Richters HerbLetter


Date: 99/06/30
Contents
1. Tempest in a Herbal Teapot; New Office of Natural Health Products Caught in Crossfire
2. British Columbia Recognizes Chinese Cures; Ancient Herbal Remedies Likely to Be Covered Eventually
3. Doctors Press for Tighter Laws on Dietary Supplements
4. Herbs Reported to be Effective against Cancer, Conference
5. Herbs a Great Help to Menopausal Women, Conference
6. U.S. Manufacturers Offer Candy Made with Herbs and Vitamins
7. Plant Diversity at Risk from Herbal Medicine Boom
8. Coneflower Poachers Assault Public Lands
9. Oregon Grape Topical Skin Treatment Approved by Health Canada
10. Studies Show Chinese Cordyceps is Effective in Increasing Energy
11. Northern Rivers Region of Australia to Become Herbal Medicine Capital
12. Vietnam Sniffs Out Niche in World Spice Trade
13. Tibetan Medicine Wins Wide Recognition
14. China’s First Tibetan Medicine Group Founded
15. Chinese City is Centre for Wild Forest-Harvested Vegetables and Herbs
16. Congolese Women Treat Genital Infections With Herbs
17. Congolese Minister Encourages Traditional Medicine in Hospitals
18. Potentilla: Attractive Garden Flower and Herb
19. Herb Business News

1. Tempest in a Herbal Teapot; New Office of Natural Health Products Caught in Crossfire
By Conrad Richter

GOODWOOD, June 30 -- When Health Minister Allan Rock accepted a parlimentary committee’s 53 recommendations to change the regulation of natural health products in Canada, he probably did not expect to be the target of a new public pressure campaign launched by activists.

Chief among the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Health is the creation of a new Office of Natural Health Products which is to take over the administration of herbal medicines and dietary supplements from the food and drugs directorates of the Health Protection Branch. A transition team has been formed to develop lines of authority for the ONHP and for the advisory committee that will develop the regulations and policies.

The establishment of the ONHP is the culmination of a two year campaign to force the creation of a "third category" between the food and drugs categories presently used to classify natural health products. The campaign was spearheaded by the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA), an industry group, and by the Canadian Coalition for Health Freedom (CCHF), a lobby group with industry, professional, and consumer backing.

Now, Citizens’ Choice for Health Rights (CCHR) has launched a new campaign to stop the creation of the ONHP. The group claims that the ONHP is not what the citizens of Canada want, rather it’s what industry wants. In a protest letter directed to Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Minister Rock, the group says that herbs and dietary supplements should be regulated as foods with only "minimal modifications" needed to make the current regulations palatable to industry. The letter charges that the 53 recommendations of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Health are "pro-industry" and will not ensure that products are properly tested.

A variety of health freedom groups harbour similar concerns about the creation of the ONHP. The Health Action Network Society is suspicious of the new initiative, claiming that big multinational drug companies are behind the CHFA, CCHF and the "third category" as part of a secret plan to take over the natural health products industry.

Donna Herringer, president of the CHFA, denied charges her organization represents the secret interests of the pharmaceutical giants at a health forum in Vancouver put on by the Health Action Network Society in April. Herringer said the CHFA recently changed its mission to support the interests of traditional health food store retailers, not of suppliers and manufacturers.

While the CHFA supports the overall thrust of Standing Committee’s report and the move to create the ONHP, Herringer vowed her organization will fight for changes to some recommendations. She said the requirement that all products be pre-approved by the ONHP before going to market is "completely unacceptable" and "will lead to bureaucratic delays." In addition, the CHFA will fight to prevent the Therapeutic Products Directorate from reclassifying products as ‘new drugs’, a policy that effectively removed many herbs and dietary supplements from the market in the past because of the high cost of conducting studies necessary for approval.

With the CHFA changing its focus to serve the health food retailers, natural health product suppliers and manufacturers are forming their own organization. According to a fax from an ad hoc committee, a new trade association is needed "provide a constant voice" during the implementation of the ONHP. The new group will seek "to lead the industry in developing standards that are appropriate, safe, fair, and reasonable," and "to create a regulatory framework that will allow the NHP industry to create a culture that fosters growth and respect."

