Richters HerbLetter

Date: 98/05/27
1. FDA Checks Ginseng Products for Possible Fungicide Contamination
2. PharmaPrint Says U.S. Ginseng Supply Batch Contaminated with Fungicide
3. Hauser Issues Statement on Ginseng Contamination
4. Warning Issued on Chinese Herbal Remedy
5. U.S. Survey Finds Alternative Medicine Users Come from All Backgrounds
6. Herbal Medicine Used to Treat Kidney Transplant Patients
7. Indians Turning to Tibetan Medicine
8. Overharvesting of Licorice Blamed for Dust Storms in China
9. Herb Business News

1. FDA Checks Ginseng Products for Possible Fungicide Contamination
WASHINGTON, May 22, AP -- Certain ginseng products are being checked by the government for possible fungicide contamination.

California-based PharmaPrint discovered residues of the fungicide quintozene in a ginseng batch it bought from a national supplier of the herbal product.

After an independent lab determined the fungicide was above levels allowed in certain foods, PharmaPrint alerted the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday and canceled its contract with supplier Hauser Chemical Research of Colorado.

PharmaPrint does not yet sell ginseng products; it bought the batch as part of its development of new dietary supplements.

But Hauser sells ginseng to a variety of companies, and the FDA contacted Hauser Wednesday to investigate whether any contaminated ginseng ultimately was sold to consumers.

Based on preliminary information, there "doesn’t appear to be enough contamination to present an acute risk," said FDA spokesman Arthur Whitmore. But "we are concerned about possible adverse effects of long-term, chronic-type exposure."

Hauser issued a statement Wednesday saying it had temporarily halted ginseng shipments. "We believe the levels of quintozene cited in the shipment in question are well below any reasonable risk levels," the statement added.

Quintozene is closely related to a fungicide well-known to cause liver damage when eaten in high quantities, said Hyman Zimmerman, a toxicologist at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. No one knows how much ginseng people ingest in dietary supplements and teas, but "it makes sense to say it (quintozene) shouldn’t be in there," he said.

2. PharmaPrint Says U.S. Ginseng Supply Batch Contaminated with Fungicide
IRVINE, Calif., May 20, PRNewswire -- PharmaPrint (Nasdaq: PPRT) today notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of its discovery of violative residues of the agricultural crop fungicide quintozene in a shipment of raw ginseng root to the Company from a domestic supplier. PharmaPrint is developing a new generation of standardized herbal products that are not yet available for sale.

Upon verification of the residues of quintozene, also called PCNB (pentachloronitrobenzene), PharmaPrint informed the ginseng supplier, Boulder, Colorado-based Hauser Chemical Research Inc. Hauser is one of several sources of ginseng for the American nutritional market defined by the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act. PharmaPrint said it is now receiving ginseng batches from other sources that show no PCNB contamination.

Although PharmaPrint rejected the affected ginseng, the Company notified FDA of its concern that the contamination with PCNB could affect a portion of other ginseng products that are currently available at retail. Ginseng is among the top five herbals available to consumers, in a $3 billion herbal products industry. Consumers with questions about herbal products they are taking should ask their doctor, pharmacist, nutrition expert, or other healthcare provider.

The presence of quintozene, a fungicide applied in the soil, ranged in levels from three (3) parts per million (PPM) to twelve (12) PPM in random samples of a shipment of ginseng supplied by Hauser. Scientists discovered quintozene in the first stage of testing through the PharmaPrint Process by Finzelberg AG in Germany, and re-confirmed the results in additional testing at Schuster Laboratories in the U.S. last week. PharmaPrint agreed to provide test data to FDA for further review.

"Our mission is to bring a new level of standardization and manufacturing control to the herbal industry," said Elliot Friedman, Chairman and CEO of PharmaPrint. "Our discovery of this contaminant demonstrates that our process works and can play a vital role in raising the public’s confidence in herbal products."

The PharmaPrint Process provides the technology necessary to (1) identify, quantify and control the bioactive components of an herbal compound, (2) determine the activity of each component in a specific bioassay, and (3) ensure the components are present in pre-determined quantities for a given manufactured herbal batch. Discovered and patented after 20 years of research at the University of Southern California Medical School, the PharmaPrint Process uses chemistry and biology to generate specifications for consistent manufacturing.

3. Hauser Issues Statement on Ginseng Contamination
BOULDER, Colo., May 21, PRNewswire -- Hauser, Inc. (Nasdaq: HAUS) today issued a statement concerning the discovery of small amounts of quintozene in bulk Panax ginseng extract shipped to a customer.

