- Disseminate factual, accurate information on herbs and herbal research
- Increase public awareness and professional knowledge of the historical role and current potential of plants in medicine
- Contribute information to professional and scientific literature that helps establish accurate, credible toxicological and pharmacological data on various types of plants and plant materials
- Promote understanding regarding the importance of preserving native plant populations in temperate and tropical zones
- Provide reprints of plant-related articles, audio/video tapes, and other educational materials
- Assist the Herb Research Foundation in achieving its goals
The highly acclaimed four-color journal of the American Botanical Council (ABC) and the Herb Research Foundation (HRF). The publication has received wide acknowledgment for its accuracy, credibility, scope of subject matter, and beauty. The editorial content includes feature-length articles, research reviews, conference reports, and book reviews. To help ensure accuracy of its contents. Herbal Gram is reviewed prior to publication by members of the Professional Advisory Board of the HRF. This board consists of some of the leading authorities in medicinal plant research. ABC makes HerbalGram available to journalists, editors, and free-lance writers for scientific, medical, and garden publications. Estimated readership at the end of 1992 was over 39,000.
Consumers are at a distinct disadvantage when buying herbal products. There are not adequate usage directions on labels for a condition or ailment. As long as herbs are sold as "foods" and prohibited from being properly labeled as to their health and therapeutic benefits, the consumers' best interests will not be served.
The U.S. is lagging further behind in developing a rational regulatory policy for medicinal herbs, considering the increases in government acceptance of phytomedicines in Europe, and traditional medicines by the Canadian Ministry of Health. ABC is working with scientists and other influential leaders to encourage change at the Food & Drug Administration level -- a change that will reflect a more rational, scientific approach to the labeling and regulation of safe, low-cost natural products such as herbs.
ORIGINAL MONOGRAPHS & ARTICLES
The ABC has agreements with several experienced botanists/writers to produce books, articles, and booklets for general distribution to consumers, publications, writers, editors, health professionals, and organizations. Materials already published include a series of literature reviews by Christopher Hobbs Her on medicinal herbs.
CLASSIC BOTANICAL REPRINTS
A series of articles containing information on ethnomedical and cultural uses of medicinal plants reprinted from technical and academic journals, many of which are out of print or difficult to obtain. The articles in this series are written by noted authorities in the fields and published primarily in peer-reviewed scientific journals, books, and some popular publications. ABC makes these articles available to the public to stimulate awareness of the rational and scientific basis for the role of herbs in modern public health care. The Classic Reprints are being sent to journalists, editors, teachers, students, health professionals, public policy makers, herbalists, and the lay public. Currently, there are three volumes containing 36 articles.
GINSENG EVALUATION PROGRAM
Products marketed in capsule, tablet, liquid, or tea form purport to contain a certain species of ginseng. Consumers purchase such products, in part, because it is that particular species of ginseng that they wish to consume. Thus, to serve the public interest and increase consumer confidence, ABC is currently engaged in a comprehensive review of commercial ginseng products prompted by concern over possible mislabeling and adulteration. We realize it is essential that manufacturers and distributors of these products are fairly treated in the evaluation; therefore, we have taken steps to assure that testing is done objectively. ABC has developed technical protocols with two university laboratories for the scientific analysis and identification of the commercial products. An estimated 300 products will be tested. All will be purchased at retail from health food stores, grocery stores, drug stores, mail order, and multilevel marketing distribution. The results of the tests will be published in HerbalGram.
RADIO NEWS EDUCATION PROGRAM
Since December 1989, the ABC has engaged in an educational program with appearances on over 200 radio talk shows. Topics discussed include: the uses and sales of medicinal herbs in the U.S.; the economic and legal factors that prohibit accurate and proper labeling of herbal products; questions often asked by consumers (e.g., safety and efficacy of herbs); the need for new regulations regarding herbs: latest research updates; and the need for preservation of native plant habitats. ABC has reached an estimated radio audience of 3.5 to 5 million listeners.
These eight-page booklets, with beautiful reproductions of each plant, provide concise, authoritative, and accurate information on twelve major medicinal plants. Written by botanist/author Steven Foster, this series is an ideal resource for consumers, retail outlets, pharmacists, nurses, nutritionists, teachers, researchers, and writers. These booklets are available from ABC, from health food stores, or can be purchased in bulk by any company or organization for further distribution. Titles include: Echinacea, Garlic, Milk Thistle, Ginkgo, Goldenseal, American Ginseng, Asian Ginseng, Siberian Ginseng (each ginseng treated separately in its own booklet), Valerian, and Feverfew. Titles in progress include: Passionflower, Ephedra, Aloe Vera, Reishi mushroom, Ginger, and other popular herbs.
