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Ric Scalzo

Institute for Botanical Research

Located in Tempe, Arizona, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences is honored to be home to the Ric Scalzo Institute for Botanical Research. In collaboration with the natural products industry and other academic institutions, this state-of-the-art molecular biology/phytochemistry laboratory is dedicated to developing new products and improving existing botanical therapeutics through scientific exploration grounded in clinical herbalism’s rich tradition.

By exploring the role of plants as medicines, researchers at the Ric Scalzo Institute seek to improve therapies for global health concerns including viral diseases, antibiotic resistant bacteria, fungal infections, immune disorders and cancer. In collaboration with the advanced facilities of affiliated institutions, faculty and students at SCNM have the resources to conduct cellular and molecular biology laboratory-based research activities and botanical constituent isolation and identification that can be further translated into clinical trials at SCNM and with partner institutions.

Dr. Jeffrey Langland, PhD, Research Department Chair and Research Director, has been overseeing multiple studies on the benefits of botanicals for many years leading to many advances in natural healing.

As one of North America’s most respected herbalists and botanical researchers, Richard “Ric” Scalzo has more than 35 years of clinical and practical experience with herbal medicines. As an innovator and pioneer in the herbal products industry, he is a leading authority on the cultivation of herbs, extraction processes, whole plant standardization, and traditional herbal therapies. In addition, Ric is a lifelong student of Vedic philosophy and spiritual practices.

After studying herbal medicine at the School of Natural Healing under Dr. John Christopher, Ric practiced as a clinical herbalist in a New England medical center.

In 1987, he founded Gaia Herbs, a nationally-branded grower and manufacturer of herbal wellness solutions that reinforce the inherent connections between healthy bodies, communities, and ecosystems. He and his team of herbalists and researchers grew the company into a vertically integrated, organic seed to finished botanical dietary supplement manufacturer and farming operation.  Under his leadership and vision, the company set industry standards for its organic commitment, sustainable methods, educational curriculum, and quality assurance program.

In 2019, Ric made a philanthropic donation to SCNM  for the development of the Ric Scalzo Institute for Botanical Research, a state-of-the-art molecular biology/phytochemistry laboratory.

Ric is now focusing his efforts on Biodynamic and Organic Herb Cultivation in Valle Encantado Costa Rica on his farm called CR Medicinal Farms. He is also offering his years of knowledge and guidance on the direction of research at the Institute in his name in hopes of understanding how traditional plant medicines operate on a cellular level in order to create novel botanical solutions that support people, planet, and plants.

Ric Scalzo holds an honorary Doctorate in Naturopathy from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona, and received a Master Herbalist degree in 1982 from the School of Natural Healing.

The mission of the Ric Scalzo Institute for Botanical Research is to advance 21st century botanical medicine through scientific exploration grounded in clinical herbalism’s rich tradition. The Institute’s analytical, metabolomic and bioassay laboratories will optimize the extraction and processing of botanicals and their subsequent formulations by using current botanical drug discovery methods guided by the rich traditions from which these plants originate. The research will be done in collaboration with leading companies in the natural products industry and other academic institutions to develop new products and improve existing botanical therapeutics.

The Institute will focus on the development of new antimicrobial therapies so critical in this age of novel viruses and antibiotic resistance, Cannabis sativa therapies, FDA-approved botanical drug products and more.

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