Quintozene is a common fungicide used by farmers to inhibit yield-limiting molds on vegetables and field crops. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established human dietary tolerance levels for approximately 400 agricultural chemicals, including quintozene, found in foods, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors food and nutritional products for these levels. However, neither the EPA nor the FDA have established standards for testing procedures for manufacturers such as Hauser. Methods for detection and removal of quintozene from a range of herbal products, including Panax ginseng, have recently been developed by Hauser.

Hauser’s Chief Executive Officer, Dean Stull, said, "Hauser’s primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our customers and consumers. Accordingly, we have halted all Panax ginseng processing and shipments, pending further testing and discussions with regulatory authorities. We are contacting all of our Panax ginseng customers regarding this situation and will resolve this issue as quickly as possible. However, based on the facts associated with the shipment in question and EPA and FDA regulations, we believe the levels of quintozene cited in the shipment in question are well below any reasonable risk levels."

Hauser develops, manufactures and markets special products from natural sources. Established in 1983, the Company’s business units are: Natural Ingredients, Technical Services and Pharmaceuticals.

[Panax ginseng is the botanical name for Asiatic ginseng. Nearly all ginseng produced in North America is of the American species, Panax quinquefolius. It is unclear whether Hauser imports all of its ginseng from Asia or erred in using the Panax ginseng name for ginseng grown in North America. --Ed.]

4. Warning Issued on Chinese Herbal Remedy

SACRAMENTO, May 14, BusinessWire HealthWire -- State Health Officer James W. Stratton, M.D., M.P.H. warned the public not to use a Chinese patent medicine product called Hui Chun Tan because it contains borneol, an ingredient that can cause serious illness and death.

Retailers, distributors and acupuncturists are being directed not to sell or provide Hui Chun Tan.

A 2-year-old child in San Diego was hospitalized after suffering two episodes of seizures after being given Hui Chun Tan on separate occasions. The Department’s Food and Drug laboratory found the product contained the undeclared ingredient borneol.

Borneol is a very toxic chemical which in small amounts can cause restlessness, excitement, and convulsions that can lead to death. Borneol also causes nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, and liver damage. Laboratory results also revealed the presence of a high level of lead.

Hui Chun Tan is an imported product manufactured by United Pharmaceutical Manufactory, Kwangchow, China. Hui Chun Tan is a brown powder sold in 2-inch vials, 12 vials to a yellow box. The box has illustrations of three interlinking babies on each side of red and white Chinese characters and black English instruction. The label indicates that Hui Chun Tan is to be given to infants for vomiting, diarrhea, fever and other serious conditions.

Consumers should immediately stop using Hui Chun Tan. If they are experiencing any effects from this powder, they should seek medical attention. Any Hui Chun Tan should be returned to its place of purchase, or disposed of safely to prevent access by children.

[Borneol, a processed resin derived from the borneo camphor tree (Dryobalanops aromatica), is sometimes used in Chinese medicine to "open the orifices". It is considered poisonous and is rarely used internally. The powder is useful applied to skin eruptions and eczema. Borneo camphor has been used as a substitute for camphor (Cinnamomum camphora). --Ed.]

5. U.S. Survey Finds Alternative Medicine Users Come from All Backgrounds
CHICAGO, May 19, AP -- The popularity of alternative medicine sweeps across racial lines and income levels and the vast majority of its users combine it with conventional medicine, a survey found.

Ninety-five percent of the people who consult alternative practitioners -- such as chiropractors, acupuncturists and herbalists -- or engage in alternative practices such as vegetarianism, yoga and meditation do so to complement traditional medicine, not to replace it, the survey found.

Researchers found that 54 percent of the people questioned were highly satisfied with their conventional practitioners, and 39 percent of the members of that group also used alternative care. Only 9 percent felt highly dissatisfied with conventional care, and 40 percent of them used alternative medicine.

And 50 percent of respondents with graduate degrees used alternative care, compared with 31 percent of those with a high school education or less.

"Users tend to be better educated and to hold a philosophical orientation toward health that can be described as holistic -- that is, they believe in the importance of body, mind and spirit in health," said a report on the survey in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Men and women were equally likely to use alternative care, as were old and young or affluent and lower-income, said the report by health psychologist John A. Astin, a researcher at the Center for Research in Disease Prevention, a conventional medicine facility at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif.

Forty-one percent of whites used alternative medicine, as did 29 percent of blacks and 40 percent of Hispanics, the survey found.

The report was based on questionnaires answered by 1,035 U.S. adults who are members of a panel maintained by the polling firm National Family Opinion Inc. to answer mail questionnaires.

