the CEO of Bragg Live Food Products.

A spirited health-food pioneer, she became part of the Bragg family in 1952 through her marriage to the son of Paul Bragg, the founding father and original namesake behind Bragg Live Food Products. The enduring business partnership between Patricia and Paul Bragg led to a decades-long career as an enthusiastic environmentalist and groundbreaking woman in wellness.

Guided by her passion for health advocacy, holistic well-being and nutrition education, the Braggs co-hosted live lectures and radio broadcasts, appeared on their own Health and Happiness television show, and co-authored books promoting health-conscious lifestyle choices.

Patricia Bragg took the reins of Bragg Live Foods in the 1970s, serving as the company’s CEO until her retirement in 2019, just before her 90th birthday. During her tenure, she diversified the company’s product line and introduced many bestsellers that remain flagship products today, including: Apple Cider Vinegar with Honey, Nutritional Yeast seasoning and Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks.

Even in her final years, Patricia Bragg always found a way to promote radiant health and timeless beauty, putting a positive spin on aging as she often exclaimed, “Age is a number, and mine is unlisted!”

Bragg died in 2023.

Emanuel Bronner

Starting out mainly selling food products and nutritional supplements, soap eventually took over as the primary product. When the 1960s arrived, the audience Dr. Emanuel Bronner had always looked for finally arrived. Hippies, naturalists, and all manner of free thinkers embraced the simple soap and its label of peace for people and planet.

Though he was fully blind by the 1970s, he moved the company down to Escondido, CA. His focus was always on the message on the label. The more soap that sold, the more the label got into the hands of people to read it. He even put his personal phone number on the label so that anyone who wanted to discuss the ideas could reach him; it’s the same number for the company today.

Bronner led the company with a devoted team for many years, until Parkinson’s disease in the mid-1990s slowly and inexorably brought him to a halt. He died in 1997.

The company was still committed to making superb products and serving as a bastion of integrity in the industry. The company championed causes such as the establishment of strong organic standards for body care, the reform of drug policy to acknowledge the non-psychoactive nature of hemp-seed oil, the importance of fair-trade standards, and more recently the creation and implementation of the Regenerative Organic Certification.

The company grew from less than $3 million in annual sales to nearly $200 million, from less than 10 employees to more than 300 today.

John and Susan Carlson

John Carlson is considered a pioneer who helped build the modern natural products industry. As a co-founder of Carlson Laboratories with his wife, Susan Carlson, in 1965, he was integral in supplying high quality vitamins and minerals for more than 45 years.

Carlson Labs was founded with a single product, Key-E 200 IU, in 1965. The second product, E-Gems 200 IU, was introduced two years later, and other strengths were added shortly after. Carlson quickly grew to offer the most complete line of natural-source vitamin E in the world.

Carlson was one of the first companies to understand the important health benefits of omega-3s contained in pure Norwegian fish oils and introduce them to the North American market in 1981.

During a lifetime of dedication to the dietary supplement industry, John Carlson was an active member of many industry organizations, including the Natural Products Association, the National Institute of Nutritional Education, and The Mid-American Health Organization, and was recognized for his service on many occasions.

John Carlson played an active role in the business through the company’s 45th anniversary in 2010 and passed away in 2011.

Carlson Vitamins is proud to still be family-owned and female-led by Susan’s two daughters, Carilyn Anderson (president) and Kirsten Carlson (vice president of marketing).

Hal and Francine Drexler

In 1971, Halbert and Francine Drexler launched Country Life from their basement, with the company’s name inspired by Francine’s vision for the company that came to her during a tranquil break spent in the family’s backyard.

Starting with exclusive distribution of a popular vitamin, the couple’s collaborative efforts became the cornerstone of the company’s growth. Trade show booths sparked aspirations of rivaling larger competitors and, as the company expanded, so did its team and product range.

Outgrowing their basement setup, Country Life moved to its first office in Hauppauge, NY, marking a significant milestone. The strategic opening of a West coast office expedited shipping, showcasing the duo’s commitment to efficiency.

The acquisition of Desert Essence, Iron Tek and Long Life Teas broadened Country Life’s portfolio, solidifying its status as a holistic wellness brand.

Halbert and Francine’s partnership, integral from the beginning, transformed Country Life into a comprehensive success.

“Today, the company stands as a symbol of resilience, an unwavering dream, and a deep-seated commitment to quality in the wellness industry,” noted daughter, Jodi Drexler.