The Citizens’ Choice for Health Rights campaign to stop the ‘third category’ and get natural health products regulated as foods, represents a view that persists from before the parliamentary review. The activist group, Freedom of Choice in Health Care, as well as prominant health commentators, Dr Zoltan Rona and David Rowland, have pressed for the food option. In 1997 the FCHC launched a lawsuit challenging the government’s right to regulate natural health products in an attempt to stop the HPB juggernaut that was increasingly treating herbs and dietary supplements as drugs.

Suzanne Harris, an American investigative journalist and retired lawyer with a special interest in natural health product regulation, is skeptical the new ONHP will work in the interests of consumers who want access to natural health products. "I don’t think you will get anything good out of [the Standing Committee of Health’s report] no matter how hard you try," she said in April at the Vancouver public forum. The Standing Committee’s recommendations "hand back to HPB -- the very people who have been torturing you all along -- the ultimate control over the establishment and implementation of any new regulations," she told an audience of several hundred. She said the ONHP will still be responsible to the HPB ultimately.

According to Harris, the Standing Committee’s recommendations give too much power to the bureaucrats because little is defined in the report, leaving most of the rules likely to be established by extra-parliamentary regulation. For example, Harris contends that the lack of a definition for natural health products leaves regulation open to the same abuses the HPB was accused of. Another concern is the report’s suggestion that the "personal use" exemption for imported products could be ended.

South African herbalist Anthony Rees warns that Canadians could fall into the same trap his country fell into when natural health products regulation was revamped a few years ago. "I do not want to see Canada go down the same route as us. I do not want you to be sitting with only 30% of health products left on the market after the ‘third category’ is implemented," he said at the Vancouver public forum. In South Africa a constitutional challenge is expected to be launched armed with a million dollar war chest to strike down the new overly restrictive regulations, Rees said.

As opposition from the ‘pro herb’ lobby grows, the ONHP is taking shots from the ‘anti herb’ lobby also. ‘Anti herb’ concerns centre on traditional safety, quality and efficacy issues, and on the fear that an "industry-dominated" transition team will create an ONHP that will not adequately protect the public.

In an article in the Globe and Mail yesterday Dr Miriam Shuchman suggested that Canada is following the path of the United States and its 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. The DSHEA forced the Food and Drug Administration to take a back seat while the herbs and dietary supplements industry exploded virtually unregulated. Pharmacist Meera Thadani worries that the ONHP will lack scientific underpinnings and may simply loosen regulations. Bruce Silverglade, legal director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer group based in Washington and Ottawa, worries that an industry-dominated ONHP will let harmful natural products such as ma huang on the market. Ma huang has caused more than 15 deaths in the U.S., he says.


2. British Columbia Recognizes Chinese Cures; Ancient Herbal Remedies Likely to Be Covered Eventually
By Robert Matas

VANCOUVER, June 22, Globe and Mail -- British Columbia has become the first province in [Canada] to recognize traditional Chinese medicines as legitimate medical treatments.

Premier Glen Clark announced yesterday that the province is creating a new college of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Practitioners of British Columbia to regulate the therapies and licence acupuncturists.

"Not too long from now, you will be able to go to a TCM [traditional Chinese medicine] practitioner for a prescription and take it to a herbal pharmacy to be filled," said Vancouver lawyer Mason Loh, who has been appointed to head the new college.

Herbal medicines and acupuncture will be available in the province only from qualified practitioners who are approved by the college, Mr. Loh said yesterday in an interview. "From a public safety point of view, this is very significant," he said.

B.C. currently has about 700 acupuncturists and about 500 also prescibe herbal remedies. An additional 200 people in B.C. prescribe herbal medicines without using acupuncture.

The new regulations do not involve any government funding and the services are not covered by the provincial medical services plan. But Mr. Clark said he expected the government to cover the Chinese therapies once the field is properly regulated.

He said the government has not yet discussed whether the therapies should be covered. "I think at the end of the day, the more emphasis we can put on wellness, the more money we save in our acute-care sickness model," Mr. Clark said.

