Richters HerbLetter

Date: 96/08/20
1. Shaman Pharmaceuticals’ Provir Demonstrates Initial Indication of Efficacy in Treating Diarrhea
2. Alternative Remedies Under Threat in Australia
3. Mint Oils May Save Honeybees
4. Chinese Province Develops Herbal Medicine

1. Shaman Pharmaceuticals’ Provir Demonstrates Initial Indication of Efficacy in Treating Diarrhea
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 20, 1996-- Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: SHMN) today announced that it has successfully treated 20 patients with travelers’ diarrhea in a Phase II, open label trial that was conducted by Dr. Herbert DuPont of the University of Texas at Houston and Baylor College of Medicine, a world recognized expert in travel medicine.

The trial included subjects who traveled to Mexico as exchange students from the University of Arizona and University of San Diego. 80% of the 20 patients treated with Provir returned to normal within 48 hours of treatment. Of those patients, no recurrance was experienced during a 72 hour post-treatment, follow-up period. The normal course of untreated travelers’ diarrhea is 5 to 7 days.

According to Dr. DuPont, "These results are what we would expect to have seen with an effective medication for travelers’ diarrhea. We saw good clinical response, the compound was safe in all cases, and was well tolerated. Our next step is to enroll an additional 48 patients in this study with 32 patients receiving a lower dose of Provir."

Lisa Conte, Shaman President and CEO stated, "Shaman completed this phase of the trial ahead of schedule and of course we are thrilled with the outcome. We will now complete this study and prepare to begin more rigorous trials to support our findings from this initial study."

Shaman Pharmaceuticals discovers and develops novel pharmaceutical products for major human diseases by isolating active compounds from tropical plants with a history of medicinal use. The Company has three compounds in development: Virend, a topical antiviral for the treatment of herpes; Provir, an oral product for the treatment of secretory diarrhea; and nikkomycin Z, an oral antifungal for the treatment of endemic mycoses.

The Company recently began Phase II testing on Provir, and plans to begin pivotal Phase III testing on Virend and Phase I testing on nikkomycin Z this year. Shaman’s diabetes research has resulted in the discovery of ten new compounds for the potential treatment of Type II diabetes, and forms the basis for a collaborative relationship with Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

[Virend and Provir are trademarks of Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc.]

2. Alternative Remedies Under Threat in Australia
By Andra Jackson, through AAP

MELBOURNE, Aug 19 AAP - Dietary supplements would soar in price and thousands of natural therapists could lose their livelihoods if a move to make vitamins, minerals and herbal remedies available only by prescription, was successful, a health group said today.

The Federation of Natural and Traditional Therapists (FNTT) said today prices of supplements were likely to inflate seven to nine times their present cost if an international proposal, to be decided in October, was adopted.

The proposal could also wipe out the livelihoods of thousands of natural therapists, federation spokesman and natural therapy consultant, Bob Grace said.

Mr Grace said one little publicised aspect of a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) treaty recently signed by Australia, was that it committed Australia to adopt international medical standards set by the United Nations/ World Health organisation’s Codex Commission.

This included a proposal to go before the commission in Europe in October that would ban the manufacture, transfer or selling of food supplements not obtained through a doctor’s prescription.

Speaking from Adelaide Mr Grace said although the proposal referred to Europe, under the GATT treaty it would also be binding on countries like Australia and the US.

He said it would cover dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals, herbs and amino acids which can presently be purchased off the shelf in chemists and supermarkets and which are widely used to ward off colds and infections.

"Six out of ten Australian families regularly buy some form of food supplement when they do their weekly shopping, our member associations are reporting," Mr Grace said.

He said vitamins and dietary supplements were preventative medicine and the popular feeling was that many people considered that they had no alternative.

"A doctors may give them antibiotics when they have a cold but that doesn’t stop them getting a germ or bacterial activity.

"Individual choice will come at a heavy price, and it will be difficult and costly for ordinary Australian consumers to continue to use dietary supplements," he said.

This was because large international pharmaceutical drug cartels would be able to take over the manufacture and supply of the supplements from smaller, natural medicine companies now producing them.

It would also made food management more difficult for the thousands of sufferers of coeliac disease in Australia who have a gluten intolerance which can be fatal unless they are kept on a strict dietary regime, Mr Grace said.

The livelihoods of most of the 17,000 natural therapists practising in Australia, including herbal medicine practioners, vitamin therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and Chinese herbal medicine practitioners would also likely be wiped out by the move, he said.

Only the 3,000 natural therapists who also performed massage, would survive, he said.

This was based on the experience of Norway where food supplements have already been removed from shop shelves and where pharmaceutical drug cartels took over supply.

Mr Grace, an advisor to the National Health Commission, said the federation was seeking an urgent meeting with Federal Health Michael Woolridge and Trade Minister Tim Fischer, who would attend the Codex meeting.

It would lobby them to oppose bringing supplements under medical prescription listing.

The UK also previously opposed the step, which is to be backed by trade sanctions against non-complying countries.