Hal and Francine died in 2018 and 2015, respectively.

“Through perseverance, strategic decisions, and an unshakeable dedication to their vision, Halbert and Francine Drexler transformed Country Life into a resounding story of achievement,” added Drexler.

“With 97 percent of products manufactured in the U.S., their entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to quality have left an enduring legacy in the natural products industry, inspiring future generations of business owners.”

James Duke, PhD

In North Carolina, James Duke became interested in wildflowers and enjoyed going to the woods so much that he worked as a junior park ranger when he was in his teens.

After abandoning a music major at Chapel Hill, Duke eventually received three degrees at University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill, including his PhD in botany.

He was appointed chief of the Medicinal Plant Laboratory (1977), whose mission was to work in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to collect plants that had potential anti-tumor activity. This position took him around the globe as he documented toxic plants and traditional plant knowledge.

He continued work with this program while he began teaching from the Rainforest ecotours in the Amazon, where he went at least 50 to 60 times.

Duke retired from the USDA in 1995 to write his Rodale bestselling book The Green Pharmacy. The sales of his book allowed him to realize his dream and build the Green Farmacy Garden in his backyard.

While Duke was pleased about the impact his book The Green Pharmacy had, he was more proud of “Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases.”

“I know that my grandfather wished to see the Green Farmacy Garden preserved,” wrote Duke’s daughter Celia Larsen. He hoped students from all walks of life would be inspired by plant and herbal traditions and “he wished for future generations to see the primary rainforest while they can.”

Duke passed away in 2017.

Jonathan Emord, JD

Jonathan W. Emord has been practicing constitutional and administrative law before the federal courts and agencies since 1985. Having begun his career as an attorney in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, Emord has consistently fought to defend constitutional protections for the freedoms of speech and press.

He has defeated the FDA on constitutional grounds more times in federal court than any other attorney in American history (eight times). He is the author of seven critically acclaimed books, including Freedom, Technology and the First Amendment (1991), The Rise of Tyranny (2008), Global Censorship of Health Information (2010), Restore the Republic (2012) and The Authoritarians (2021).

Emord has practiced law for a number of well-respected firms, including Wiley, Rein & Fielding, and served as a Cato Institute Vice-President.

He is a Top-Rated Lawyer in the DC/Metro Area as rated by Martindale-Hubbell and ALM Media and has been rated by Martindale-Hubbell as AV Preeminent for decades—this is the highest rating and means an attorney has been recognized for possessing high levels of integrity and skill.

Emord is routinely consulted by industry, Congress, and the media on regulatory issues that affect health freedom.

At the time of publication, he is running for U.S. Senate in Virginia against Tim Kaine.

Annie Eng

In 2001, Annie Eng founded HP Ingredients to provide herbal solutions for the rapidly growing botanical supplement industry.

It all started with Tongkat Ali from Malaysia, her homeland. Growing up, Eng was intrigued by this herb, which was popular in traditional use, notably by men who wanted to remain virile.

After working in the field of finance, Eng decided to bring Tongkat Ali to the U.S., and organize research to back up the claims and use by the Orang Asli, the indigenous people of Malaysia. Eng is the first to bring this herb to the U.S. for the natural product industry.

She then formed an alliance with Dr. Juan Hancke to provide Andrographis paniculata and continue to steer research into this Asian herb. Later, working with H&A in Calabria, Italy, Eng brought over bergamot for cardiometabolic support.

She said, “I am very passionate about diving into studies and working with researchers to reveal the power of the herbs and their constituents. I have always liked the quote from Francis Bacon—‘Knowledge is power.’ In our case as a botanical ingredient specialist, this knowledge helps brands formulate safe and effective products. Also, I love to caretake the caretakers; those indigenous people who tend and cultivate the herbs and plants we use to create our ingredients. We support those people and their communities.”

In 2020, Eng led HP Ingredients to become a certified Woman-Owned Company.

Steven Foster

Steven Foster was a best-selling author in the field of medicinal plants and herbal medicine, a world-renowned photographer of medicinal plants, and a consultant to nonprofit organizations and herb industry members.

A Maine native, Foster started his career in 1974 at the Sabbathday Lake, Maine, Shaker’s Herb Department—America’s oldest herb business dating to 1799.

As an international consultant in medicinal and aromatic plant technical, conservation, and marketing issues, Foster served on projects all over the world.