A spokesman for the B.C. Medical Association, Dr. Brian Dixon-Warren, said he was pleased that practitioners would be regulated but he was concerned that the regulatory body only includes "true believers" and does not include people with traditional academic and research credentials.


3. Doctors Press for Tighter Laws on Dietary Supplements
By Brenda C. Coleman

CHICAGO, June 22, AP -- A delegation of doctors is asking the American Medical Association to seek a stronger federal law on dietary supplements that promise everything from banishing cellulite to boosting brain power.

"You’re seeing doctors continuing to be frustrated by this," said Dr. Ronald M. Davis, a member of the AMA’s Council on Scientific Affairs, after speaking at the organization’s annual policymaking convention on Monday.

"Patients are asking about these products," he said. "Patients are using these products and not telling the doctor about them. They have unclear, unproven efficacy; no government regulation; and now big pharmaceutical companies are getting into the act, and there’s massive advertising."

The AMA enacted such a policy six months ago at its winter meeting, but doctors on Monday said the AMA needs to put teeth into the policy. A vote on the issue could come this week.

Under the current law, dietary supplements -- often used for medicinal purposes such as garlic for heart benefits and St. John’s wort to relieve depression -- are allowed to be marketed without the prior approval required of drugs. But they are prohibited from making health claims.

"We’re putting out a lot of medications out there that have no standards," said Dr. Richard A. Beach of Pensacola, Fla., a board member of the American Society of Addictions Medicine. He was referring to dietary supplements.

"St. John’s wort has been shown to be very effective for depression," he said in an interview after addressing the group. But he recalled a study in Florida of 13 large pharmacies showing that their brand names of St. John’s wort contained anywhere from 5 percent to 250 percent of the amount of active ingredient claimed on the label.

Dr. Judy Linger, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Lexington, Ky., testified about a woman she saw who had a seizure as a result of taking St. John’s wort along with a prescription antidepressant. The woman was taking three prescription drugs and about 25 over-the-counter dietary supplements, mostly to lose weight, Linger said.

"I would like to see the AMA work with the federal government to create accountability in the companies that are producing these products, and with the FDA, to have them regulate them as real drugs, because so many of them do contain active ingredients," Linger said.

Davis singled out Cellasene, which is marketed for reducing cellulite. He displayed a full-page newspaper ad that touted the product as "the safe, clinically studied dietary supplement with natural herbal extracts that helps reduce cellulite."

Then, he pointed to a footnote on the ad that said the statements had not been evaluated by the FDA and the product is not meant to treat, cure or prevent disease.

"To make a health claim in the headline, and then to say we’re not really making a health claim is disingenuous, at best, and outrageous and needful of immediate remedy by the federal government and the FDA," he said.

The day after the ad ran, the Italian manufacturer of Cellasene, Medestea Internazional, released studies it said backed the assertions about the supplement’s effectiveness. It claimed Italian studies, using several dozen women, demonstrated that women could reduce their hip and thigh circumference within eight weeks of treatment.

Executives at Rexall Sundown Inc., the U.S. distributor of Cellasene, were not available for comment, said company spokeswoman Lisa Givens.


4. Herbs Reported to be Effective against Cancer, Conference
WASHINGTON, June 18, U.S. Newswire -- The Center for Mind-Body Medicine recently concluded "Comprehensive Cancer Care II: Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies," its second national conference.

More than 900 oncologists, physicians from other specialties, researchers, nurses, caregivers, people with cancer and cancer survivors met from June 11-13 in Arlington, Va., and heard 130 presenters discuss the latest developments in the treatment of cancer.

Dr. James Gordon, director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine and a leading authority on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) said, "The future of the field of cancer care is in the integration of conventional treatment with new complementary therapies that are working. Patients are using many different treatments in combination, some traditional and recommended by their doctors and some not. The medical community is beginning to acknowledge this reality and wants to understand its many dimensions. They want to know what works and how a truly integrated and effective program can be developed for each patient."

The conference, co-sponsored by both the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), is unique in that it presents the newest (and sometimes controversial) alternative and complementary therapies for evaluation by mainstream oncologists and researchers. Approaches that look most promising are widely disseminated and some may attract interest in funding for further research. As just one example, a clinical trial testing the work of Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, whose regimen of highly individualized dietary changes, pancreatic enzymes and detoxification have significantly prolonged the lives of people with pancreatic cancer, was supported by a grant of 1.4 million from NCI after they first were presented his work at the first Comprehensive Cancer Care conference.