6. Herbal Medicine Used to Treat Kidney Transplant Patients
NANJING, May 25, XINHUA -- Chinese researchers have found a way to use herbal medicine to deal with an acute reaction caused by a kidney transplant and call it an important development in kidney transplant research.

Sources at the Fifth Symposium on Kidney Disease on Monday said that the discovery was made by researchers at the Nanjing Military Area Command’s General Hospital. Kidney transplants are regarded as an effective means of treating chronic renal failure, but quite a number fail because of the acute reaction. The researchers found that the incidence of acute reject reaction could be reduced from the generally accepted 30 to 40 percent to less than 5 percent through the use of a medicine made from Leigongteng, or "three-wing-nut".

Li Leishi, of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, began doing research with the plant in 1990 on molecular immunology and cell biology. Experiments with lab animals showed that the herbal medical has a unique immunosupression characteristic that helps reduce the reaction and has no side-effects.

The drugs usually used to treat the rejection are expensive and have certain toxic side-effects on the liver and kidneys.

Li has in fact been successfully applying the common threewingnut medicine in treating chronic kidney disease since the 1980s.

[Lei Gong Teng or threewingnut (Triperygium wilfordii) is a highly toxic shrubby vine found growing along streams and in ditches in China. Roots, leaves, flowers and fruits are used externally for ulcers and pruritus. Used to kill maggots, larvae, rats, birds, and snails. Contains triptolide A, which inhibits leukemia in mice, but also damages the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. --Ed.]

7. Indians Turning to Tibetan Medicine
NEW DELHI, May 27, Indian Express -- Patients line up at 3.30 a.m. to register themselves for an appointment in the clinic that opens two and a half hours later. Nearly 100 patients visit each of the three doctors in the clinic every day and over 90 per cent of the patients are Indian. The small decrepit bungalow that houses the Tibetan Medical and Astro Centre buzzes with activity till 6 p.m.

Ashok Kamal, a heart patient who also suffers from poor digestion and insomnia, has been coming here for the last three months. "I feel that Tibetan medicine takes a little longer but is a surer cure. Every time I come there is an improvement," he says.

In fact, it is a common complaint amongst patients that allopathy does not cure but only provides immediate relief. Many patients suffering from chronic diseases have turned to the Tibetan Centre after exhausting conventional forms of medicine. Depending on the severity of the problem, there have been cases in which Tibetan medicine is said to have cured asthma completely and brought about dramatic improvement in cases of arthritis, high blood pressure, back problems, peptic ulcers etc. Allopathic doctors from Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Delhi have been known to send their patients to the centre in the hope of some improvement in their condition.

Fourty-one-year-old Shaleen Wadhwa says, "One year ago I could not work properly either at home or in office. After the medicines I not only feel younger, but I feel fresh all day long. My husband has also taken medicine for diabetes. His sugar level has decreased from 330-200 to 190-130." According to Dr. T. Tamdin, the head of the Tibetan Medical Clinic in Nizammuddin: "Doctors here work not for profit but for public service. The clinic is funded by a trust opened by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1982."

Patients unable to afford the cost of treatment are treated free of cost, while the rest are charged a reasonable consultation fee of Rs 30 on the first visit. Medicines prescribed can be obtained from a pharmacy in the clinic. There are 33 such clinics in India and one each in Nepal and Holland. Tibetan doctors practice in Japan, England and the U.S.A., and conduct frequent tours all over the world.

Dr Sonam Lhamo, a doctor at the clinic, believes that the the 3000-year legacy of Tibetan medicine is in itself proof of its validity. The medicine is made from herbs found in the Himalayan region.

Over 500 herbs are sourced from Sikkim, Dharamsala, Amritsar and some from Tibet. As for the patients, if their problem is severe, they may have to take medicines for years.

Dr. Pema, another Tibetan medicine specialist at the clinic, explains: "We try to root out the disease, not just make it subside or kill the pain. We give energy to the diseased organ. This takes time."

Pema explains their methods of diagnosis: "Tibetan doctors diagnose the problem after checking the whole body with the help of of their fingers. For example, the first finger of the right hand is used to feel the heart and the small intestine, the middle finger feels the stomach and the spleen and the ring finger feels the kidney and the urinary bladder. Similarly, the fingers of the left hand are taught to feel other organs of the body. Different types of pulse readings help determine whether a disease is `hot’ or `cold’." Tibetan medicine recognises three energies in the body - flame, wind and bile. An imbalance in any energy in any organ could lead to illness. Tamdin believes 99 per cent of heart problems are caused by mental stress.Hence, in case of imbalance of the wind in the heart, it is important for the patient to to take things easy and reduce stress.

