Richters HerbLetter

Date: 98/11/30
1. Canadian House of Commons Committee Recommends Overhaul of Natural Health Products Regulation
2. Cranberry’s Healing Powers Isolated
3. Kava Sales Intoxicating Fiji’s Farmers
4. Ethiopia Relies on Medicinal Plants for Primary Health Care
5. Herb Business News

1. Canadian House of Commons Committee Recommends Overhaul of Natural Health Products Regulation
By Conrad Richter

A Canadian House of Commons report recommends an overhaul of natural products regulation. The Standing Committee on Health, chaired by Joseph Volpe, released its final report to the Minister of Health containing 53 recommendations for revamping the way natural health products, including herbs and herbal products, are regulated in Canada.

After a year during which the Standing Committee heard from hundreds of stakeholders from industry, government, interest groups and the public, the Committee concluded that the 1952 Foods and Drug Act fails to adequately address the growing sale and use of natural health products. The Committee noted that while the Act is comprised of only 20 pages, there are over 500 pages of accompanying regulations which have never been subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

The report calls for the government to consider restructuring the Health Protection Branch, carving out a new regulatory authority for natural health products. The new directorate would be staffed by people agreeable to both the HPB and the industry, and it would be guided by an independent Expert Advisory Committee.

Among other key recommendations include permitting expanded health claims on packages, and broadening the range of evidence accepted for them, developing a system of monographs as a basis for product licensing, reviewing the Schedule A diseases for which no claims are presently permitted on herb products, and reviewing the HPB’s contentious proposals for Good Manufacturing Practices and for cost recovery. There are also calls for more consistent enforcement in the marketplace, the development of an appeal process, exemptions for medicines compounded specially by herbal practitioners and aboriginal healers for individual patients, and continuation of the personal importation rule that allows imports of unlicensed products.

Although the report contains recommendations which, if implemented, could lead to a radical restructuring of natural health product regulation in Canada, the Minister of Health, Allan Rock, is under no obligation to adopt any of the recommendations. Even if changes are implemented, there is no guarantee that the proposed new regulatory body would not be controlled by the same people who are running the present Foods and Therapeutic Products Directorates. There are many who are concerned by past bias shown by the HPB against herbs, and some suggest that the recommendations will lead to little real change.

[The entire report is available on the web at]

2. Cranberry’s Healing Powers Isolated
BOSTON, Oct. 20, Scripps Howard -- Scientists say they have isolated the compounds found in cranberries that seem to ward off urinary-tract infections.

Researchers from Rutgers University said in The New England Journal of Medicine that condensed tannins in cranberries prevent infections by stopping Escherichia coli bacteria from attaching to cells lining the urinary tract.

The bacteria are estimated to be responsible for 80 to 90 per cent of urinary infections.

Cranberry juice has long been promoted as a folk remedy for the infections, but only recently have researchers sought to confirm its value in helping to flush bacteria from the system.

3. Kava Sales Intoxicating Fiji’s Farmers
By Asha Lakhan

SUVA, Nov. 6, AFP -- Kava, the South Pacific’s traditional intoxicant for thousands of years, is reaping a bonanza for Fiji’s subsistence farmers as internnational food and pharmaceutical companies line up to buy all they can.

Spurned as "mud water" by colonizers for a century, kava is now sought as a base for health-food products in North America and Europe. China and India have also recently entered the market.

"The demand for it is explosive" said Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo, who began exporting kava this year.

Last year, the overseas market for kava stood at about $6-million (Fiji), (about $3-million U.S). This year, it has increased substantially and is expected to reach a record $30-million (Fiji) by December, Mr. Nawalowalo said.

He said that with proper government backing, he could boost national revenue from Kava exports to $300-million in three years, replacing sugar as the country’s main revenue earner.

Kava is derived from a plant of the pepper family, Piper methysticum, unique to the Pacific Islands. Islanders pound its roots to produce an unappetizing, greyish-looking liquid the taste of which some have likened to a peppery dishwater.

Kava is sought after in the developed world today as a relaxant for stressed urbanites. U.S Companies want it as a base for health-food products.

Fiji is vying with other Pacific islands such as Vanuatu ( which has been significant exporter of kava for several years), Tonga, Samoa, and the Wallis and Fotuna Islands for share of an expanding global market.

Mr. Nawalowalo believes there is enough demand for all to benefit. His own company struggles to supply a meagre 16 tonnes a week when the demand is for 100 tonnes a week.

That’s good news for subsistence farmers in the villages of the outer islands who have had no significant cash crop since the world price of copra took a tumble more than two decades ago.

"You must remember this [Kava] is grown by the subsistence farmer who is sitting in the village doing nothing but planting this stuff. At the most, he would have earned $5,000 a year from local sales," Mr. Nawalowalo said.

"Suddenly, he finds his income boosted to as much as $50,000 a year. They have so much money they don’t know what to do with it.