Foster was the author or co-author of 21 books. He was senior author of three Peterson Field Guides, including the third edition of the Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Eastern and Central North America, A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs, and A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants of North America. Foster’s other titles include Tyler’s Honest Herbal, 4th edition and 101 Medicinal Herbs.

Foster was the senior author of National Geographic’s A Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine. He also published more than 800 articles for numerous trade, popular, and scientific periodicals. An acclaimed photographer with thousands of images in his stock photos files, Foster’s photographs appear in hundreds of publications.

Foster played a long and critically significant role in the development of ABC’s peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram for more than 35 years. Foster lived in Eureka Springs, AK with his wife, Donna. He is survived by his wife, his children—Abbey, Ashley, Allison, Colin, Farar, and Andy—and eight grandchildren.

He died in 2022.

Michael Funk

Michael S. Funk has been a member of the UNFI (United Natural Foods Inc.) board since February 1996 and served as chair of the board from January 2003 to December 2003 and again from September 2008 to December 2016.

Until January 1, 2019, Funk served as an executive advisor to UNFI. From its inception in July 1976 until April 2001, he served as president of Mountain People’s Warehouse, Inc., now known as United Natural Foods West, Inc., one of the company’s wholly owned subsidiaries. Funk has served on the board of Amy’s Kitchen since April 2023.

Funk’s extensive knowledge of our industry through his past service as UNFI’s CEO brings to the board—and the industry—valuable insights and a strong understanding of the natural and organic products distribution business. His deep institutional knowledge of the natural business and industry is said to be incomparable.

Senator Orrin Hatch

Over nearly 40 years of public service, Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) established himself as a leading conservative voice in the United States Senate. As the upper chamber’s most senior Republican, he served as President Pro Tempore and as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. In this role, he fought to create jobs and strengthen the economy by reforming the tax code and opening up overseas markets to American exports.

“In addition to protecting our individual liberties, Sen. Hatch was on the front lines of legislative battles to protect our free-market economy and system of limited government under the Constitution,” noted the Federalist Society upon Sen. Hatch’s passing in 2022.

His reputation as a statesman and his record of fiscal responsibility earned him the nickname “Mr. Balanced Budget” from President Reagan. By virtually all measures, Sen. Hatch was among the most effective and consequential legislators in American history. Since he first came to Congress in 1977, no legislator alive today has authored more bills that have become law than Sen. Hatch.

Sen. Hatch is revered in the natural products industry for his leadership role in the passage of the Hatch-Harkin-Richardson Bill, otherwise known as DSHEA.

Loren Israelsen was quoted as saying the following upon Sen. Hatch’s passing: “DSHEA exists because he refused to give up when all around him were battle weary and ready to throw in the towel. He would not let us, and rallied the troops more than once.”

Michael F. Holick, MD, PhD

After earning a PhD degree in biochemistry, a medical degree, and completing a research postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin, Michael F. Holick completed a residency in medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

As a graduate student he was the first to identify the major circulating form of vitamin D in human blood as 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. He then isolated and identified the active form of vitamin D as 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. He determined the mechanism for how vitamin D is synthesized in the skin, demonstrated the effects of aging, obesity, latitude, seasonal change, sunscreen use, skin pigmentation and clothing on this vital cutaneous process.

As a graduate student he was the first to identify the major circulating form of vitamin D in human blood as 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. He then isolated and identified the active form of vitamin D as 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. He determined the mechanism for how vitamin D is synthesized in the skin, demonstrated the effects of aging, obesity, latitude, seasonal change, sunscreen use, skin pigmentation and clothing on this vital cutaneous process.

Holick is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition and the American Association of Physicians. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the American Skin Association’s Psoriasis Research Achievement Award, the American College of Nutrition award, the Robert H. Herman Memorial Award, and many other awards.

Max Huberman

Max Huberman was a prolific author, consumer crusader and champion of natural and organic foods and farming methods. For more than 33 years (1958–1991), Huberman and his wife, Ruth, operated Natural Health Foods and Barbell Center in Youngstown, OH.

He was a regular columnist for the leading health publications of his era including Health Foods Retailing, Let’s Live, Natural Food and Farming, Strength and Health and other national publications.

In the 1960s, Huberman became a national board member of the National Dietary Foods Association (NDFA), the trade association for the health foods industry, the name of which was later changed to the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA).

