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Frequently Asked Questions about HRF


Q. I noticed that the American Botanical Council is now offering memberships, just like the Herb Research Foundation. If I become a member of ABC, do I still receive HRF benefits? If not, can you please tell me the difference between HRF and ABC? I thought they were somehow connected.

A. HRF co-founded and co-publishes the magazine HerbalGram with ABC and contributes content to the magazine, but we are an entirely separate organization. While both organizations aim to educate the public about herbs, HRF specializes in providing science-based information in a variety of formats from its vast specialty library of medicinal plant research, while ABC focuses on the publication of HerbalGram. ABC also has an excellent bookstore, available by catalog or online, where you can purchase many difficult-to-find titles on plants, herbal medicine, and ethnobotany.

HRF is the world's oldest and foremost source of accurate, science-based information on the health benefits and safety of medicinal plants. HRF has been educating the public, health care professionals, and the media about the herbs for almost 20 years. We remain committed to supporting the public's right to truthful information about the health benefits of herbs. What really sets our work apart from other organizations is our huge storehouse of information resources, including a specialty research library containing more than 300,000 scientific articles on thousands of herbs. Becoming a member of HRF is the only way to receive HRF membership benefits.

Q. Why should I support the Herb research Foundation? Why do you charge fees for all of your services? I thought HRF was a nonprofit charity organization.

A. HRF is a nonprofit organization that receives no public funding, but instead depends 100% on the support of our members. In other words, we receive no funding from the government or other donor organizations to provide services to the public. Even organizations that do receive public funding, like your local public library, must charge for research services and copies of articles. Although we do not receive public support the way a public library does, our charges are often lower than public or college libraries.

We are not a charity organization, but we are dedicated to educating the public about the safety and efficacy of medicinal plants. In order to continue with our work, we depend on the support of people like you who want truthful and accurate information on how herbs can support your health. HRF members receive a variety of valuable benefits available nowhere else. Please join us in improving world health through the informed use of herbs!

Q. I am wondering if HRF gives research grants or scholarships to those studying botanical medicines? Do you sponsor individuals who are working on current research projects and/or thesis papers?

A. HRF secures grants with various organizations to work on projects, including sustainable development and conservation projects in the U.S. and all over the world. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide scholarships or grants to individuals, but we do offer unpaid internships through which individuals can gain experience in this field and have access to our extensive library in exchange for time donated to the foundation. If you are interested in an internship, please send an email to

Q. I just want someone to recommend some herbs for my particular health condition.

A. HRF strongly believes in the public's right to have access to herb information that is unbiased, truthful, and not misleading. With that in mind, HRF provides herb information for educational purposes only. We are not medical practitioners or healthcare providers and cannot make recommendations regarding the use of herbs to treat your specific health conditions or ailments. But we can tell you what herbs have been researched for specific conditions.

This site was created in the spirit of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 in that the information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any health or disease conditions. We provide research-based herb information through a variety of sources, including our Herb Information Packet Series, the Natural Healthcare Hotline, our Ask the Experts page, and our interactive Bulletin Board. In answering questions, we note whether the information is science-based or based on traditional herb usage. Please be aware that individual responses to herbs and dosages may vary. If you have a serious health condition, please consult your health practitioner before self-treating with herbal remedies or products.

Q. Does HRF offer or sponsor classes, workshops, or seminars on botanical medicines?

A. Our president and founder, Rob McCaleb, lectures at conferences, symposia, and trade shows all over the world on a regular basis. Click here to view his calendar of speaking engagements. Our Director of Education, Mindy Green, also teaches and lectures at various schools and events. Other members of our staff, including Carrie Mayes, teach herb classes at the local community college.

Q. Does HRF sell herbs or herbal products? Where can I get them? I do not have a local health food store in or around my area.

A. As a botanical research library, we collect, compile, and disseminate published research studies on medicinal plants. We do not buy or sell products, nor do we conduct any kind of primary laboratory research. We provide a vast amount of resources here on our website, including a Resource List section, where you can view our Herb Source List of companies that sell herbs and herbal products.

Q. Can HRF recommend an alternative health care practitioner?

A. We are frequently asked this question, and therefore have assembled a list of Licensed Alternative Health Care Provider Associations that you can contact for referrals.

Q. I am trying to find research on a particular plant. Can HRF help me with this?

A. That is what we do here! Your question may be answered by one of our many Herb Information Packets. Otherwise, we also offer Custom Botanical Research Services and can provide abstracts or complete copies of scientific articles on thousands of herbs.

Q. I am wondering about the safety and interactions of herbs with other herbs and herbs with prescription medications?

A. We answer questions like this in a variety of ways. We have a packet of information on Herb Safety and Drug Interactions, as well as packets on individual herbs that discuss their uses, dosage, safety, and known contraindication/drug interactions. For immediate answers via phone, you can call our Natural Healthcare Hotline. For more in-depth scientific information, you may want to use our Custom Botanical Research Services.

Q. I need someone to tell me if the herbal product I have is good quality.

A. Because we strive to be an unbiased source of accurate scientific information on herbs, we do not provide information on specific herbal products. The wide variety of herbal products available can be confusing. It is a good idea to select a product from a company with which you are familiar or one that has been recommended by someone you know. You can also call the manufacturer of a specific product, and ask them about their manufacturing practices, how they ensure quality and where they purchase the herbs contained in their product. We do have an information packet available on Standardization of herbal products and one on the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) that addresses regulatory and labeling issues. There are also good discussions about quality in our book, The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs.

Q. If herbal products are really safe, why do I hear so much bad news about them?

A. Unfortunately, bad herb press is rampant. This is most often due to the fact that the media is relatively uninformed when it comes to accurate information about the safety of herbs. Here at HRF we do our best to dispel misinformation and provide accurate, scientifically validated information on botanical medicines. We make this information available through a variety of sources: on the News Pages of our website, by broadcasting press releases on the latest herb news, by answering questions from and providing interviews to members of the media, by contributing articles to various publications (including Herbs for Health, HerbalGram, and others) and through our members-only newsletter, Herb Research News.

Q. I was told that herbal products are not regulated. Is this true?

A. This is a common misconception about dietary supplements, a category of products that includes herbal medicines. We have a packet of information on DSHEA (the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994), which is full of information about legislative issues governing the labeling and sale of dietary supplements. You can also read articles about current regulatory issues online in our Political News section.

Q. My doctor says there is no scientific evidence that herbs are safe or effective, but I am really interested in natural alternatives to prescription medicines. Does HRF have any information that I can show my doctor?

A. Here we have another misconception about herbal medicines. There is a wealth of scientific information to support the safety and efficacy of many herbs. A great place to start is our Herb Information Packet series. We have packets available on over 200 herbs and health concerns. HRF also recently published a book, The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs, which offers a wealth of clinical information geared to both the public and health care practitioners. In addition, HRF offers Custom Botanical Research Services for those who need more in-depth scientific information on medicinal plants.


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