"They are setting up big three bedroom houses in the village, buying four-wheel-drives and trucks. You now find Fibreglas boats with 40-horsepower engines tied up at the banks."

The boost in kava exports has also provided much-needed employment in a depressed economy for carting, washing, sorting and grading the kava roots and chips.

The plan now is to expand kava farming by setting up big commerial farms, research centres and nurseries, with government help.

Currently, kava is fetching anything from $30,000 to $50,000 (Fiji) a tonne, but Pacific Islanders believe it should be even higher, considering the present boom in herbal products.

3. Ethiopia Relies on Medicinal Plants for Primary Health Care
By Ghion Hagos

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Nov. 25, PANA -- Some 600 of an estimated 7,000 plant species in Ethiopia are known to have "traditional" medicinal values, according to the director of the country’s Biodiversity Conservation and Research Institute, Abebe Demissie.

He said a recent study had established that some 45 million people in rural Ethiopia depend on these "traditionally recognized" medicinal plants for primary health care.

He was speaking last week at the opening an international workshop on "industrial exploitation of medicinal and aromatic plants in East Africa," attended by some 60 participants.

Abebe said that this herbal-based traditional health care system was both "viable and culturally integrated" for the large segment of Ethiopia’s population. He added that this was expected to continue in the future, augmenting the primary health care service which is yet to reach the entire country.

The institute, located in the town of Ambo, 125 km west of Addis Ababa, undertakes studies on plant species in the country for documentation, conservation and sustainable utilization of plants in general as well as those with medicinal and aromatic values.

Ethiopia’s trade and industry vice-minister, Brook Debebe, underlined the need for "strict conservation and domestication measures of plant genetic resources in East Africa."

To this end, he pointed out the prevailing problem in the sub-region related to ecological degradation and population explosion.

3. Herb Business News
Pharmaprint: Eyes Herbal Drug Market Lead With Dosage Guarantee

By Amy Hughes

NEW YORK, Dow Jones, Nov. 25 -- Pharmaprint Inc. (PPRT) hopes to lead the dietary supplement market with its standardized method of guaranteeing herbal drug dosages, said Chairman and Chief Executive, Elliot Friedman.

"For the first time consumers are going to get guaranteed bio-actives in every dose," Friedman said in a CNBC interview Wednesday. "With the Pharmaprint process we are able to determine which plants have active ingredients and which plants don’t."

Jointly marketed under American Home Products Inc.’s (AHP) Centrum line of dietary supplements, Pharmaprint’s herbal remedies will have consumer name recognition and trust, Friedman said.

"We are out with one of the true and great brand names, Centrum," he said.

Friedman said the company is currently profitable and he expects it will continue to turn a profit going forward.

Irwin Naturals/4Health: Plans to Establish Internet Health Portal

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 25, Business Wire -- Irwin Naturals/4Health, Inc. (Nasdaq NMS:HHHH) today announced plans to launch a new Internet division, HealthZone.Com, a health-related e-commerce and information portal. The Company has recently executed agreements with internet search engines Lycos and HotBot to take part in various on-line strategies in support of HealthZone.Com. The Company also anticipates making additional announcements with regard to agreements with other Internet company partners in the near future.

Said Irwin Naturals Chief Executive Officer, Klee Irwin: "After several months of consolidation following our merger, the Company’s core business is now well positioned for growth under a strong management team that includes our recently appointed president Louis Mancini. As a result, today we are able to make this very exciting announcement about the new HealthZone.Com division and our aggressive business plans to build this Internet portal into the leading on-line source for a full range of products and services sought out by on-line natural health and nutrition enthusiasts and consumers."

The full marketing plan and the debut of HealthZone.Com are scheduled for roll out by the end of the first quarter of 1999. The Company also expects to acquire or align itself with a wholesale, direct-to-consumer distributor and expects to offer thousands of health and supplement products with superior pricing and distribution models as compared to other on-line competitors. Hence, the Company intends to become the leading on-line marketer, retailer and distributor of such products, as well as for related premium information services. HealthZone.Com will generate revenue through numerous streams, including e-commerce, traditional and innovative web site advertising methods, premium information content, subscription-based specialty newsletters and other unique services.

Irwin explained further: "HealthZone.Com will allow people from around the globe to find the lowest prices and largest selection of health-related products, information and services. Our plans are to feature engaging, interactive content and value-added services, which will distinguish HealthZone.Com as a state-of-the-art innovative site, attracting heavy web-user traffic and on-line consumers who we expect will return again and again."

The Company also said that it is currently evaluating a number of additional opportunities for establishing strategic alliances with other leading internet-based service companies to support its future Internet-based operations. According to Irwin, after its June merger, the Irwin Naturals/4Health Board of Directors finalized an Internet strategy for the launch of HealthZone.Com. In so doing, he said that the Board consulted frequently with Board member and CDNow/N2K Chairman Jon Diamond, as well as with other key management and an Internet Advisory Team.