Huberman quickly rose in the ranks of leadership to become its president, a position he held for five years (1972–1977). During his tenure, he became the industry’s chief spokesman in opposing draconian administrative efforts by the FDA and FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to improperly restrict the sale of vitamins and mineral supplements.

He considered his crowning achievement the passage of the Proxmire Vitamin Bill. This is generally regarded as the greatest victory for the health foods industry and consumer rights ever achieved.

Huberman’s famous rallying cry was “No surrender! No retreat!”

Other achievements during his NNFA presidency were the adoption of voluntary standards for the production of supplements, fair nutritional labeling and the establishment of the Rachel Carson Memorial Award.

For his numerous efforts, on June 28, 2003, Huberman was presented the NNFA’s “Crusader Award” for his lifetime of contributions to the Association and the industry.

Huberman died in 2008. His son, Mark, is president of the National Health Association.

Loren Israelsen

Loren Israelsen is president and founder of the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA).

For 43 years, he has been deeply involved in the political, regulatory, and commercial issues facing the global dietary supplement industry.

One of the driving forces behind the passage of DSHEA, he has authored several hundred articles and book chapters on dietary supplements and their regulation.

Currently, Israelsen’s greatest interests are the growing presence of advanced technologies entering the natural products industry and preservation of the cultural knowledge upon which the natural products industry is founded.

Terry Lemerond

Terry Lemerond is the founder and president of EuroPharma, Inc. maker of the Terry Naturally brand of nutritional supplements. With a lifelong passion for health and nutrition, Lemerond has owned several health food stores and nutritional manufacturing companies prior to EuroPharma, including Enzymatic Therapy, Inc. and PhytoPharmica, Inc.

With more than 55 years in the natural products industry, Lemerond has researched and developed more than 500 nutritional and botanical formulations that continue to be top-selling products in the market today. He is credited as the first to introduce glucosamine sulfate, IP-6, standardized Ginkgo biloba, the concept of botanical standardization, and complex formulations for specific health indications to the U.S. health food market.

The current Terry Naturally brand offers more than 100 products including the award-winning pain formula, Curamin, and the CuraMed family of products, featuring the most clinically studied, enhanced absorption curcumin on the market today.

A much sought-after speaker and accomplished author, Lemerond shares his wealth of experience and knowledge in health and nutrition through his educational programs, including the Terry Talks Nutrition website, newsletters, podcasts, webinars and personal speaking engagements. His books include Seven Keys to Vibrant Health and the sequel, Seven Keys to Unlimited Personal Achievement, 50+ Natural Health Secrets Proven to Change Your Life and his newest publication, Discovering Your Best Health.

Continually recognized as a leader in the natural products industry, Lemerond’s awards include: First recipient of the American Botanical Council’s Champion Award (2015); Southeast Natural Products Association President’s Award (2013); President’s Award by the Natural Products Association Southwest (2010); and the Natural Products Association Industry Champion Award (2008).

Tieraona Low Dog, MD

Tieraona Low Dog, MD, is considered one of the nation’s leading experts in integrative medicine and the safe and effective use of herbal medicine and dietary supplements. For more than 25 years, she was the elected chair of numerous dietary supplement–botanical expert panels at the United States Pharmacopeia.

Low Dog led the University of Arizona Fellowship in Integrative Medicine, founded by Dr. Andrew Weil, where she oversaw the training of hundreds of physicians. She was a Presidential appointee under Bill Clinton and appointed under George W. Bush to the Advisory Council for the National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Four-time National Geographic author, she has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, spoken at more than 600 conferences, consulted for many Fortune 500 companies, was honored as Time magazine’s Innovator of the Year, received an honorary doctorate in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University and is the recipient of four Lifetime Achievement Awards and three Awards for Excellence in Science and Public Health.

Low Dog has also trained in midwifery, massage therapy, is a guiding teacher at the New York Zen Center, past president of the American Herbalist Guild, and holds a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo.

John Mackey

John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, has led the natural and organic grocer to become a $13.7 billion Fortune 500 company. With more than 500 stores and 91,000 employees in three countries, the company has been named by Fortune magazine as a “Best Company to Work For” for 20 consecutive years and the Number One Most Admired Food and Drug Store Company in the World.

While dedicating his career to helping shoppers satisfy their lifestyle needs with quality natural and organic foods, Mackey has also focused on building a more conscious way of doing business.

A strong believer in free market principles, he co-founded the Conscious Capitalism Movement and co-authored a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling book entitled Conscious Capitalism, Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business to boldly defend and re-imagine capitalism and encourage a way of doing business that is grounded in ethical principles.

