a vision to synergize the efforts of scientific data seekers and providers

Imagine walking a pleasant nature path and coming upon a pretty plant that you don't know. So what is it? How would you find out? Is it edible or poisonous?

Now imagine whipping out your smartphone ap or laptop program to enter the visible characteristics that you can see (in ordinary non-botanical language) and up pops some of the possibilities that you can narrow down. Wouldn't that be great!? Can you contribute your botanical or database expertise to help bring this into reality for people to become more familiar with nature?

There has been a veritable explosion of scientific data about medicinal plants getting published in recent years. This is on top of the tremendous amounts of information about plants that has already been scattered about among a dozen disciplines (pharmacology, botany, anthropology, nutrition, organic chemistry, agriculture, etc). The information is so scattered about as to make it difficult to retrieve. It used to be running around looking things up in dozens of books and journals to put together the information pieces. It seemed like the internet would help solve this problem of information spread but now it's a lot of URL addresses instead of a lot of books. Each resource has its own confusing search interface and its own limits.

This situation is something like what protein and gene chemists faced a couple decades ago and they have benefited greatly from the grand unified PDB and Genbank data depositories that were established then. The field of herbal phytopharmacognosy can likewise benefit by establishing a web depository database of data.

Everyone benefits!

using common formats for chemical structures, common data fields for biological effects, identifying each submitter and the journal reference the data was published in, benefits everyone:

clinicians worried about herb-drug interactions

research chemists seeking new compounds

consumers trying to figure out the truth from marketing.

1995-2008 Soaring Bear; your comments & corrections are welcome