Irwin concluded, saying: "The market for nutritional products and self-managed health is booming. Consumers are hungry for new sources of information, and as marketers, this represents huge on-line retail potential as well as innovation opportunities for significantly expanding e-commerce. Amazon and CDNow/N2K have captured the consumers’ mindshare for books and CDs. But the number-one brand space for health-related information e-commerce is still up for grabs.

"The Internet is the ideal vehicle to sell nutritional supplements and health products. Shipping is cost-effective. Consumers need extensive information prior to making purchase decisions. And supplements are one of the only products where consumers will agree to a monthly automated shipment program. We believe that as a publicly traded company in this industry, we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of these factors and move aggressively into the on-line business arena as a major force."

Irwin Naturals/4Health, Inc. is a leading formulator and supplier of natural health, herbal and nutritional supplement products for consumers. Its product lines include popular brand name market leaders such as Irwin Naturals, Nature’s Secret(R), System-Six, Harmony Formulas(R), Dr. Linus Pauling Vitamins, 4Health(TM), and the 151 Bar. The Company’s products are sold through mass retail and specialty natural health, nutrition and food retail stores worldwide.

==== Announces New Marketing Strategy

ACTON, Mass., Nov. 24, BW HealthWire --, the leading online vendor and content provider for vitamins, supplements, minerals and herbs, has announced the first step in a new marketing plan to strategically and successfully guide the website into the next millennium.

The company announced that Sharon L. Rice has been appointed Vice President of Marketing. Rice, a former Citibank marketing executive, has selected the marketing team, gathering top leaders in the communications industry, including Cyrk-Simon Worldwide, who will provide integrated marketing; Neil Faber Media/NexGen Media Inc., who will do the media planning and buying; and Ruder Finn, for public relations. The first step in the aggressive marketing plan is a $1 million vitamin giveaway for customers.

"Sharon Rice brings a wealth of experience in consumer marketing to," said Michael Barach, president and CEO of "Over the next few months, we will be rolling out an aggressive and innovative marketing plan, as evidenced by the $1 million promotion currently underway, which highlights our commitment to redefining the online shopping experience by offering our customers the largest selection of natural products, information and alternative health solutions." plans to strengthen it position as the leading online site for the vitamin, supplement and mineral (VSM) market. The marketing strategy will reinvent the VSM shopping experience, as well as expand the brand personality has built over the last three years as a virtual store and credible source of VSM products.

"With a marketing budget of over $7 million and a team of professionals well-versed in both online and offline marketing activities, media and promotions, will grow rapidly in this expanding field," said Rice. "For starters, we plan to target the top four `wired’ cities in the U.S., which are, not surprisingly, the cities with the highest consumption rate of vitamins and supplements."

Promotional efforts will target key influence groups and attract the growing market of Internet-savvy, healthy lifestyle consumers. The first such promotion involves a $1 million giveaway in the form of $20 coupons toward the purchase of’s brand of vitamins and supplements. New users to can visit the web site, register for the $20 coupon and choose from a wide variety of products. The company anticipates rolling out additional innovative promotions and activities in the next several months.

- About - has been doing business on the Internet since 1995 and is the leading online retailer of vitamins, supplements, minerals, and other natural products, with a selection of over 30,000 items, or seven times the assortment of a natural products store. is also a leading provider of health information on the Internet, with personalized information delivery and contributions from a panel of medical experts. The company maintains its corporate office in Acton, MA and a distribution center in Southampton, PA.

Cyclopss: Joint Venture to Market Disinfection Technology for Herbs

SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 24, Business Wire -- Cyclopss Corp. (OTC BB:OZON) Tuesday announced the formation of a joint venture between its wholly owned subsidiary Eco-Pure Food Safety Systems, and The LDI Group.

The venture will develop and market Eco-Pure Food Safety Systems to the $25 billion dollar a year markets of dietary supplements, phytomedicines and organic foods and beverages.

The LDI Group has over 18 years experience in consulting to, and advising these rapidly growing markets. Loren Israelsen, president of The LDI Group, has served as president of Nature’s Way Products Inc., vice president of the American Herbal Products Association, as well as serving as an industry advisor to the FDA’s Office of Dietary Supplements.

"The opportunity to introduce this highly effective, and environmentally sound disinfection technology to industries that are already committed to issues that affect our quality of life is very exciting," said Israelsen, "We firmly believe that incorporating the Eco-Pure Systems into the production of these natural herbal and organic products will further enhance the benefits already experienced by their consumers."

Eco-Pure Food Safety Systems use ozone which is one of the most aggressive anti-microbial oxidants known to man. Ozone kills Ecoli over 3,000 times faster than chlorine, leaving no chemical residual behind on the product and reverts naturally into oxygen.

Cyclopss is one the leading developers of ozone applications and technologies for industry.

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