Mackey cut his pay to $1 in 2006 and continues to work for Whole Foods Market out of a passion to see the business realize its potential for deeper purpose, for the joy of leading a great company, and to answer the call to service he feels in his heart.

Michael McGuffin

Michael McGuffin has served as president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) since 1999, leading the association in its mission to promote the responsible and sustainable commerce of herbal products to ensure that consumers have informed access to a wide variety of safe herbal goods.

He also serves on the boards of directors of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and United Plant Savers, and on the advisory boards of the USC School of Pharmacy Regulatory Science Master’s Degree Program and the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmers Coalition.

An industry veteran, McGuffin has been active in the herbal community since 1974 and has taken the lead on legislative matters and regulatory advocacy that have shaped the herbal and natural products industry over the last several decades.

Michael Murray, ND

Michael T. Murray, ND, is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine. Murray is a graduate and a former member of the faculty, Board of Trustees, and Board of Regents of Bastyr University. He is co-author of A Textbook of Natural Medicine, the definitive textbook on naturopathic medicine for physicians, as well as the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.

Since 1985, Murray has been instrumental in bringing many safe and effective natural products to North America, including: glucosamine sulfate, Ginkgo biloba extract, saw palmetto berry extract, PGX, St. John’s wort extract, enteric-coated peppermint oil, PharmaGAMA and phytosomes.

For more than 40 years, Murray has been compiling a massive database of original scientific studies from medical literature. He has personally collected more than 70,000 articles from scientific literature which provide strong evidence on the effectiveness of diet, vitamins, minerals, herbs and other natural measures in the maintenance of health and the treatment of disease. It is from this constantly expanding database that Murray provides the answers on health and healing.

In addition to his books, which have cumulative sales of more than six million copies, Murray has written numerous articles for major publications, appeared on hundreds of radio and TV programs, and lectured to hundreds of thousands of people nationwide.

Richard Passwater, PhD

During his extensive career, Richard Passwater served as: a civilian scientist with the Air Force’s Project Papa Bear to ensure the purity of liquid nitrogen for the Centaur rocket; the director, Research Analytics Laboratories at Allied Chemical Corporation; the director, Applications Research Laboratory at Baxter-Travenol Laboratories; vice president of research for the American Gerontological Research Laboratories Division of Life Science Labs; and vice president of research and development for Solgar Vitamin & Herb Company.

He wrote more than 45 books and 600 articles and participated in more than 7,000 radio shows.

A pioneer in the natural products industry, Passwater was twice honored by the Committee for World Health (1978 and 1980), received the nutrition industry’s Achievement Award (1989), National Nutrition Foods Association’s Presidents Award (1999), James Lind Scientific Achievement Award (2004), John Peter Zenger Free Press Award for writing (2004), and was inducted into the International Society of Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame (2021).

He also was voted Citizen of the Year by his community (Ocean Pines, MD, 1987), and was inducted into the Delmarva Firefighter’s Hall of Fame (1993) after serving 25 years as a volunteer EMT and firefighter including 10 years as chief of the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department (OPVFD).

Passwater received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Delaware in 1959, and his PhD in biochemistry from Bernadean University of Nevada in 1975. He was certified by the American Chemical Society in 1959 and in 1984 was elected “Fellow” of the American Institute of Chemistry.

Passwater died in 2022.

Linus Pauling, PhD, FRS

As to Dr. Linus Pauling’s involvement with human physiology and health, he initially applied techniques used in earlier diffraction studies of biological compounds to understand the structure of proteins.

In 1934, he investigated the magnetic properties of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells. He then studied the roles of antigens and antibodies in the immune response.

In 1940, Pauling made the novel proposal that this specificity is achieved through molecular complementariness, which he regarded as the secret of life. The concept was tested in his laboratory over the next 10 years by means of numerous serological experiments, yielding results published in no less than 34 scientific papers.

In 1946, he postulated that the gene might consist of two mutually complementary strands—a concept anticipating Watson and Crick’s discovery of DNA structure seven years later.

Fascinated with the multifaceted role of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in maintaining health, he began combing the scientific and medical literature for experimental and clinical evidence as to its importance.

Pauling became convinced of the value of vitamin C in large doses as a prophylactic or palliative for the common cold.

In 1970 he wrote the book Vitamin C and the Common Cold, which became a bestseller and brought wide public attention to this nutrient. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962.

