Herbal Apps for the iPhone® and iPod Touch®
These days there seems to be an iPhone® and iPod Touch® application, or “app,” for just about everything—and herbal information is no exception. More than 100 herb-related apps are now available to consumers, including Herbs+, Herb Garden, Herbs & Spices, iPlant, Natural Cures, and Qpalm Herb.
iPlant's entry for Calendula (Calendula officinalis). Photo ©2010 Jeff Lundgren
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, medical director of the National Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, began the free Natural Cures iPhone app in November 2008. He co-wrote the app’s content with his wife Laurie Teitelbaum, a nutritionist, Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET) practitioner, and—as he described her—an “avid iPhoner.”
“It was my wife’s idea,” said Dr. Teitelbaum (e-mail, January 31, 2010). “The goal is to make straightforward information available to the public in easy-to-understand language, and documented in the scientific literature. We accept no advertising and no money from pharmaceutical companies or natural product companies, to keep the information objective and very credible. We decided to make it free, as part of our goal of empowering the public with information.”
As of January 2010, the app had been downloaded by approximately 750,000 people, according to Dr. Teitelbaum, and Natural Cures is regularly ranked among the top 25 free apps within the Health and Fitness category—often in the top 10.
The app notes herbal, nutritional, lifestyle, and other treatments for common health conditions, mainly found under an A-Z listing of those conditions. Some of the herbal recommendations include passionflower (Passiflora incarnata, Passifloraceae) and magnolia (Magnolia officinalis, Magnoliaceae) for anxiety; licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra, Fabaceae) for adrenal exhaustion; and willow (Salix alba, Salicaceae), frankincense (Boswellia serrata, Burseraceae), and cherry (Prunus avium, Rosaceae) for arthritis. Dr. Teitelbaum plans to add a section containing information on his favorite 10 to 15 herbs soon. Natural Cures information is available free online at www.Vitality101.com for those without an iPhone or iPod Touch.1
Jeff Lundgren of Lundgren Consulting LLC., who specializes in software and Internet development, has had a personal interest in the outdoors and survivalist techniques for many years. This led him to develop iPlant, a $1.99 app that includes information on more than 300 commonly used herbs and plants, including their Latin and common names, history, culinary uses, medicinal properties and uses, and safety warnings.
“I’ve used herbs and plants in a personal capacity for years as an alternative and supplement to modern medicine,” said Lundgren (e-mail, February 5, 2010). “The goal of the application was to share the love I have for herbs and plants with others via technology that I also enjoy using and developing.”
The information found in iPlant has been collected from a variety of sources, including content provided personally from Lundgren’s research.
According to Lundgren, iPlant has been downloaded thousands of times in the last year since its release for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Based on feedback, he believes that the app is primarily popular among laypersons and plant enthusiasts, not necessarily plant professionals.
The $2.99 Herbs & Spices app was created by software developer Ganesh Thambiran at BuzzLifeApps. With a degree in biology and a high interest in botany, Thambiran features 66 commonly used herbs and spices in his app, with each entry including such information as Latin and common names, health benefits, history, and traditional uses. The app mainly focuses on culinary herbs and is available in the following languages (in addition to English): Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, Italian, and German.
“I believe it’s important to know about herbs and spices since we use them in our food,” said Thambiran, adding that in addition to including more herbs and spices in the future, he also plans to eventually add more information on each herb, such as ORAC [Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity] values (e-mail, February 17, 2010).
Each listing appears beside a plant icon of the specific plant, while each individual entry includes a larger plant picture for easy identification. According to Thambiran, he took many of the herbal photos himself, while also outsourcing a few to photographers.
More information about this app is available at www.buzzlifeapps.com.
When choosing an herbal app, a useful resource is PC World’s App Guide (www.pcworld.com), which includes reviews about technological products, software, and downloads. Over 100 apps match the search criteria “herbs.”2 The iTunes App store also offers valuable information, including user ratings and reviews.
Editor’s Note: The information provided in this story is for educational purposes only and does not suggest that readers use applications as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. The American Botanical Council has not evaluated these products, nor does ABC endorse them or accept responsibility for the consequences of use or the content of these products.
—Kelly E. Lindner
- Conditions & Treatments page. Vitality 101 website. Available at: www.endfatigue.com/natural_cures/Conditions_and_treatments.html. Accessed February 10, 2010.
- App Guide page. PC World website. Available at: www.pcworld.com/appguide/index.html. Accessed February 10, 2010.