Richters HerbLetter


Date: 98/09/27
Contents
1. Herb-Laced Chips Promote Well-Being
2. Ex-Doctor Spared Prison in Tea Death
3. Lines Fading Between Complementary and Conventional Medicine
4. U.S. Medical Journal Denounces Alternative Medicine
5. One in Three Doctors Recommends Herbal Supplements To Patients
6. Coffee-bean Chemical Eyed as HIV Preventive
7. Hyperforin is a Key to St. John’s Wort, Researchers Say
8. Farmer Plows Under Hemp Crop
9. Bigelow Empire Built on Flavoured Teas
10. Zimbabwe’s Vuka-Vuka Reportedly More Potent Than Viagra
11. Hollywood Celebrities Hitting Up Herbalists
12. Nutraceutical Excitement Offers PR Opportunities
13. Herb Business News

1. Herb-Laced Chips Promote Well-Being
By Donna Abu-Nasr

WASHINGTON, Sept 24, AP -- There was a time when potato chips were just potato chips, their greasy crunch leaving the snacker with an aftertaste of delicious guilt.

No more.

A new kind of chips aims at tackling the psyche rather than tickling the taste bud, promising to turn Americans into kinder, happier and gentler souls.

The secret? Herbs and plant extracts, like St. John’s wort, gingko biloba and kava kava, added to the chips along with essences of edible flowers -- violet, chamomile, peppermint and passion flower -- to help combat depression, promote long life and improve memory.

"It’s just one of those next steps in the evolution of snacks and food," said the chips’ manufacturer, Robert Ehrlich. "There are definitely benefits from the product."

But not everyone is swallowing that claim. Some nutritionists have expressed concern that all the feel-good messages about the snacks are just advertising gimmicks to sell chips.

"These products encourage people to think chips are a health food when they’re not," said Marion Nestle, chairwoman of the department of nutrition and food studies at New York University, referring to the herbal chips.

"They’re just ridiculous," said Norman Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry and author of "St. John’s Wort: The Herbal Way to Feeling Good. "It would be like having a penicillin pie or an antibiotic apple strudel."

"If people are really feeling depressed or anxious they should not depend on a potato chip," Rosenthal added.

The FDA’s chief of special nutritionals, Elizabeth Yetley, said Ehrlich does not have an obligation to discuss his products with the FDA. But it is his responsibility to make sure that food products are safe before he markets them.

Rosenthal said St. John’s wort is an effective anti-depressant if used properly. Otherwise, "it’s nothing more than a party joke," he said.

Ehrlich said a 1 ounce bag contains an average of 150 milligrams of St. John’s wort, well below the 900 milligram dose that Rosenthal said is usually recommended. That means snackers would have to consume six bags -- at a whopping 840 calories -- to achieve bliss, if they don’t get sick first from eating too many chips.

Ehrlich argued that his chips are not supplements but snacks. He also said there is benefit from the herbs because they are not cooked. Rather, the off-white powdery herb is sprinkled on after the products are made, leaving a slightly bitter aftertatse.

"Even though there are critics, people love them," Ehrlich maintained.

Ehrlich began making his mood-enhancing snacks four years ago. A group of herbalists, zen masters, a psychiatrist and young consumers help put the products together. At 99 cents for a 2 ounce bag, the chips are sold in supermarkets -- in the health food section -- in the United States and in some parts of Europe, Asia and South America.

His latest product, Personality Puffs, came out this month. Low fat Cardio Chips containing a blend of natural herbs to improve cardiovascular health, metabolic conditions, the immune system and aging will come out next month.

His other herbal products include St. John’s Wort Tortilla Chips, to improve moods, Gingko Biloba Rings, to enhance memory, and Kava Corn Chips to promote relaxation.

Personality Puffs, which come in the shape of little people, are made up of a blend of flowers, St. John’s Wort and gingko biloba.

But before impatiently ripping open the bag, snackers are asked to take a good look at the back of the package.

Unlike the other herbal products, Personality Puffs come with a set of printed rules that will "open you to the magic that is ready to happen in your life."

Snackers are asked to buy at least two bags and give one away to a stranger within one hour of purchase. That, Ehrlich said, will create goodwill and kindness.

They are also asked to clear their mind and drop their worries, listen to what people say, cultivate relationships, smile and hold that smile for a solid five seconds.

"It seems a little weird now," admitted Ehrlich. "But it’s going to catch on like crazy."


2. Ex-Doctor Spared Prison in Tea Death
ALLEGAN, Mich., Sept 19, AP -- A former doctor convicted of injecting an herbal remedy that killed a cancer patient was spared prison by a judge who said he struggled with the appropriate punishment.

Judge George Corsiglia on Friday sentenced Dr. Sandor Olah, 52, to 2,500 hours of community service, five years of probation and more than $2,200 in fines. If Olah worked eight hours each day, the community service amounts to 312 days.

Olah, an osteopath, was convicted in July of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Petra Hall, 54. She died Feb. 6, 1996, 11 days after receiving the treatment by Olah.

The involuntary manslaughter count had carried a sentence of up to 15 years in prison -- a punishment Corsiglia said he couldn’t justify.

"I struggled with an appropriate sentence in this case more than any other since I’ve been on the bench," the judge told Olah. "I have found that you are not evil and didn’t do this with any malice, but that can’t mitigate the fact of releasing you from the criminal liability you’re responsible for."

Olah told the court how remorseful he was for the death and how he hoped to redeem himself in the medical profession.

The state has revoked Olah’s medical license earlier this month. He may apply for reinstatement after three years, but cannot practice medicine while on probation.


3. Lines Fading Between Complementary and Conventional Medicine
STANFORD, Calif., Sept 18, BW HealthWire -- Complementary therapies, such as chiropractic, acupuncture or meditation, are so interwoven in the fabric of American health care that it may no longer be relevant to draw firm lines between complementary and conventional medicine, researchers have concluded after analyzing a nationwide survey conducted by the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention (SCRDP).