Other important points made at the conference:

-- Herbal therapies developed by Sophie Chen, Ph.D., and Alexander Sun, M.D., have demonstrated significant effects in the treatment of prostate and lung cancer.

-- New models for helping patients and clinicians design individualized programs for integrative care were presented.

-- U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) both expressed renewed commitment to increasing funding for the investigation of CAM therapies.

-- Representatives of Comprehensive Cancer Centers around the country agreed to meet on an ongoing basis to share information on the establishment and integration of CAM programs. Keith Block, M.D., and others presented promising data from the most developed programs of integrative care.

Cancer patients everywhere are demanding more information about treatments that will prolong and improve their lives. Many of those treatments are outside the traditional medical mainstream. This annual conference will continue to be the prime national forum for presenting and initially reviewing these new treatments and developing plans to integrate their use.


5. Herbs a Great Help to Menopausal Women, Conference
LISMORE, Australia, June 18, AAP -- Using herbs to treat the effects of menopause was a golden opportunity for herbal medicine to merge into the health care mainstream, a conference was told today.

Lise Alschuler told delegates at the Herbal Medicine Into The New Millennium conference at Southern Cross University that more women were questioning the safety and efficacy of standard medical treatment.

She said there seemed to be a greater acceptance of alternative and complementary health care, with herbal medicine being at the forefront.

Herbal remedies that offered a range of alternatives to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) included black cohosh, which could reduce hot flushes, liquorice root, which augmented the levels of menopausal estrogen, and dong quai, which exerted strong phytoestrogenic effects.

"Treating menopause with herbs is a golden opportunity for herbal medicine to merge into the health care system as a viable and successful strategy," said Ms Alschuler, who lectures at the Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington state.

She said there were no known or observed increased risks of breast cancer or endometrial cancer with plant phytoestrogens, as was the case with HRT.

"Women now have many options for managing their menopausal symptoms," Ms Alschuler said.

"Every woman should educate herself about her body’s changes and, with the help of a qualified practitioner, evaluate her risks for health problems associated with menopause."


6. U.S. Manufacturers Offer Candy Made with Herbs and Vitamins
By Emily Kaiser

CHICAGO, June 22, Reuters -- Care for a chocolate bar that promotes Middle East peace? How about a stick of vitamin-packed chewing gum?

For most people, sweets are a guilty pleasure, but a handful of U.S. confectioners are marketing candy with a conscience to a generation of health- and environment-minded Americans.

At an annual candy show here Tuesday, PeaceWorks introduced WAFA chocolate bars, which are made by a coalition of Arabs and Israelis who hope to promote peace through business. Ten percent of the proceeds go to Seeds of Peace, which teaches young people about peaceful coexistence.

The Endangered Species Chocolate Co., based in Talent, Oregon, donates 25 percent of its profits to environmental causes such as American Forests, which plans to plant 20 million trees by 2000.

The company also makes Bug Bites organic chocolate, complete with collectible insect trading cards that show how organic farming and helpful insects can replace chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

"With their attractive wrappers, high quality gourmet Belgian chocolate and cause-related appeal, the Endangered Species Chocolate Bars will greatly satisfy your customer’s taste and their conscience in a single bite," the company boasts on its order forms.

For those hoping to clean up the environment inside their bodies, there’s SmokersGuard mints with vitamin C and "antioxidant granules" that claim to eliminate smoker’s breath and promote a healthy mouth and body. The health claims have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Herbal and organic candy was a common theme as confectioners bet that aging baby boomers would feed demand for grown-up candy packed with vitamins and herbs.

"In the past, products were fortified to prevent nutritional deficiencies; these days they’re being fortified to help ward off chronic diseases," Susan Smith, senior vice president of public affairs for the National Confectioners Association, said in a statement.

Offerings included hard candies with herbs such as ginger and bear-shaped lollipops containing children’s sore throat remedies.