ASSISTANCE TO WRITERS, JOURNALISTS, AND EDITORS
A vital part of ABC is its increasingly important role as a source of herbal information for writers, publications, and the media. In the past four years, ABC and HRF, have established themselves as the leaders in this area of the "information age." Through publications like HerbalGram, the Botanical Booklet Series, and Classic Reprints, ABC has developed a strong reputation for reliability.
Publications which ABC has assisted in developing herb articles, include Longevity, Reader's Digest, Vogue, Newsweek, American Health, and In Health. ABC has also been active in providing articles for the health retail and trade press, including Natural Foods Merchandiser, Delicious!, Health Food Business, Let Live, Whole Foods, Vegetarian Times, and Natural Health plus magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Elle. ABC also provides interviews and materials for newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Houston Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times, Philadelphia Enquirer, Boston Globe, Austin-American Statesman, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Associated Press and many others.
GERMAN COMMISSION E MONOGRAPHS
ABC has begun the translation and publication of the English version of the German Commission E Monographs, the most comprehensive and accurate information available worldwide on the safety and efficacy of herbs and phytomedicines. Commission E is an expert committee on herbal remedies established by the Bundesgesundheitsamt (German Federal Health Agency). Composed of physicians, pharmacists, pharma-cognosists, pharmacologists, toxicologists, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, and lay persons, this committee actively evaluates herbal remedies with the use of information obtained from various sources, rather than reviewing only data supplied by the manufacturer (as is the case with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration). Once Commission E has completed its evaluation, a monograph is published in the Bundesanzeiger (Federal Gazette). Monographs normally include nomenclature, part used, constituents, range of application, contraindications, side effects, interactions wi th other medications, dosage, use and action of the herb. Over 300 monographs have been published as of this writing. ABC's publication of the English translation will include a foreword by Professor Varro E. Tyler of Purdue University, a leading proponent of the Commission E model.
NATIVE AMERICAN MEDICINAL PLANT NOTECARDS
This series of twelve four-color notecards with photographs and text by Steven Foster offers a brief description of the most common Native American medicinal plants, their habitat and uses. The cards were published to introduce the history and benefits of herbal medicine to the widest audience possible.
ABC makes available to the public proceedings from herb related conferences. One such offering is "Progress on Terrestrial and Marine Natural Products of Medicinal and Biological Interest," in honor of the 60th birthday of Professor Norman R. Farnsworth. Soon to be released are the proceedings from the Sixth International Congress of Traditional and Folk Medicine and other conferences.
ABC, in association with International Expeditions, Inc., and the Texas Pharmacy Foundation, hosts ethnobotanical ecotours to places such as the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. These tours are hands-on classrooms for plant sources of medicines and health agents. Not only are these tours eye-openers for the public, but they also provide continuing education credit for pharmacists. Some of the tour and workshop leaders include: Dr. James A. Duke, author and ethnobotanist at USDA; Dr. Varro E. Tyler, author and Lilly Distinguished Professor of Pharmacognosy at Purdue University: Dr. Walter Lewis and Dr. Memory Elvin-Lewis, coauthors of Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man's Health; and Mark Blumenthal, Executive Director of ABC.
ABC has created its bookstore in response to the growing interest in scientifically based, difficult-to-find medicinal plant books that have been reviewed in HerbalGram or are recommended by ABC. Currently, there are over 50 books available with more being added with each publication of HerbalGram. Topics covered include: pharmacognosy, pharmacopoeia and herbal compendia, botany, phytochemicals, Chinese, Pacific, Thai, and Amazonian herbals, general herbals, and many more.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR BOTANY GRADUATE STUDENTS
ABC assists those who wish to further their education in the field of botany, ethnobotany, and plant research. This help may come in the form of financial aid or internships.
The American Botanical Council is undertaking a massive project to get herbal education in the hands of the general public. ABC will be distributing thousands of brochures to retail stores across the country. Clientele of these establishments will be able to take home information regarding the uses and benefits of herbal products for many health conditions.
Article copyright American Botanical Council.