Results from the random telephone survey of 1,000 Americans were released at Stanford on Friday, Sept. 18, at a conference attended by some 500 physicians and other health professionals. The researchers disclosed that 69 percent of survey respondents had used some form of complementary and/or alternative medicine (CAM) in the past year. Respondents had also seen traditional MDs an average of four times yearly.

"So, based on this and other details, we are getting a clearer picture of how CAM and traditional medicine are becoming interwoven," said William Haskell, PhD, a Stanford professor of medicine (cardiovascular). Haskell is the principal investigator for the Stanford component of a major federally funded study evaluating the effectiveness of various CAM techniques. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Alternative Medicine.

More than 56 percent of the respondents in the recent telephone survey said they believe their health plan should cover CAM. On average, respondents said they would be willing to spend an additional $15.41 per month for health insurance for complementary services such as chiropractic, massage or acupuncture.

Respondents said they use similar criteria for choosing their conventional and CAM practitioners, with "technical skills at diagnosis and treatment" rated as the most important for both types of practitioners.

"What we see from this current survey and many other indicators is that people generally want to take control of their own health, using those services they find most effective," Haskell said.

"This places responsibility on both traditional care providers and health educators to ensure that responsible information and advice are available to patients," he added.

Health educator Wes Alles, PhD, director of the SCRDP’s Health Improvement Program, presented the new findings at the Sept. 18 conference, "Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Scientific Evidence and Steps Toward Integration."

R. Douglas Metz, DC, chief chiropractic officer and vice president of health services for American Specialty Health Plans (ASHP) in San Diego, said information from the study "will assist doctors and policy makers as decisions are made about effective ways to integrate these services into the American health care system."

The conference was sponsored by Stanford University in collaboration with ASHP, which offers complementary medicine through health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and by Health Net, a network-model HMO based in Woodland Hills, Calif.

ASHP President George DeVries, president of ASHP, said his company "appreciated the opportunity to participate." He added, "Not only did the study reinforce the findings of Dr. David Eisenberg [of Harvard University, author of a pioneering CAM study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1993], but it also reflected many of the changes that have occurred in the rapidly growing alternative health care industry."

Haskell noted that a growing number of traditional patient-care organizations, including UCSF Stanford Health Care, now offer complementary services in a dedicated clinic that integrates these services, including insurance reimbursement, with more traditional medicine.

The recent telephone survey queried respondents on their interest in and use of 19 different techniques: acupuncture, herbal medicine, chiropractic, vitamin therapy, massage, naturopathy, homeopathy, chelation, meditation, spiritual health, relaxation, yoga, folk remedies, guided imagery, hypnosis, tai chi, ayurvedic medicine, macrobiotic diet and Chinese medicine.

The study showed that while 55 percent of alternative medicine users had reduced the traditional medical services they used, the rest said their use of CAM had no effect on their visits to traditional physicians. Seventy-three percent of men and 87 percent of women in the study said they have a medical doctor they use most often for routine care.

While this survey, compared with earlier ones, indicated that a larger proportion of Americans are using more CAM services, Alles warned that "there is still some ambiguity in the mind of the public and researchers about what constitutes CAM, so statistics must be viewed extremely cautiously."

For example, he noted that while nearly one-third of the respondents in the new study said they had used vitamin therapy in the past year, it was not clear whether users were taking megadoses to achieve a specific prevention or treatment goal, or were simply taking a daily multivitamin -- a practice often recommended as a part of a conventional health regimen.


4. U.S. Medical Journal Denounces Alternative Medicine
By Gene Emery

BOSTON, Sept 16, Reuters -- The influential New England Journal of Medicine urged scientists to stop giving fast-growing alternative medicine a "free ride," saying its remedies were unproven, unregulated and sometimes dangerous.

The promoters of such treatments usually offer testimonials to back up their claims and are reluctant to conduct tests to show if the therapies actually work, the editors said.

"But assertions, speculation and testimonials do not constitute evidence," Journal Executive Editor Marcia Angell and Editor-in-Chief Jerome Kassirer wrote in Thursday’s edition of the weekly medical journal.

"It is time for the scientific community to stop giving alternative medicine a free ride. There cannot be two kinds of medicine -- conventional and alternative. There is only medicine that has been adequately tested and medicine that has not, medicine that works and medicine that may or may not work," they said.

Their editorial appeared in the journal, one of the United States’ most prestigious medical periodicals, as a growing number of doctors are dabbling in such treatments, in part to attract patients disenchanted with conventional medicine.

As many as a third of cancer patients in developed countries use alternative treatments, such as diet and food supplements, Chinese medicine, herbs and homeopathy, in addition to standard treatment.

U.S. government researchers have recognised this interest, opening the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health and starting research into which alternative therapies might work.

One source of concern by the New England Journal editors was the lack of government control over the safety or purity of "dietary supplements" promoted to cure disease. Most of the Food and Drug Administration’s authority in that area was stripped away by Congress in 1994 under pressure from multibillion-dollar supplement industry.

The journal also included studies and letters suggesting why stronger regulation is needed.

Researchers from New Jersey examined one man with prostate cancer who developed breast tenderness and a loss of sex drive after taking an herbal preparation sold as PC-SPES -- PC stands for prostate cancer and SPES is Latin for hope.

Tests by the New Jersey group showed that PC-SPES acted like the female hormone oestrogen, reducing the amount of the male hormone testosterone.

Although herbal products and other "health foods" cannot make medical claims, Angell and Kassirer cited PC-SPES as an example of the "double-speak" to promote a substance as a drug without being regulated like a drug.

Some people are becoming so enamoured of "alternative" therapies, they are choosing them over proven treatments, according to four doctors from Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.

The doctors reported the case of a boy with Hodgkin’s disease who rejected chemotherapy and radiation in favour of an herbal treatment. The treatment failed, the tumour worsened and the boy asked for the standard treatment.