Dietary restrictions are important in Tibetan medicine for both prevention of diseases and cure. "Our medicines are not antibodies, they are not high powered doses. So diet becomes important for a better response," says Tamdin.

In addition, Tibetan medicines have a series of therapies which are carried out for chronic diseases hammer therapy, cuping therapy, golden needle therapy and maxivasion. But these therapies are painful and according to Lhamo: "Most Indian patients cannot bear the pain." They are mostly practised in Simla or Dharamshala and only rarely in Delhi.

Inherent in the medicinal tradition is the use of precious pills. There are six types of precious pills which are made of herbs and are prescribed to patients suffering from chronic diseases. "Precious pills are usually in high demand. In fact, some years ago, their supply had stopped for three years at a stretch because the required herbs were not available," Lhamo tell us.

There is a strong relationship between Tibetan medicine and astrology and the precious pills that are prescribed for general well-being and good health are given according to the calendar and are often taken on special days like Buddha Purnima.

According to Lhamo, if the precious pills are taken according to the season most suitable to their intake, they are more effective. "Doctors of Tibetan medicine are also taught astrology," she tells us. Herbs are also picked according to the charts. Amongst the diseases allopathy claims no cure to, Tibetan medicine is said to dramatically improve the condition of patients suffering from second or third degree cancer or AIDS by strengthening the body’s immune system. But Lhamo is cautious: "We do not say we have a cure for cancer or AIDS."

In India, patients turn to Tibetan medicine only as a last resort, when disillusioned with allopathy. While the treatment takes time it has no visible side-effects and the success rate is high.

8. Overharvesting of Licorice Blamed for Dust Storms in China
TORONTO, May 13, Globe and Mail--China has blamed overharvesting of the licorice plant, a sand-dwelling species, for the devastating dust storms that have swept through the northern part of the country. China’s licorice root has skyrocketed in value as other licorice-producing countries such as Russia and the United States have implemented export bans to protect their environments.

9. Herb Business News
Efamol: Grants Emerson Ecologics Exclusive Distribution Rights

BOSTON, May 14, PRNewswire -- Today Efamol Nutraceuticals granted Emerson Ecologics, Inc. exclusive distribution rights to Efamol’s complete line of dietary supplements for professional use by doctors, nutritionists and therapists nationwide. Efamol’s professional products address a variety of health needs and contain Efamol’s patented Evening Primrose Oil.

"Emerson Ecologics provides health care professionals with high quality products, supported by years of research," said Gregg Sullivan, president of Efamol Nutraceuticals. "We are proud to be a part of Emerson’s elite product line and hope this partnership further extends our presence nationwide."

Emerson Ecologics distributes over 2,000 products to over 3,500 professional customers nationwide. Emerson’s products are chosen based on the strength of supporting research documentation, and many of Emerson’s natural products are backed by extensive published research. Emerson’s customers receive quarterly newsletters with timely research news on essential fatty acids, phytomedicines and nutrients -- keeping busy practitioners abreast of the latest developments. In addition, on-call technical support is available from Emerson’s trained staff of nutritionists via a toll-free number.

"Efamol’s worldwide sales record and research pedigree is unrivaled in the area of essential fatty acids," stated Joe Emerson, president of Emerson Ecologics and Certified Nutrition Specialist. "In fact, 95% of the research performed on Evening Primrose Oil has been conducted with Efamol’s patented version."

"More and more doctors are looking for natural, complementary approaches to medicine," according to Mr. Emerson. "We at Emerson Ecologics are trusted by doctors to provide and recommend scientifically supported products. We look forward to supplying our clients with Efamol’s premium products."

Emerson Ecologics supports health care professionals by providing them with the highest quality nutrients, herbs and natural products available. Emerson’s nutritionists select scientifically based, highly researched products from industry leaders, like Efamol Nutraceuticals. In addition, Emerson provides customers with quarterly research on the latest developments in the field of nutrition and herbs. Emerson Ecologics was founded in 1980 by Bill Emerson, Ph.D. and nutritionist Joe Emerson, M.A., and is located in Pepperell, Massachusetts.

Efamol is the world leader in essential fatty acid research and its role in human health. All of Efamol’s pharmaceutical-grade products contain as the principal ingredient Efamol(R) Pure Evening Primrose Oil, a highly effective source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which the body needs for cell repair and general well-being. Efamol Nutraceuticals, Inc. is the Boston-based American subsidiary of UK-based Efamol, Ltd., a member of the Scotia Holdings Group PLC.

Burns Philp: Sells British Pepper & Spice

SYDNEY, May 20, AAP -- Food group Burns Philp & Co Ltd said it has completed the sale of all the issued shares in British Pepper & Spice Co Ltd.

