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American Botanical Council Launches First Online Training and Certification Course for Herb Retailers and Health Practitioners

January 23, 2004For Immediate ReleaseContact: Gayle Engels, Education CoordinatorAmerican Botanical CouncilPhone: 512-926-4900, ext.114Email:

AUSTIN, Texas - The American Botanical Council (ABC) announced the launch of the "ABC Herbal Information Course" at The training and certification program is designed for retailers, those who sell herbal products, and those who advise patients. Based on the ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs (©2003 American Botanical Council), the program covers many aspects of the herb trade including history, regulation, trends, science, and details on 29 commonly-used herbs.

"Retailers and those who provide information on herbs will gain key knowledge that will set them apart as qualified providers of credible information," said Wayne Silverman, PhD, Chief Administrative Officer of ABC. "We think this program will raise the level of professionalism of those who advise people on the use of herbal products."

The program consists of two modules, each concluding with a multiple choice test. Upon completion of both modules, the participant is certified as an ABC Herbal Information Specialist (HIS). Retail operations that participate in the program receive certificates for each employee completing the program, a window decal stating that an ABC-certified Herbal Information Specialist is on staff, and a formatted press release to distribute. Health practitioners can use the program as an additional certification to their own.

"In addition to ensuring that people provide high-quality information to consumers and patients, this program is also designed to help businesses and health practices establish credibility and build customer confidence and loyalty," said Mark Blumenthal, ABC Founder and Executive Director.

Part One of the program provides a basic working knowledge of topics critical to herbal medicine and effective, legal communications with customers. Upon completion of Part One, participants will be able to:

  • Interpret information on product labels and demonstrate to customers how to interpret the information provided
  • Distinguish between the types of claims and explain the use of structure/function claims on herbal products
  • Evaluate clinical research and explain how to apply this information in an appropriate manner for consumers
  • Explain basic concepts of standardization, safety and regulation for herbs
  • Guide consumers in finding further information on herbal medicine
  • Evaluate the clinical research conducted on herbs in order to be able to articulate what is stated in this literature
  • State the differences among the terms: “Primary Uses,” “Other Potential Uses,” and “Indications for Use”
  • Evaluate the information contained in each monograph to provide general information to consumers about the herbs studied

Part Two is available to participants after successful completion of Part One and focuses on science-based information on 29 common herbs. For each herb, participants learn about the history, primary uses, pharmacological actions, dosage, adverse effects and clinical evidence. This module enables the participant to provide customers or patients with accurate information about specific herbs within the parameters learned in Part One.

Once certified, participants also have complimentary access to one-page monographs on each of the herbs addressed in the course. These highly credible Herbal Information Sheets can be copied and distributed to customers as third-party literature or to patients in a clinical practice.

The ABC Herbal Information Course was developed over the past year following the release of the ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs, which is accredited for continuing education units for physicians, nurses, pharmacists and dieticians.

The online course was adapted from the book and is provided online by ABC in conjunction with the National Training Institute (NTI), a division of Virgo Publishing that develops and provides online training and certification programs in a variety of industries.

The American Botanical Council is the leading nonprofit education and research organization disseminating science-based information promoting the safe and effective use of medicinal plants and phytomedicines. Founded in 1988, ABC works to educate the public, healthcare practitioners, media, and government agencies on the safe and effective use of medicinal plants and phytomedicines.

Virgo Publishing produces the trade magazines HSR: Health Supplement Retailer and Natural Products Industry Insider, as well as the SupplySide East, SupplySide West and Focus on the Future trade shows and conferences.