At the same hospital, the parents of a 9-year-old girl whose brain tumour had been removed insisted on treating her with shark cartilage instead of chemotherapy and radiation, for which the cure rate is at least 50 percent. Four months later, the tumour reappeared and the girl died.

In another journal article, researchers found several dietary supplements contaminated by Digitalis lanata, which can cause the heart to beat irregularly. Nobody noticed the problem for two years.

A third letter to the Journal described how researchers found hidden drugs or deadly heavy metals in 32 percent of the 260 Asian patent medicines they analysed.

"The remaining products cannot be assumed to be safe and free of toxic ingredients, in view of their batch-to-batch inconsistency," wrote Richard Ko of the California Department of Health Services.


5. One in Three Doctors Recommends Herbal Supplements To Patients
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 16, PRNewswire -- Herbal supplements are now entering mainstream medical practice, with one in three primary care doctors recommending them to patients at least weekly, most frequently for people with mood and emotional complaints, according to a national survey released today.

Doctors also practice what they preach, with one in four doctors personally consuming herbal supplements, showed the survey released during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Family Physicians in San Francisco. The survey was sponsored by Pharmaton Natural Health Products of Ridgefield, Connecticut.

The herbal supplement doctors find most useful and effective is St. John’s Wort (27 percent), which helps provide emotional balance, followed by ginkgo biloba (18 percent), which helps mental alertness.

"Primary care physicians are not as resistant to herbal supplements as some might think and, in fact, are recommending herbs and using them personally to a surprising degree," said Derrick DeSilva Jr., MD, a practicing internist who teaches at JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ, and is author of Ask The Doctor: Herbs & Supplements for Better Health (Interweave Press 1997).

The survey of herbal attitudes among family practitioners, general practitioners and internists revealed that doctors most frequently recommend herbs for people seeking emotional balance (20 percent). About as many doctors recommend herbal supplements for fatigue and lack of energy.

While patients seek advice about herbal supplements more frequently from younger doctors, it’s the older doctors who are more likely to consume herbs themselves. Overall, 67 percent of patients ask doctors about dietary supplements at least once a week, with most questions directed at doctors age 50 and under (73 percent vs. 60 percent over age 50). At the same time, 28 percent of doctors personally use herbal supplements, with higher use among physicians over age 50 (35 percent vs. 20 percent age 50 and under). On average these doctors have been using herbal supplements for 5 years, and they are most popular among family physicians (39 percent vs. 25 percent for general practitioners vs. 18 percent for internists).

Personal experience with dietary supplements strongly influences a doctor’s willingness to recommend them to patients. Overall, 33 percent of doctors recommended herbs to their patients each week, with those who use supplements themselves twice as likely to suggest them for their patients (57 percent vs. 23 percent who do not use herbs themselves).

The telephone survey of 153 doctors nationwide was conducted by Bruskin/Goldring Research of Edison, NJ, from July 30 to Aug. 14, 1998. The margin of error is plus or minus 8 percent.


6. Coffee-bean Chemical Eyed as HIV Preventive
WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, Kyodo -- U.S. researchers have found a chemical extracted from green coffee beans, which may help fight HIV infection of human cells, according to professors at the University of California, Irvine.

A recent report in the Journal of Virology said that the researchers’ findings could lead to development of a new class of AIDS-fighting drugs without negative side effects.

A group led by Edward Robinson, professor of microbiology and pathology at the university, added the chemical called chicoric acid to cells infected with HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, and found that the acid appeared to halt the infection process, according to the journal.

The acid, which is identical to substances used by Bolivian shamans in medicinal plants, stops one of three key enzymes called HIV integrase from promoting the infection, the researchers said.

Generally, HIV takes over healthy cells by weaving its viral genetic material in with the cell’s DNA, and rapidly makes multiple copies of itself, they said.

The chicoric acid appears to disturb this process of HIV integration by halting function of the HIV integrase, thus preventing HIV from reproducing and infecting other cells, they said.

The chemical is expected to be the first effective weapon to attack the HIV integrase, they said.

The other two enzymes -- HIV protease and HIV reverse transcriptase -- have been the targets of anti-AIDS drug "cocktails," which are mixtures of several chemicals that arrest the action of HIV.

The cocktails are now routinely prescribed for AIDS patients as the most effective way to combat the disease, but the toxic side effects and the HIV’s ability to quickly develop resistance to some of its chemicals were problems, the researchers said.

The professors said the finding of the acid was meaningful since it could lead to a development of nontoxic AIDS drugs to which HIV has not become resistant.

Robinson and his colleagues, who have made extracts of more than 60 plants used by shamans of the Kallawaya people in Bolivia, found that several of them included chicoric acid.

The acid cannot be extracted from roasted coffee beans, the researchers said.

Robinson cautioned, however, that chicoric acid is not potent enough to act as anti-AIDS drug on its own, and said that his group will continue working to make a more powerful synthetic chemical that inhibits HIV integrase as the acid does.


7. Hyperforin is a Key to St. John’s Wort, Researchers Say
RIDGEFIELD, Conn., Sept. 16, PRNewswire -- Clinical research has shown what may be a key to St. John’s Wort’s power, a component called hyperforin, which is now widely available in the U.S. in an advanced extract of St. John’s Wort found in a new product called MOVANA(TM), Pharmaton Natural Health Products announced today.

"This discovery is extremely exciting for people seeking a dependable route to a positive outlook on life," said Derrick DeSilva Jr., MD, a practicing internist who teaches at JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ, and is author of Ask The Doctor: Herbs & Supplements for Better Health (Interweave Press 1997). "While previous clinical studies have shown St. John’s Wort is effective, questions remained about the identity of the active component and how it relates to efficacy. These studies on the extract in MOVANA help answer those questions."

