The American Botanical Council (ABC), the nonprofit organization that produces HerbalGram, began a new fiscal year on November 1, 2005. The organization experienced many successes and some significant challenges during the past year. Please take the time to read this summary of the past year and our plans for the future. You may be surprised at how many educational programs ABC offers in addition to HerbalGram.
As you may know, ABC is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, member-supported research and education organization dedicated to promoting responsible use of herbal medicine—serving consumers, researchers, educators, healthcare professionals, industry, government agencies, and the media. HerbalGram is just one of the many publications, programs, and services ABC offers in pursuit of its mission, and one of the many benefits available to ABC members and to the general public. Thousands of members from more than 60 countries support ABC’s international efforts to improve the quality of natural healthcare worldwide.
Other benefits ABC provides to its members include:
•Science-based, peer-reviewed information on hundreds of herbs through ABC’s password-protected Web site, www.herbalgram.org;
•Free research sessions with ABC’s Education Department;
•Monthly updates from HerbalEGram, ABC’s e-newsletter;
•HerbClip, a twice-monthly publication of summaries and critical reviews of a wide range of articles from the scientific and related literature;
•A 50 iscount on ABC publications such as The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs; The Complete German Commission E Monographs; and Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs; and
•A 10 iscount on all other purchases from ABC’s Herbal Education Catalog.
ABC also offers a variety of educational programs and services for the general public, including:
•Free access to selected Web site content;
•Internship programs for pharmacy and dietician students;
•Consumer education programs such as Safety Assessment and electronic Content Licensing;
•Training and certification programs, such as the online Herbal Information Course for retail employees and multi-level marketing company distributors; and
•ABC’s ongoing Media Education Campaign.
Each of these programs and services is an important part of ABC’s educational work, and each requires a significant commitment of staff time and financial resources. ABC members, including individuals, small and large companies, libraries and educational institutions, healthcare organizations, and government agencies, provide critical financial support through annual membership. Nonetheless, ABC encountered some economic challenges and budgetary shortfalls during the 2005 fiscal year. Despite those challenges, ABC made significant progress in expanding its programs. Some of ABC’s recent achievements include:
•Herbal Body Care and Healthy Ingredients: 2 new online databases, available to all ABC members, offering information on a variety of ingredients used every day for healthcare, body care, and in cosmetic products.
>Herbal Body Care is a series of brief overviews of herbs commonly found in cosmetic or body care products. These overviews include the historical, traditional, modern, and medicinal uses of herbs. When completed the database will include 33 herbs.
>Healthy Ingredients, ABC’s newest online educational database, offers referenced profiles of plants and related materials used in dietary supplements and natural cosmetics. Among the features of this database is a section called “Future Outlook,” which provides information about sustainability and environmental issues surrounding the ingredient. At the time of this writing, ABC plans to expand the current offering from 51 to 130 overviews by the end of 2005. The database will continue to expand in the future.
•HerbalEGram, ABC’s electronic newsletter became a monthly publication in July 2005. A streamlined format replaces much of the text with links to many places on the Internet and in-depth articles on ABC’s Web site. HerbalEGram brings the latest news on herbal issues and provides a sneak preview at the upcoming issue of HerbalGram.
•ABC’s Herbal Information Course #2 launched at www.herbtraining.com. Since the debut of the original Herbal Information Course, hundreds of retail employees, distributors, and employees in other companies have been certified as Herbal Information Specialists by ABC. Course #1 launched last year and is a prerequisite to this renewal.
•Media Education. ABC attempts to clarify misinformation in the media about herbs and related dietary supplements and conducts proactive efforts to inform the public on herbal issues. As an example of ABC’s ongoing efforts in media education, ABC wrote an extensive press release and conducted numerous print and electronic interviews in response to a study in New England Journal of Medicine, which reported that Echinacea angustifolia root extracts were ineffective in the prevention and treatment of experimentally-induced upper respiratory tract infections. ABC was interviewed and cited in hundreds of news articles and was effective in responding to the incorrect conclusions that were rampant in the media. Because of the way the media reported the results of this trial, ABC emphatically promoted the message that the dosage used in the study was probably too low to produce a measurable effect, especially compared to officially accepted dosages in international monographs.
During the upcoming year, ABC plans to expand and update its online resources, add new internships for medical students, and expand its consumer education programs. Future plans also include redesigning ABC’s Web site to be more user-friendly and expanding marketing efforts. As the new fiscal year begins, ABC looks forward to the challenges ahead and to many more successes.