3. Mint Oils May Save Honeybees

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- The nation’s honeybees may be saved from mites by spearmint, wintergreen and peppermint.

The natural oils have proven to be more than a folk remedy in killing and controlling bloodsucking mites that have nearly wiped out wild honeybees, according to a West Virginia University entomologist.

"We’re close to eradication where we can knock them out totally," said James Amrine. "We’re going to continue working in that direction: total eradication."

The proof, Amrine says, is in 46 honeybee colonies treated about 60 miles east in Cumberland, Md., where applications of wintergreen have produced the healthiest honeybees in years.

"There is no doubt those bees are almost back to where they were before these mites came into this country," he said.

The mites, which entered the United States 12 years ago, have destroyed 90 percent of wild honeybees, researchers say.

And commercial and hobbyist beekeepers last spring reported average losses of 50 percent in 22 states surveyed by the Georgia-based American Beekeeping Federation, said Troy H. Fore Jr., executive secretary.

The harsh winter contributed to losses, especially in northern tier states like Maine, which reported 80 percent losses.

Herb Hanscom, a blueberry grower in Machias, Maine, said growers paid dearly to get their crops pollinated because beekeepers did not want to bring their remaining bees to Maine.

He and other growers were disappointed with the quality of bees that did make the trip.

"As near as we can tell, the hives did not have as many bees in them," Hansom said.

The disaster follows a continual weakening of honeybees since the mites appeared in the mid-1980s.

The original invader, the tiny tracheal mite, crawls into the breathing tubes of bees and lives off their blood. The varroa mite, the size of a small tick, attaches to bee adults and developing eggs and lives off their blood, weakening and killing them.

In Cumberland, Bob Noel stumbled upon his natural oils remedy when mites struck his colonies last year. He put wintergreen oil in a hamburger-patty-shaped mixture of shortening and sugar, then placed it in a hive.

"I said, `Well, they’re dying anyway.’ I came back a couple of days later and there were no mites on the bees. There were several thousand (dead) mites on the bottom of the hive," he said.

That inspired tests of natural oils like tea tree, pennyroyal, patchouly, spearmint and peppermint. Noel also plans to try lavender. He thinks most mint oils will work.

Amrine was skeptical, but he could not argue with the results. Noel’s honeybees are healthy and producing up to 150 pounds of honey for the season in each hive.

"Most of the beekeepers around the United States would be envious of his hives," Amrine said.

Research currently centers on the most effective way to apply the mint oils to the bees.

Amrine said one of Noel’s more effective methods consists of putting a greasy salve of wintergreen on a "tracking strip" that comes into contact with bees. And Noel is working on an advanced version that is constantly replenished by a feeder.

Another method involves a mixture of sugar water and mint oils the bees drink when flowers are not producing nectar. Then there are the so-called "grease patties," which are placed in hives.

Under the systems, the bees come into contact with the messy mixture and ingest it when they clean themselves. During winter months, they will consume the grease patties to get the sugar.

The mint kills and weakens varroa mites and renders them unable to reproduce, Amrine said. Tracheal mites get trapped in the oil and die because they cannot get into bees’ breathing tubes, he said.

Amrine is so confident in the preliminary findings he has posted the formulas on the Internet so beekeepers can begin using them.

Anita Collins, a research geneticist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s bee research lab in Beltsville, Md., said the research into natural oils is important because mites have developed resistance to the only pesticide available.

The oils, if effective, might be preferable to traditional chemical pesticides.

Meanwhile, scientists are continuing the lengthy process of developing mite-resistant bees. But Ms. Collins said she cannot blame beekeepers for tinkering with the mint oils in the interim.

"There’s a lot of them who have lost bees and they’re ready to try anything," she said. "The other choice is to lose their bees."

4. Chinese Province Develops Herbal Medicine
NANNING (June 18) XINHUA - Herbal medicines used to cure local ethnic people in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region now are available throughout the country.

Following a decade of efforts to develop traditional therapeutic methods, Guangxi has become one of the country’s leading herbal medicine production bases. Its neighboring provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan also practice herbal medical treatment.

The autonomous region can provide 30,000 tons herbal medicines annually to the whole country worth of 1.2 billion yuan-worth. And a group of books about unique therapeutic methods adopted by ethnic people has been published.

Just as China’s Han people have adopted herbs to treat diseases, ethnic minority groups in Guangxi, such as people of the Zhuang, Yao and Miao, have a long history of using herbal remedies. Researchers have discovered 4,620 types of herbs that have been used by folk doctors.

Medical research departments in Guangxi have collected more than 50,000 folk recipes and a number of hand-written copies, rare books and relics about illness treatment from locals.

The researchers have found nearly 5,000 well-known folk doctors with proven folk medicine skills across Guangxi. Many of them have been hired by local hospitals and health care institutes.

In Guangxi, ethnic doctors usually practice methods of treatment that include initial observation and pulse reading, followed by a prescription for herbal medicines.

In order to expand the influence of folk medicine, Guangxi has trained more than 5,000 people to further research and use these therapeutic methods.

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