The yellow-flowered plant with the Latin name Hypericum perforatum has been heralded for decades for its ability to balance emotions. More recently, scientists found it played a role in the transmission of brain signals through gaps in the nerve known as synapses. The transmission requires the release and then re-uptake of chemical bridges known as neurotransmitters. St. John’s Wort was shown to inhibit the re-uptake of neurotransmitters such as serotonin (attributed to feelings of cheerfulness and calm, researchers say), noradrenaline (alertness and energy) and dopamine (sociability). By promoting normal levels of neurotransmitters, St. John’s Wort helps maintain positive emotions.

The finding that hyperforin is one of the main active components of St. John’s Wort is so significant that Pharmacopsychiatry, a prestigious German journal of clinical pharmacology and psychiatry, recently devoted an entire supplemental issue to hyperforin. It includes several recent clinical studies that show hyperforin may be the compound responsible for inhibiting neurotransmitter reuptake --- rather than the compound hypericin as previously believed. One of the studies also shows that St. John’s Wort with a higher hyperforin content is more effective.

In a randomized, double-blind placebo controlled study, published in Pharmacopsychiatry (June 1998), a group of 147 people took either a St. John’s Wort extract with 5 percent hyperforin, one with 0.5 percent hyperforin or a placebo. At the end of the six-week trial, those taking the highest hyperforin dose showed the most positive results. After eight days, those who took the higher hyperforin showed the greatest changes in delta, theta and alpha-1 brain wave activity. Scientists hypothesize that this is physical evidence that hyperforin is inhibiting the re-uptake of seratonin, noradrenaline and dopamine.

- Stabilization Breakthrough For Fragile Compound -

Hyperforin is an extremely fragile compound that typically degrades rapidly. MOVANA employs a special patent-pending process to stabilize its hyperforin to a minimum of 3 percent --- a full 50 percent higher than most other brands.

"With MOVANA you can be sure that when you want to maintain your sense of well-being, you are getting the help you expect each and every time," said Robert Carraher, executive director of marketing at Pharmaton Natural Health Products, a division of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

St. John’s Wort has a strong record of safety and effectiveness in Europe where it has been popular for over 15 years and has been used with no serious side effects. The extract is made from the flowers and leaves of the plant, which blooms around June 24, the birthday of St. John the Baptist.

MOVANA is being marketed to adults who want to maintain a normal sense of well being, motivation and positive outlook on life even during times of stress and low-light seasons. People who are taking a prescription medicine or pregnant or nursing women should speak with their physician before taking this or any other dietary supplement. Those with fair or sensitive skin who take this product should avoid prolonged direct sunlight or should use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more, as photosensitivity may occur.

The mood support supplement is available in food, drug and mass merchandise outlets. The 300-mg tablets should be taken three times daily. Optimal effectiveness has been shown in as little as two weeks with continued use.

Pharmaton Natural Health Products is the U.S. consumer products division of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and is part of the Boehringer Ingelheim worldwide group of companies, based in Ingelheim-on-the-Rhine, Germany. Boehringer Ingelheim is a major pharmaceutical, chemical and animal health company with operations in 160 countries around the world. Currently, its GINKOBA(TM) and GINSANA(TM) brands are among the top-selling brands in the United States.


8. Farmer Plows Under Hemp Crop
By Bill Cleverly

ISLAND VIEW BEACH, B.C., Sept 21, Times Colonist [Abstract] -- Farmer Vern Michell plowed under his 10 acre crop of commercial hemp last Friday, unable to put up with the thefts of his plants. Michell estimated about 100 groups of mostly youths have been wandering up to the field adjacent to Island View Beach. He will absorb about a $10,000 loss on the one million plants he destroyed. This is the first year industrial hemp has been planted on the Island.


9. Bigelow Empire Built on Flavoured Teas
By Denise Lavoie

FAIRFIELD, Conn., Sept 15, AP -- It’s safe to say Cindi Bigelow has tea in her blood.

Her grandmother, Ruth Campbell Bigelow, founded R.C. Bigelow Inc. in 1945, pioneering flavored teas at a time when tea was a decidedly plain beverage.

More than 50 years later, Cindi Bigelow helps run a specialty empire that produces $75 million in annual sales, more than 50 different kinds of tea and close to 1 billion tea bags a year.

She spends up to 14 hours a day pondering blends ranging from Purely Peppermint to Sinfully Cinnamon. Yet Cindi Bigelow is not tired of tea. She drinks about four cups of her family’s mixtures a day: from a hearty Earl Grey to a soothing raspberry herbal iced tea.

"I love the product," she says. "What can I say?"

There was never any doubt that Bigelow would go into her family’s business. She watched her mother and father, David and Eunice Bigelow, taste-test new flavors as they helped build the company into one of the leading specialty teamakers in the country.

"I always knew that this was what I wanted to do," she said. "I’ve always liked the business. My family has never put one ounce of pressure on me."

Bigelow, based in Fairfield, claims about 24 percent of the herbal tea market, second behind Celestial Seasonings Inc. In the specialty tea category, which includes flavored, herbal and decaffeinated teas, Bigelow runs neck-and-neck with Celestial.

As vice president of operations, Cindi Bigelow oversees the company’s three manufacturing plants, handling quality control, purchasing, distribution and planning functions. About 300 of Bigelow’s 400 employees report to her.

Her parents still have an active role in the company -- her father is president and chairman while her mother is a vice president. Her sister, Lori, is vice president of blending, in charge of developing new flavors.

Cindi Bigelow, 38, worked her way up through a half-dozen jobs before getting the operations post nine months ago.

Her first job after graduating from Boston College with a marketing degree was operations manager at Seagram Co. Although she wanted the experience of working for another company, she said she knew she would spend her career in the family business. She’s worked at Bigelow since 1984.

In the business community, she is known for her boundless energy and commitment to community projects. In 1996, she spearheaded a drive to raise $150,000 and recruit 2,500 volunteers to build a playground in Fairfield.

