The American Botanical Council (ABC), an Austin, Texas-based research and education organization, has obtained the rights to the popular herbal database HerbMed® and its enhanced professional version HerbMedPro™. ABC’s acquisition is intended to enhance the maintenance and further development of the databases, which are frequently used as a research tool by academic researchers, healthcare professionals, institutions, government agencies, industry, consumers, and others.
HerbMed is available free to the public (http://www.herbmed.org/) and HerbMedPro is accessible through subscription or licensing arrangements from ABC.
“HerbMedPro is one of the most useful and powerful herbal research tools on the Internet today,” said ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. “Acquiring the rights to HerbMedPro will help propel ABC’s nonprofit educational mission even further.”
“For several years ABC has offered HerbMedPro as a benefit of membership to all ABC members at the Academic level and higher, and we consistently receive high praise about the usefulness of this time-saving research tool,” Blumenthal continued. “ABC plans to integrate some of our unique educational content into HerbMedPro to benefit ABC members and ABC website users even more. ABC is deeply grateful and honored that the Alternative Medicine Foundation has chosen to convey its unique HerbMed and HerbMedPro databases to ABC for future stewardship and development.”
Jacqueline C. Wootton, MEd, president and executive director of the Alternative Medicine Foundation and founder of HerbMed, will retain her position as editorial director of both databases, while ABC will assume control of the administration, financing, and marketing of the database.
HerbMedPro is a continuously updated database of categorized information on herbs. There are currently 211 herbs in the database, searchable by both common name and Latin binomial. The information within the database is classified according to key categories and subcategories, allowing users to more easily find data relevant for their needs, and the information is as comprehensive and neutral as possible. HerbMedPro briefly summarizes virtually all publicly available research information on each herb and provides links to corresponding abstracts in PubMed, the US National Library of Medicine’s freely available interface for MEDLINE, or to other online research resources such as BioMed Central, Cochrane Collaboration Reviews, and World Health Organization monographs.
“We have been highly successful on a small budget, but we need a larger organization behind HerbMed to fully optimize all the features of the database,” said Wootton. “The goal was to partner with another organization with a similar mission.” Wootton explained that she chose ABC based on its common goals regarding herbal education and her own past experiences with the organization, which made her confident that the two nonprofits could develop a mutually beneficial, synergistic relationship. Wootton has been a member of the ABC Advisory Board since 2005, and ABC’s Blumenthal has been on the Alternative Medicine Foundation’s Advisory Board since 1999.
According to Wootton, the new arrangement with ABC will allow her to concentrate on expanding and developing the content of HerbMed. “It will have many more herbs,” said Wootton. “It will be more frequently updated. We shall create special collections of data on health issues (such as arthritis or diabetes), modalities (such as Ayurvedic or Native American medicine), or social demographic groupings (such as women or children). Because the database contains multiple fields of complex underlying data providing endless flexibility of use and searchability, there are just so many different ways to slice and dice this information and honor various herbal traditions and protect intellectual property rights.”
HerbMed was initiated in 1998, and the original website provides public access to information on approximately 30 of the most widely used medicinal herbs, as well as a pay-per-day option to access the entire larger HerbMedPro database. Wootton said she initially created the database to showcase the vast amount of herbal research data available. “I set out to counter the argument that there was no reliable research information about herbs,” she said. “I could also see the need for impartial and commercial-free presentation of the underpinning sources of primary data on herbs, which can be browsed in depth and on which medical and policy decisions can be based.”
HerbMedPro access will be available to ABC members at the Academic level and above (Academic memberships are $100 annually; $120 annually for members outside of the United States) as part of their ABC membership benefits. Additionally, HerbMedPro will be available on a pay-per-day basis, a new feature designed for journalists and researchers seeking information on specific herbs for academic papers and news stories.
About the American Botanical Council
Founded in 1988 the American Botanical Council is the leading nonprofit organization in the United States addressing research and educational issues regarding herbs and medicinal plants. ABC’s members include academic researchers and educators, universities and libraries, health professionals and medical institutions, botanical gardens and arboreta, government agencies, members of the herb, dietary supplement, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries, journalists, consumers, and other interested parties from over 70 countries. The organization occupies a historic 2.5-acre site in Austin, Texas, where it publishes HerbalGram, a peer-reviewed journal on herbal medicine; HerbalEGram, a monthly e-publication; HerbClip, a twice-monthly series of summaries and reviews of recent research; plus reference books for researchers and health professionals and other educational materials, including a guide to the identification of medicinal plants to be used by industry for quality control purposes. Information: Contact ABC at P.O. Box 144345, Austin, TX 78714-4345, Phone: 512-926-4900. Website: http://www.herbalgram.org/