He died in 1994.

Elwood Richard

Elwood Richard’s introduction to natural foods began nearly 20 years before he founded NOW Foods when his father, Paul Richard, bought Fearn Soya and developed the industry’s first protein supplement product.

In 1960, armed with a BS degree in chemistry and graduate studies in physical chemistry and biochemistry, Richard stepped in to run Fearn after his father’s death, with help from his brothers Bill and Lou.

In 1962, Richard opened his first natural health food store, the Health House and today the suburban Chicago retail chain, renamed The Fruitful Yield, operates 13 stores.

In 1968 Richard founded NOW Foods. His brother Lou would later join the company full time, and he and Richard worked together to start the NNFA (NPA) Standards Committee.

Richard led NOW through decades of growth, expanding product lines and manufacturing facilities, yet never wavered from his original belief that good health should be available to everyone, not just the affluent.

When Richard retired as CEO in 2005, succeeded by long-time NOW employee Al Powers, he stayed very much involved in the business and the industry.

“He will always be remembered for his love, generosity, and kindness that touched the lives of everyone at NOW,” said Powers. “He was the heart and soul of NOW Foods.”

Richard was honored by the industry he served for so many decades with numerous awards, including induction into the NPA Lifetime Achievement Award, the NNFA Crusader Award, and most recently the AHPA Visionary Award.

Richard died in 2017.

Alex Schauss, PhD, CFS, FACN

For more than 40 years, Alex Schauss has been CEO of AIBMR Life Sciences, the nation’s leading independent third-party scientific and regulatory agency, with staff nationwide.

He received the Linus Pauling Lecture Award for “contributions in the medical sciences” in 2005 from the American College for the Advancement of Medicine and, in 1985, addressed a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Nutrition of the British Parliament after receiving the McCarrison Lecture Award at Oxford University.

He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of New Mexico, and his doctorate in psychology from California Coast University, where he studied the effects of nutrients on brain function and human behavior and the role of zinc supplementation in the treatment of disordered eating.

Schauss is a prolific research scientist, having authored more than 250 publications, including 23 books and 42 chapters, in the fields of food science, nutrition, botanical medicine, ethnobotany and dietary supplements.

In 1994, he was acknowledged by the U.S. Senate’s and House of Representatives’ primary sponsors and leadership for the pivotal role he played in lobbying for passage of the Dietary Supplement and Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) into law.

Schauss is a trustee of the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum and its Science and Conservation Council. Each week he volunteers in the Restoration and Invasive Plant Program of the U.S. National Park Service at Saguaro National Park in Tucson.

Jim Turner, JD

James S. (“Jim”) Turner was well-known in the industry for the advocacy role he played as the chairman of Citizens for Health, a nonprofit organization which represented the interests of health and wellness consumers and the industry in a variety of regulatory matters concerning foods, drugs, health, environmental issues and product safety.

Among other key issues, the organization focuses on advocating for organic foods free of pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms), the removal of toxic chemicals from bottles, cans, and children’s toys, expanding access to dietary supplements, acupuncture, naturopathy and more.

Turner also served as special counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Food, Nutrition, and Health, and to the Senate Government Operations Subcommittee on Government Research.

As an author, he published The Chemical Feast at the age of 30, which called attention to the FDA’s handling and regulation of food additives. The book relied upon investigations and raids conducted by Ralph Nader’s Study Groups of 1969 under Turner’s direction, which made public the agency’s workings.

From 1994 to 1996, Turner was the lead attorney in a successful petition to FDA to have acupuncture needles reclassified to allow their importation and use by acupuncturists.

For more than 15 years, he was focused on advocating for political unity, with books such as Voice of the People: The Transpartisan Imperative in American Life, which he co-authored in 2008 as a call to addressing the shared interests of American citizens.

Turner died in 2022.

Robert Ullman, JD

Robert Ullman is legendary in the natural products industry for defending it in the courtroom and in Congressional hearings over the course of more than 45 years. For instance, he defended the industry in the landmark vitamins A and D case, where FDA attempted to categorize high-dose vitamins as drugs.

One of his most memorable cases involved defending Metagenics in the mid-1990s against FTC, which believed that the company did not have enough evidence to claim that calcium builds strong bones. In an interview with Suzanne Shelton, Ullman stated, “The case was pivotal in my view in that it demonstrated that if the government is wrong, you can prevail; you don’t have to cave.”