"Without Cindi, it would never have happened. She put blood, sweat and tears into it," said Carole Adzima, a colleague from the Greater Bridgeport Regional Business Council.

Cindy Robinson, a close friend and former roommate, said Bigelow has the same kind of drive in her personal life, balancing her job, a husband, two children and many community projects.

"She’s a planner. She’s always planning something. The kind of energy little kids have -- she still has it," Robinson said.

At Bigelow, she is known as a demanding manager. But her goal is to improve efficiency, communication and morale.

"I am definitely tough. It’s not easy to work with me because I have such high expectations," she said. "I think I’m fair and I’d like to think I try to work with everyone to bring out their best qualities."

And she is known as a loyal friend. Robinson recalls that when she had surgery two years ago, Bigelow was there for her.

"When I woke up from my surgery, she was sitting in a chair in my room, reading a book, and she had a vase of flowers. She said she just wanted to see me wake up," Robinson said.

Bigelow is a tireless promoter of her company, which had been keeping a low profile even though its tea bags -- in their distinctive foil packets -- are familiar to many. She said the company has beefed up its public relations department in recent months.

Bigelow said she hopes she has inherited some of her grandmother’s creativity and marketing sense.

As Cindi tells the story, Ruth Campbell Bigelow founded the company after her interior decorating business was wiped out during the Depression. Unhappy with the plain tea of the era, she decided to develop a tea with more flavor. Using a recipe from Colonial times, she added orange peel and sweet spices. The flavor was a sensation at a tea party given by a New York socialite.

"My grandmother called this woman and asked her what she thought of the tea, and she said, `Oh, they loved it. It was a source of constant comment.’"

The company’s flagship tea, "Constant Comment," was born. It is still the company’s best seller, along with its Earl Grey. Over the last seven years, the company has added green tea, which some studies have shown may help prevent some types of cancer.

The company would not release profit figures. Sales were approximately $75 million in the fiscal year that ended on June 30.

Cindi Bigelow says she has never felt any strong pressure because of her status as the boss’ daughter.

"I think the people respect the fact that I’ve worked in the job," she said, "and that I’m not Ivory Towering it."


10. Zimbabwe’s Vuka-Vuka Reportedly More Potent Than Viagra
By Thabo Kunene

BULAWAYO, Sept 13, Zimbabwe Independent -- If you are a man who has not found glory with the American male anti-impotency drug, Viagra, then you should try the indigenous Zimbabwean version-vuka-vuka. The traditional Zimbabwean herb is reputed to cure impotence among men.

Vuka-vuka-a Ndebele term for "wake-up, wake up" is currently the most popular and top-selling drug in Bulawayo. Users of the drug say there is no American or European drug that can beat it. Vuka-vuka is available at a very cheap price at the local open markets and in surgeries run by traditional doctors (izinyanga). Most men who spoke to The Standard said Americans should forget about Viagra and come to Zimbabwe where traditional healers will prescribe them vuka-vuka. "Vuka-vuka performs wonders for men in bed. My clients always come back to me saying their batteries are now charging," said Vuka-vuka specialist, George Moyo.

Moyo’s surgery in Tshabalala is always full of clients who have become impotent. When The Standard visited Moyo at his wooden surgery, he was busy preparing Vuka-vuka for these clients. According to Moyo, white people who have not heard about vuka-vuka are not serious about improving their sexual problems. "If you drink Vuka-vuka, it will keep you awake all night. Ours is stronger than Viagra," said Moyo, who is also the chairman of the Matabeleland Cultural Society, Vukani Mahlabezulu.

American tourists have been flocking to Mr Moyo’s house to buy Vuka- vuka. The Americans say they saw a Zimbabwean programme about Vuka-vuka on the cable television network, CNN two months ago. The programme was filmed at Mr Moyo’s surgery in Tshabalala. The Vuka-vuka programme was screened more than four times by CNN and became a hit with Americans who started enquiring about Mr Moyo and the Zimbabwean Vuka-Vuka aphrodisiac. Vuka-vuka has been in existence for many decades but the drug only became popular after the much-publicised Viagra. At Makhokhoba market in Bulawayo, herbalists who sell Vuka-vuka have put up advertisements aimed at attracting American tourists who visit the township regularly.

One of the herbalists, George Sibanda, a former guerrilla, has composed a song to popularise Vuka-vuka. I found him singing to a group of Americans at Makhokhoba and also featured on the CNN programme on Vuka-vuka. Edward Mhlanga of Tshabalala says he will never use Viagra when there is Vuka-vuka in Zimbabwe which is very cheap. A bottled concoction of Vuka-vuka costs $10.00 while one viagra pill is sold for US$9.00. Moyo says he treats both men and women when they have sexual problems at home. Those who use Vuka-vuka say the drug has no known side effects and you only need to take it once for it to work for the whole month. There are times however when women complain about the excessive sexual appetites displayed by husbands who drink Vuka-vuka every week.


11. Hollywood Celebrities Hitting Up Herbalists
LOS ANGELES, Sept 14, Cosmopolitan (distributed by AP) -- It’s a trend that’s turning the desert oasis of Los Angeles into a giant herb garden. Whereas just a few years ago celebs could be seen frequenting juice bars or water bars or, more recently, oxygen bars. Now anyone who’s not just anyone is hitting up local herbalists, wrote Jodi Bryson in an article in the September issue of Cosmopolitan. And health marketeers are happy to comply, offering products designed to boost energy, zap a cold, increase sex drive, and enhance good looks.

Every leaf, root, and bark with even the slightest reputation for healing and enhancing is being boiled, brewed, and pulverized into teas, tonics, and any number of goods -- goods that have Tinseltown in a tizzy.