The idea of vitamin-enhanced candy raised some eyebrows among nutritionists, who said fruits, vegetables and other foods offered more health benefits than vitamins. Sandy Procter of Kansas State University said scientists did not yet know enough to pack all the required nutrients into a handy pill.

"Candy and nutrition to me seem like an oxymoron," she said. "If it is possible, we recommend that you get your nutrition from a food source."


7. Plant Diversity at Risk from Herbal Medicine Boom
By Rada Rouse

BRISBANE, June 14, AAP -- The soaring popularity of herbal medicine may threaten the survival of some plant species, a leading herbalist said today.

Andrew Pengelly, vice-president of the National Herbalist Association of Australia, said the impact of wild harvesting was a concern for indigenous people and for the industry.

Consumers should be informed whether imported herbs originated from cultivation or were plucked from the wild so they could make ethical choices, he said.

"The greatest issue facing the herb industry is the future supply of plant materials for the ever-increasing market," Mr Pengelly said on the first day of National Herbal Medicine Week.

"In the United States people have ripped out huge tracts of wild plants just to make a quick buck, and we are concerned that it could happen here."

Visiting expert on "living pharmaceuticals", Dr Jim Duke, confirms that the demand for herbs such as Golden Seal and Black Cohosh has put them on the endangered species list in the US.

Dr Duke, a retired government agricultural scientist and herb industry consultant, said some states of the US have had to legislate against wild harvesting.

On the other hand, interest in natural remedies may lead to weeds being put to good use: it’s been discovered that a major north American pest - kudcu - contains the same isoflavones as the massively popular Australian red clover menopause product Promensil.

Mr Pengelly said new legislation being drafted in New South Wales to license the removal of native flora in the wake of the growing popularity of bush foods may save plants such as the Dorrigo pepper - a spicy plant with antifungal properties.

Traditional healer Carol Bissett, from the Maaiangal (Maaiangal) Aboriginal Heritage group in the Hunter Valley, said indigenous people had already come under pressure from pharmaceutical interests which wanted to exploit their knowledge of anti-cancer remedies.

"I’m concerned not only about preserving our heritage but our plant and animal habitat," she said.

Aboriginal people had been ripped off by bush food enthusiasts who paid them a pittance to "pick wattle seeds" for lucrative gourmet products.

"We want to control our medicinal secrets because we know which parts of the plant to use, whether to take the young plant or the mature plant, and we don’t know whether other people will be careful about harvesting to keep a balanced ecosystem," she said.

Howard Rubin, from the Organic Herb Growers of Australia, which represents 650 growers, said negotiations with Aboriginal people may produce a herbal industry based on commercial growing of native plants.


8. Coneflower Poachers Assault Public Lands
By Ron Wilson

BISMARCK, North Dakota, June 22, Bismarck Tribune -- Conservationists weren’t foolish enough to believe that a new law assessing huge fines for purple coneflower poaching would persuade poachers to look for new lines of work.

And they were right.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday that poachers have raided two federal waterfowl production areas in Wells and Stutsman counties, digging up an undetermined number of native coneflowers. Left behind as evidence were a number of holes with the dirt tossed to the side.

"This is really frustrating because we have so few remaining tracts of native prairie left, and now someone has come and stolen a major component of that prairie," said Mick Erickson, coordinator of the Chase Lake Prairie Project for the USFWS. "If poachers hit one WPA in Stutsman and one in Wells, I can assume they have already combed the others."

It’s only a guess, but Erickson said it appeared from the holes left behind that 100 plants were dug from one WPA alone.

"All I found was one plant left behind," he said of the WPA in Wells County.

The purple coneflower, or echinacea, root is used to make a top-selling herbal medicine for colds, flu and the like. Its roots, in the past, have brought sellers more than $16 per pound in North Dakota.

Removing the plant from public property has long been illegal, and this year a law was passed to fine poachers up to $10,000 for unauthorized digging on private lands.

In 1998, coneflower digging was reported in 14 North Dakota counties.

Karen Kreil, a coneflower proponent and biologist with the USFWS in Bismarck, said it was only a matter of time until poachers moved onto USFWS property.

"It just makes you wonder if it’s more extensive than we realize," she said. "I sure hope not."