Another noteworthy case involved black currant oil (Traco and Oakmont Black Currant oil cases), when FDA claimed N-N Dimethylglycine was an unapproved food additive and, in another proceeding, tried to claim that an empty gelatin capsule was the food and the black currant oil was the additive.

After taking a swig from a bottle of olive oil in the courtroom before a witness, Ullman said “He conceded that it was a food, and I nailed my point: a food is a food regardless of how it is packaged, whether in bottles or capsules, or whatever.” Senator Orrin Hatch used this case as justification for his introduction of DSHEA.

“My father literally dedicated his life to defending this industry and inspired us all by the passion he brought to defending his clients and the industry,” said son and partner, Marc Ullman.

Ullman died in 2015.

Julian Whitaker, MD

Dr. Julian Whitaker graduated from Dartmouth College and went on to earn his MD from Emory University. He completed his surgical internship at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. In 1974, along with four other doctors and two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, Whitaker founded the California Orthomolecular Medical Society.

He founded the Whitaker Wellness Institute (1979–2019) where he helped more than 45,000 patients improve their quality of life by providing them with the knowledge and tools that engender health and wellness.

Whitaker is widely known for helping people naturally achieve and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. He has written top-selling books and given countless lectures on blood sugar health, which is affecting our country in epidemic proportions.

When in practice, he routinely helped those with pain, cardiovascular concerns, and a wide range of age-related health problems, live healthier, happier lives.

Whitaker is an avid supporter and advocate of freedom of choice in medical care, including the right to use nutritional supplements and other natural therapies.

Although no longer active, he was the founder of the nonprofit organization, Freedom of Health Foundation, which was on the advocacy forefront, fighting and winning numerous battles to protect our freedoms.

Jonathan Wright, MD

A Harvard University and University of Michigan graduate, Dr. Jonathan V. Wright is a forerunner in research and application of natural treatments for healthy aging and illness.

In 1982, Wright was the first in these United States to write comprehensive bio-identical hormone program prescriptions for estrogens, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone and often thyroid hormones. Recognized as the “Father of Bio-identical Hormone Therapy,” Wright is a popular speaker, teaching the use and laboratory monitoring of bio-identical hormones for women and men at seminars each year.

In addition to bio-identical hormone research and development, he also originated successful natural treatment for elimination of childhood asthma, developed treatment to stop vision loss or improve vision in the majority of individuals with “dry” macular degeneration, was the first to use aldosterone to reverse age-related hearing loss in humans, discovered the effect of iodine on estrogen metabolism and cobalt on steroid detoxification, popularized the use of D-mannose treatment for E. coli urinary tract infection, developed effective natural treatment for seborrheic dermatitis, allergic and viral conjunctivitis, and Osgood-Schlatter’s disease.

In 2013, he resurrected forgotten research and treatment protocols for the use of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) to treat severe neurological problems.

Internationally known for his books and medical articles, Wright has authored or co-authored 13 books, selling more than 1.5 million copies, with two texts achieving bestseller status: Book of Nutritional Therapy and Guide to Healing with Nutrition. He authors a monthly newsletter emphasizing nutritional medicine that reaches over 118,000 in the USA, and another 15,000 or more worldwide.

Janet Zand, OMD, L.Ac.

Janet Zand, O.M.D., L.Ac., is a board-certified acupuncturist, a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, author, lecturer, natural health practitioner and herbal and nutraceutical products formulator who has helped thousands of people achieve better health.

Zand is a thought leader and respected expert in the world of collaborative natural medicine who served as the co-founder and chairman of the board of Zand Herbal Formulas/Zand Immunity, the first nutraceutical company in the United States to popularize the combination of Eastern and Western herbs. She has formulated over 200 nutraceutical products.

In 2013, she was the lead researcher for the first human study using a unique natural supplement to naturally promote nitric oxide. Nominated as board chair for the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in 2023, Zand previously edited the monthly newsletter Women’s Health Letter, one of the nation’s most respected female health advisories.

In! Magazine describes Zand as “Hollywood’s Best Kept Health Secret” because of her “A” list clientele of movie stars, rock stars and professional athletes.

She is also the co-author of four books on natural health and healing, including The Nitric Oxide Solution, A Parent’s Guide to Medical Emergencies, Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child and Smart Medicine for Healthier Living.

Zand has been featured by Elle, Allure, the Los Angeles Times, Lifetime TV, and the BBC.

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