When Winona Ryder is feeling a tad flush, she orders 8 ounces of a warm tonic called Yin From the Cold. The caramel-flavored elixir contains the root extracts echinacea and goldenseal -- both believed to stimulate the immune system by increasing the number of disease-fighting white blood cells. There’s no hard evidence that such elixirs work, but who wouldn’t feel better sipping herbal tea or attending yoga classes? Especially when other celebrities swear by such drinks.

Take for example Jada Pinkett Smith, whose drink of choice is the Slow Burn tonic (which contains ginseng extract), and Julia Roberts who enjoys the Ginseng Extreme formula. "Ginseng has a long-standing reputation as an anti-aging remedy," explains Harold H. Bloomfield, M.D., author of "Healing Anxiety With Herbs." "It can also improve vitality, alertness, concentration, coordination, memory, and mood." And herbs aren’t just for the ladies: Kevin Bacon and Brendan Fraser are also big fans of dried-herb drinks.

Perhaps sipping herbal tonics in the company of superstars isn’t your cup of tea, so to speak. Maybe you’re more the type to sit at home snacking on junk food and watching television. That doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the celebrity herb trend -- in fact, you could find yourself right in the middle of it. For example, while you were busy buying nachos for your goodbye "Seinfeld" party, Jerry and the gang were keeping their energy up by munching on Powder Puffs, a cheese-puff imposter that’s loaded with ginseng and bee pollen (which is believed to have the same beneficiary properties as vitamin C, fighting everything from colds to aging).

Other celebrities including, Brooke Shields, Katie Couric, Steven Spielberg, Kevin Kline, Howard Stern, and Ru Paul, order herbal food. It makes sense that a junk-food junkie would turn to herbal snacks. A 4-ounce bag of Powder Puffs (which taste like the Cheese Doodles you remember from fourth grade) packs just 110 calories, no preservatives, and only 3 grams of fat.

If herbs are good for the inside of your body, they must be good for the outside as well. To add body to her lemony locks, Jewel conditions with a product called Forever in Bloom from Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, made with chamomile, jasmine, and honeysuckle. Madonna uses a body-heat-activated melting massage bar made from white chocolate, synthetic mink oil, and peppermint.

What’s ironic about this suddenly fashionable frenzy is that herbal remedies aren’t new. The notion that bits of dried leaves and roots can soothe and cure body and mind has been around for thousands of years. And while the medical community is still undecided about the effectiveness of all these leaf-and-berry remedies, that’s not going to stop celebrities from rooting them out.


12. Nutraceutical Excitement Offers PR Opportunities
Sept. 24, Healthcare PR & Marketing News -- Growing consumer demand for nutraceuticals is creating exciting PR opportunities for those adept at educating consumers about health- related benefits without violating Food & Drug Administration marketing limits.

By the year 2000, the vitamin- and mineral-enriched foods industry is expected to reach $700 million, a 7 percent increase from 1995, according to FIND/SVP, a market research firm in New York.

But the FDA is keeping close tabs on claims that can be made about nutraceuticals via the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, which prevents manufacturers from making certain claims about dietary supplements. Additionally, the media and consumer advocacy groups are closely watching developments in this market.

Although the industry is overcoming its "snake oil" consumer perception, it still is fighting to legitimize itself with more sophisticated "third-party" research. And manufacturers are seeking PR counsel for communications support ranging from campaigns that build credibility via medical experts to surveys that raise the profiles of new category entrants - herbal products and sports nutrition supplements.

"Manufacturers are looking for communications partners who can manage the many restrictions on marketing these products, and cut through the clutter to reach the public with a strong, relevant message," says Helen Vollmer, president of Vollmer Public Relations in Houston. Recently, Vollmer became agency of record for Weider Nutrition International, a major supplier of vitamins and nutritional supplements.

- McGwire Brings Issue to Forefront -

Ironically, some of the strongest media opportunities for the industry have been the mixed reviews these supplements get, which can create a crisis situation. Take, for example, Mark McGwire and his record-breaking homerun streak. When a reporter broke the news that the St. Louis Cardinals’ slugger was taking androstenedione, a performance-enhancing supplement sold at retail stores, speculation raged about the supplement boosting his accomplishments.

But the controversy is catapulting Andro-Gen’s sales (the brand name of supplement McGwire is taking), according to David Jacobsen, president of Los Angeles-based Genetic Evolutionary Nutrition, which markets the product.

Since the McGwire story broke, the company has generated "several hundred-thousand dollars" in sales, according to Jacobsen. And Andro- Gen has received national media coverage from print and broadcast outlets, including The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, CNN, and TV shows like "Dateline" and "Extra." es the product may act like a prescription drug; or suggestions that the product should be used "as part of your diet when taking insulin to help maintain a healthy blood sugar level." (FDA, Ruth Welch, 202/205-4144) icized for being taken at unsafe levels, Miller DeMartine Group, a PR firm in New York, helped General Nutrition Companies (GNC), develop a relationship with the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA), a nonprofit for coaches and trainers. GNC cosponsored an NSCA survey, released last month, that found most professional, college and high school athletes are following the recommended dosage levels. This approach helped to position Creatine as a safe and effective supplement when used as part of an exercise regimen, says Greg Miller, with Miller DeMartine.

- Credible Tactics -

Now is a good time to flex your PR muscle with nutraceutical assignments because the journalistic tide is turning to more positive coverage, says Judith Lederman, president of JSL Publicity & Marketing, a marcom firm in Irvington, N.Y.

Since 1989, when Lederman launched her practice, her nutraceutical client base has grown 50 percent with companies like Hayward, Calif.-based BodyAmmo Nutraceuticals, manufacturers of energy-enhancing chewing gum and BioTherapies, a manufacturer of dietary supplements in Elmsford, N.Y.

And major national news outlets like Newsweek, The New York Times and CNN devote regular coverage to the nutraceutical industry and B- rolls are in high demand by TV stations, says Lederman.

Positioning credible nutraceutical experts is critical to get media and consumer buy-in for the "self-care" industry, Miller adds. GNC, for example, spends $80 million on marketing and PR. The company, based in Pittsburgh, sells its products through a retail network of 3,435 stores throughout the U.S.