Erickson said the coneflower stands hit by poachers were off the beaten track. The results of the illegal activity were found during routine land management activities.

"I’d like to have trust in people to protect the integrity of our native wildlands," Erickson said. "I guess that I can’t be too surprised. But I am disappointed."

The poaching on the waterfowl areas also brings up some safety concerns, said Mike McEnroe, USFWS biologist in Bismarck.

"Hunters, bird watchers, photographers and others use these public lands regularly, and we’re concerned that innocent people could get injured or stumble upon poachers and find themselves in a difficult situation."

McEnroe urged citizens to report these kinds of activities to a local law enforcement agency.


9. Oregon Grape Topical Skin Treatment Approved by Health Canada
TORONTO, June 24, Business Wire -- Eight million North Americans suffering from psoriasis, eczema and other dry skin conditions have a new kind of relief in the form of a topical skin treatment.

A remedy used by native North Americans to treat skin diseases has proven so effective that Health Canada has granted a drug approval to Prime Pharmaceutical Corp., a Canadian manufacturer. The remedy is derived from a two metre high bush with yellow buds that grows in the forests of the Canadian and American Pacific North West. The Mahonia Aquifolium, or Oregon Grape, is part of the sour thorn family. Known for centuries to native Canadians, it is a powerful herb whose root and bark yield alkaloids that relieve the effects of psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, dandruff and other skin conditions. Mahonia Aquifolium is gentle yet very effective without any of the side effects of steroids or harsh chemicals. Researchers have learned that these alkaloids are strong antimicrobial and antifungal agents that inhibit abnormal skin growth. In its most chronic form, psoriasis can be painful and sometimes fatal. The remedies for this embarrassing disease can even be more damaging.

Where the average human’s skin cells renew themselves once every 28 days, the skin of a person affected by psoriasis renews itself once every three or four days. This results in an unsightly, painful and incurable condition. This condition has been treated with ultraviolet light, lotions and creams derived from tar or containing steroids. Long-term use of these treatments has been known to produce serious side effects ranging from advanced osteoporosis, high blood pressure, liver and kidney abnormalities, hair loss, severe gingivitis necessitating tooth extraction and fetal malformation.

In clinical tests in both Europe and North America, no side effects from Mahonia Aquifolium have been observed. In clinical testing in Germany of 433 men and women with psoriasis, researchers used a cream containing Mahonia Aquifolium on the affected area. And 81 percent of those tested found their symptoms to disappear or be substantially alleviated within 12 weeks.

"Any product that allows for avoidance of steroids has a desirable aspect to it immediately," stated Howard F. Donsky, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., one of North America’s most distinguished dermatologists. After close observation of the German research and other clinical tests, Donsky began testing the cream with Mahonia Aquifolium including Primaderm on 30 of his patients who suffered from psoriasis. None of them have experienced side effects or irritations. Twenty-five of them reported results as good as or better than one of the most widely used prescriptive steroids.

Medical practitioners should now investigate holistic remedies that have many advantages over steroids and harsh chemicals in treating psoriasis and other diseases.


10. Studies Show Chinese Cordyceps is Effective in Increasing Energy
SAN FRANCISCO, June 10, PRNewswire -- Recent studies presented at the 46th annual meeting of The American College of Sports Medicine(SM) in Seattle show that the Pharmanex(R) dietary supplement CordyMax Cs-4(TM), derived from the rare Tibetan mushroom Cordyceps sinensis, can play a significant role in increasing energy levels and aerobic capacity. Conducted in China, the studies were devised by Christopher B. Cooper, M.D., professor of medicine and physiology of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine.

The traditional Chinese herb Cordyceps sinensis, native to the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, has been advocated for centuries to reduce fatigue, support healthy lung function and promote stamina and vitality. CordyMax Cs-4, is a specific, patent-pending proprietary strain of Cordyceps sinensis that most closely resembles the natural product found on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau. The strain has been developed after 15 years of combined research efforts by the Institute of Materia Medica and Pharmanex, Inc.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, CordyMax Cs-4’s effects were tested on 30 healthy, elderly subjects randomly assigned to receive three grams a day of either CordyMax Cs-4 or identical placebo capsules. Exercise performance was tested before and after six weeks of treatment using a symptom-limited, incremental work rate protocol on a cycle ergometer. Those subjects taking CordyMax Cs-4 during the six-week trial significantly increased maximum oxygen uptake from 1.88 to 2.00 liters per minute -- those taking the placebo exhibited no change in performance.