British Pepper & Spice was Burns Philp’s UK based herbs and spices operation.

The purchaser is a company owned and controlled by funds managed by Primary Capital Ltd, a UK based private equity manager, Burns Philp said in a statement.

Consideration for the sale is Stg1 and Stg5.0 million of intercompany debt will be repaid by British Pepper & Spice (approximately $A13 million).

Yesterday, Burns Philp said it would net $39 million from the sale of its Australasian food ingredients business to Ireland’s Kerry Group.

And on Monday, Burns Philp said it would sell its small sachet packaging business, Melbourne-based EL Bell Packaging, to Kira Pty Ltd for an undisclosed sum.

Burns Philp: Negotiating Sale of Australian Food Ingredients Unit

By Andrew Hobbs

SYDNEY, May 15, AAP -- Shrinking food group Burns Philp & Co Ltd finally admitted today it was negotiating with Ireland’s Kerry Group to sell its Australian food ingredients division.

The market has anticipated the sale to the Kerry Group since it was flagged in an Irish newspaper late last month, but Burns Philp has been evasive on the issue until today.

Burns Philp company secretary Helen Golding said the final price and scope of the deal rested on further negotiations with Kerry.

"The sale is conditional on concluding ongoing negotiations with Kerry in respect of Burns Philp’s New Zealand food ingredients business," Ms Golding said.

"These negotiations are expected to conclude shortly."

The former Australian blue-chip said it would make a small profit on the division’s written down book value on the price currently under negotiation.

Burns Philp said speculation that it would sell the businesses for $77.7 million was inaccurate but that the price contemplated would be a premium to written down book value.

Last March, an Irish newspaper said Burns would sell the businesses to Kerry for Stg25 million ($A65.11 million).

The Irish newspaper said Kerry chief executive Denis Brosnan restated earlier in April his objective to grow its food ingredients operations in Australia, Asia and South America to the level of its North American and European businesses through incremental expansions.

Previously, Burns Philp had categorised its bakery ingredients business as "core", but market observers said at the time they were not surprised the company might be considering its sale.

Burns Philp’s bakery and seasonings business supplies food ingredients to bakeries and food processors in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America.

Burns Philp previously said it would sell off all but its core businesses of yeast, yeast extract, vinegar and bakery ingredients to help pay off debt of $1.5 billion and stave off receivership.

It had already sold its shipping agencies for an undisclosed sum, its Dutch herb and spice operation, its Australian and New Zealand consumer goods businesses and its Hartland Cables operation.

The major asset left in Burns Philp’s larder is its US herb and spice businesses which failed to attract outside interest last year when the company offered it to tender. The business has an estimated 14 per cent share of the US herb and spice market.

Even a $US171 million ($264 million) management buyout of the business last year failed after the suitor pulled out.

The failed sell-off later trigered a $700 million write down in the value of Burns Philp’s world-wide spice business and was one of a number of setbacks delivered last year that has pushed the company’s share price to a tenth of its May 1997 value by the close today.

Burns’ shares ended steady at 17.5 cents.

Celestial Seasonings: Announces Launch of E-Commerce Web Site

SAN FRANCISCO, May 12, PRNewswire -- INTERSHOP Communications, Inc., a world-leading provider of electronic commerce software, and Celestial Seasonings, the leading U.S. manufacturer of specialty teas, today announced the launch of Celestial Seasonings corporate Web site. The site provides access to product information and has online sales capability...

"We are proud to add Celestial Seasonings to our reference list," said Al Powell, INTERSHOP’s vice president of sales. "INTERSHOP eCommerce technology is ideal to extend Celestial’s reach to the Internet and complement their distribution network and catalog sales. Celestial has crafted a unique and incredibly well designed site that will increase an already tremendous brand recognition."

Celestial Seasonings, a publicly traded company with 1997 revenues of $79 million, used their high name recognition to provide customers with a Web site that delivers product information and a complete electronic commerce solution for purchasing merchandise on the Internet. Research data showed a high affinity between Celestial Seasoning’s customers and Web users.

The site was designed to offer easy navigation, a high degree of search flexibility and extensive cross-referencing. Online customers can purchase the entire array of gifts and merchandise from Celestial’s direct-to-consumer catalog, including their full line of teas and herbal supplements.

Steve McKown, director of information technology at Celestial Seasonings, [said] "The site has been live for less than one month and already it’s a commercial success. We surpassed our 90-day goal for hits after 30 days and the solution already accounts for more than five percent of new catalog orders. Additionally, the cost of taking orders has decreased while allowing us to service our customers 24 hours per day."

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