"The media [often] doesn’t understand the segment or the various products within it. The nutraceutical industry is where healthcare was 10 years ago," says Miller. "Healthcare overcame its confusing image issues by making research data more accessible - which is what the self-care industry must do with coherent and credible campaigns."

Miller’s agency uses media symposiums, surveys and issue-oriented campaigns to support GNC’s wide range of vitamin and mineral supplements, sports nutrition and herbal products.

- FDA’s Restrictions on Nutraceuticals -

In April, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) clarified its position on the claims that can be made about dietary supplements, which are referred to as the "structure/function claims" under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. The act provides several marketing guidelines that include avoiding these claims:

The product has an effect on a specific disease or class of diseases. Prohibited claims: "Product X protects against the development of cancer," or "Product X reduces the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis." Allowable claims: "Product X helps promote urinary tract health," or "Product X helps maintain cardiovascular function."

The product is in a drug class that is intended to be used to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure or prevent a disease. Prohibited claims: referring to products as antibiotics, antiseptics, or antidepressants. Allowable claims: using words like "energizer" or "rejuvenative."

The product is a substitute for, or augmentation of, a drug or other medical therapy. Prohibited claims: product names like "Herbal Prozac" because it indicates the product may act like a prescription drug; or suggestions that the product should be used "as part of your diet when taking insulin to help maintain a healthy blood sugar level."


13. Herb Business News
Bayer: Introduces One-A-Day Herbal Blends

MORRIS TOWNSHIP, N.J., Sept. 21, PRNewswire -- Although ancient cultures have been using herbs like Ginkgo biloba and echinacea for thousands of years, up until recently a mention of herbs to the average American conjured up thoughts of oregano and basil.

Today, herbs are hotter than ever, but not everyone is ready to take the plunge. After all, it’s hard to know which herb does what. And it’s tough to make a choice in the sea of unrecognizable brands.

Bayer Corporation Consumer Care Division is changing all that with the introduction of new One-A-Day specialized blends. One-A-Day, a familiar name to everyone who takes vitamins, now is offering specialized blends of herbs, vitamins and minerals to help maintain and support good health.

With One-A-Day, consumers will no longer have to sort through a mind-boggling array of herbs, vitamins and minerals to figure out which ingredients to take. During the cold season, for example, a consumer might buy a vitamin C supplement, zinc tablets and some echinacea. Now that same consumer can just reach for One-A-Day’s Cold Season formula, which blends vitamin C, zinc and echinacea in one convenient formula.

In addition, One-A-Day’s herbal blends are standardized to ensure that each specialized blend contains a consistent percentage of all ingredients. "The standardization process is quite expensive and time consuming, but it helps us ensure that consumers will receive the highest quality herbal product possible every single time," said Jim Kindel, category director of nutritionals at Bayer.

Dr. Judith S. Stern, co-director of the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the University of California-Davis, says that standardization gives consumers quality and consistency. "The best option is a brand name you know and trust," she said.

One-A-Day’s specialized blends address seven major health benefits and include the following products:

-- Cold Season -- supports the body’s natural defenses with echinacea, vitamin C and zinc.

-- Tension & Mood -- helps promote a healthy emotional balance with St. John’s wort, Kava kava and B-vitamins.

-- Memory & Concentration -- helps support memory and concentration with Ginkgo biloba and B-vitamins

-- Bone Strength -- helps prevent bone loss with calcium, plus soy extracts and vitamin D to support bone health.

-- Cholesterol Health -- helps maintain healthy cholesterol with garlic and soy extracts.

-- Menopause Health -- helps support health and well-being during menopause with soy extracts and black cohosh.

-- Prostate Health -- supports prostate health with saw palmetto and zinc.

One-A-Day’s specialized blends now are available in food, drug and discount stores. The average retail price for each of the products is expected to be less than $10.

One-A-Day specialized blends are a product of the Bayer Corporation Consumer Care Division based in Morris Township, N.J. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Bayer Corporation is a research-based company with major businesses in health care and life sciences, chemicals and imaging technologies. Bayer Corporation is a member of the worldwide Bayer Group, a $32.4 billion chemical and pharmaceutical company based in Leverkusen, Germany.

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Covance: Testing Traditional Chinese Medicines for U.S. Market

BEIJING, Sept. 21, Xinhua -- China is promoting traditional Chinese medicine for Western markets with the help of a well-known international pharmaceutical company.

The U.S.’s Covance Inc. is testing two Chinese medicines for cardiovascular disease and will submit them for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

China has over 20,000 types of medicinal herbs and produces 500,000 types of Chinese medicines, but only a small portion of them are exported. Most medicines that China exports are in the form of raw materials and Chinese medicines now appear in the U.S. as food items.

Covance has signed an agreement with the China Innovation Center for Life Sciences (CICLS), a Chinese medicine promotion institute of the Ministry of Science and Technology to introduce traditional Chinese medicine to the U.S.

Covance Chairman and CEO Chris Kuebler says that Covance will become a bridge between the traditional Eastern approach to medicine and the rigorous standards of Western drug development.

Ma Yonghua, a CICLS official, says that because of various differences, it will take a lot of hard work and three to five years before westerners understand the benefits of the Chinese medicine.

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California Beverages: Energy Plus Herbal Drink Introduced

MORGAN HILL, Calif., Sept 10, Business Wire -- Energy Plus, the new organic drink from Organic Food Products, Inc. that combines energy, nutrition and taste, will be distributed throughout the Bay Area by California Beverages, one of the state’s foremost beverage distributors.

California Beverages, distributor for Coors, Heineken, Crystal Geyser and Snapple, will now carry Energy Plus to the Bay Area’s leading outlets. As the only organic energy drink on the market, Energy Plus is a strong addition to both the distributor’s and merchandisers’ selections of healthy beverages.

Energy Plus is the new "whole body" liquid refresher that blends organic and natural herbs, including ginseng and gingko, green tea (with vitamins, minerals and amino acids) and delicious organic juices. Ginseng and ginkgo are two herbs clinically proven to boost physical and mental energy. Recently sampled at the annual Wharf to Wharf Race in Santa Cruz, Energy Plus is proving to be popular among young, active adults.

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National Beverage: Unleashes VooDoo Rain Herbal Drinks

FORT LAUDERDALE, Sept 18, Business Wire -- National Beverage Corp. (AMEX:FIZ) has unleashed the magic and fun of VooDoo Rain(tm), a unique and exciting line of herbally enhanced beverages for the cool, younger consumer.

Introduced to the shelves of retail outlets this week, VooDoo Rain(tm) is an exciting combination of herbs, great tasting flavors...a little magic...and a lot of fun...resulting in the most unique, healthy refreshment alternative in today’s exploding market of "good-for-you" functional beverages. VooDoo Rain(tm) boasts striking colors, bold graphics, descriptive names and five great-tasting flavors: Jungle Ice (berry endurance drink); MoJo Luv (tropical passion punch); BrainBroo (orange think drink); Firefly Buzz (citrus energy drink); and Taboo Tea (herbal enhanced green tea).

Nick A. Caporella, chairman and chief executive officer of National Beverage, stated, "VooDoo Rain(tm) is unlike any other drink currently on the beverage shelf. Targeted toward young, health-conscious consumers, we developed VooDoo Rain(tm) to provide more than just great taste...it is a beverage that is oriented toward fun and the unusual taste of magic. It contains good-for-you herbs to fortify mind, body and soul. Each VooDoo Rain(tm) flavor delivers a different unique promise...to stimulate and help one’s endurance, passion, mental clarity, energy and relaxation. If our research and early market response is an indicator...we are going to be very pleased with the results of our VooDoo Rain(tm) brand," concluded Caporella.

National Beverage is a holding company for various operating subsidiaries that market, manufacture and distribute its full line of beverage products: Shasta(r), Faygo(r), and Big Shot(r), multi-flavored and cola soft drinks; Everfresh(r), a full line of juice and juice-enriched products; LaCROIX(r), ClearFruit(r), a Sante(r), Spree(r), and nuAnce(r), flavored carbonated and spring water products; and our specialty items, VooDoo Rain(tm), St. Nick’s(tm) and Creepy Coolers(tm). The company has 14 strategically located manufacturing facilities in the USA.

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Herbalife: Expands Into Indonesia

PITTSBURGH, Sept 17, Dow Jones -- Herbalife International Inc. (HERBA) formed a unit to offer its products in Indonesia, bringing to 38 the number of countries in which Herbalife products are available.

In a press release Thursday, the company said distributors in Indonesia will initially have access to seven core Herbalife products, with additional products to be available later.

Herbalife sells weight control products, food and dietary supplements and personal care products.

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Alta Natural: Hepatitis C Treatment Tests Expanded

RICHMOND, B.C., Sept 18, Canadian Corp News -- Initial results from HEPATICO give optimism to millions suffering from Hep-C.

Company President, Adolph Huckschlag, reports that the company is beginning to receive preliminary results from the testing of its Hepatitis-C treatment, HEPATICO. "The test results, which have been reviewed by Dr. David Khoupenia, Alta Natural’s Medical Co-ordinator, are very encouraging" according to Huckschlag.

"Our results are generally supporting the conclusions of the 17 clinical and pre-clinical trials done in Europe that HEPATICO is effective in normalizing human liver function in Hepatitis-C sufferers.", said Dr. Khoupenia. "We have documented substantial declines in liver enzyme counts in as little as 45 days of treatment with HEPATICO. Some participants have seen their Liver Function Test scores return to normal levels within 30 days. In addition, nearly all the patients are reporting decreased fatigue and an increased sense of well being; a sign that liver function is beginning to return to normal."

Commenting on the timing of the balance of the preliminary data Huckschlag said, "We expect the majority of our initial results to be in within the next two weeks".

Once Dr. David Khoupenia has had the opportunity to analyze and compare test results, the Company will announce their findings along with English-translated copies of the 17 previous trials at a press conference to be announced in early October of this year.

Due to overwhelming demand from Hepatitis-C sufferers from around the world, Alta Natural’s President announced that the Company will immediately expand its HEPATICO tests beyond the current 100 participant limit. Sufferers interested in participating should contact the Company. Participants are required to have full blood workings completed prior to starting the treatment as well as the knowledge and support of their general practitioner.

Following up on its commitment to shareholders, Alta Natural has begun the process to list for trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ Bulletin Board. The Company expects to complete these listings within the next six to nine months.

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Natrol: To Acquire Laci Le Beau Teas

CHATSWORTH, Calif., Sept 21, Business Wire -- Natrol Inc. (Nasdaq:NTOL), a manufacturer and distributor of nationally branded dietary supplements, Monday announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the assets and business of Laci Le Beau Corp. and certain related entities.

Laci Le Beau is a manufacturer and marketer of herbal teas that are sold through health food stores as well as food, drug and mass market retailers. The acquisition is expected to close Sept. 30, and is subject to customary closing conditions and approvals.

Laci Le Beau sales for the 12 months ended June 30, 1998 reached $7.2 million while Natrol sales during the same period amounted to $54.2 million.

"Herbal teas will immediately add more than 10% to our top-line growth while benefiting our shareholders through product diversification and earnings improvement," noted Elliott Balbert, Natrol’s president and chairman.

"We are extremely pleased to have this opportunity to enter the herbal tea category through the acquisition of Laci Le Beau," continued Balbert. "Herbal supplements represent a significant component of Natrol’s business. Being able to enter the herbal tea category with a name that carries the respect of Laci Le Beau is extremely exciting."


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