"These findings support the belief held in China that Cordyceps sinensis has potential for improving exercise capacity and resistance to fatigue," said Dr. Cooper. "The results compliment other studies which have shown increased cellular energy levels through the use of CordyMax Cs-4(TM). Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Chinese government has protected the Cs-4 strain as a national treasure."

The mushroom Cordyceps sinensis, which produces the proprietary active ingredient in CordyMax Cs-4, has a rich two thousand-year history. For generations, Cordyceps sinensis has been considered the premier agent in the Chinese culture for restoring energy, promoting longevity and improving the quality of life. This natural material is extremely rare. The mushroom grows primarily on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau at altitudes above 14,000 feet. It takes five to seven years for the mushroom to complete its life cycle and produce the natural product. Due to the scarcity and high price of Cordyceps sinensis, its use was reserved exclusively for the Emperor’s Palace. For two thousand years, Cordyceps sinensis was virtually unknown to the Western world.

CordyMax Cs-4 is a standardized natural product produced by a proprietary fermentation process using an isolated, scientifically-supported strain of mycelia (Paecilomyces hepiali Chen, Cs-4). Cs-4 mycelia (the underground portion of the mushroom) is extracted from fresh Cordyceps sinensis collected from the Qinghai province, China.

In 1987, Cs-4 was the first "Class I" Traditional Chinese Medicine approved by the Chinese ministry of Health. "Class I" Traditional Chinese medicines are rigorously evaluated for safety and efficacy in pharmacology, toxicology and clinical trials. Cs-4 (known as Jin Shui Bao) was also placed under intellectual property protection by the Chinese government in 1995. Pharmanex has the exclusive right to market CordyMax Cs-4 outside of China.

Pharmanex, a subsidiary of Nu Skin Enterprises, Inc., has a portfolio of multivitamin/mineral supplements, proprietary natural health products, standardized botanicals and specialized health systems. Based in San Francisco, Pharmanex’s products, including CordyMax Cs-4, are sold direct to the consumer through a network of independent representatives, as well as through a number of independent pharmacies.


11. Northern Rivers Region of Australia to Become Herbal Medicine Capital
By Chris Herde

LISMORE, June 22, AAP -- Blessed with lush vegetation, an alternative lifestyle tradition and a strong rural sector, the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales is set to become the herbal medicine capital of the Australia.

The region has been optimistically branded Cellulose Valley - an obvious reference to California’s Silicon Valley, the research and development powerhouse of the computer age.

A prime mover of the project, Southern Cross University Associate Professor Derrin Davis, said the timing of the Cellulose Valley project could not be better.

He said the Australian natural plant and complementary medicine industry was at take-off point, aided by its increasing acceptance into the health sector mainstream.

It was also becoming more evidence-based as users and regulatory agencies seek information on the efficacy and safety of herbal medicine products.

"Clearly, there is an immediate window of opportunity for Australia to become a world leader in this sector and develop a significant new Australian export industry," Prof Davis said.

"The vision for the Cellulose Valley project has been to create a high quality workplace in the future, based on a cluster of firms and activities relating to the search, development, commercialisation and production of natural plant products, particularly, but not exclusively for therapeutic use.

"We want to be like Silicon Valley - if you’re involved in this industry this is the place to be."

And there are billions of dollars at stake, with the international retail market worth more than $23 billion annually with a growth rate of 15 per cent.

The Australian industry is estimated to be worth between $200 and $500 million a year with more than 60 per cent of herb material used by manufacturers now imported.

As part of the region’s commitment to the new industry, a business plan for the 73-hectare Cellulose Valley technology park was recently launched at the Southern Cross University campus at Lismore.

The multi-million dollar technology park will facilitate research and development, manufacturing and production of herbal medicines and related products.

It will also cater for the research and commercial development of natural plant products, particularly for their therapeutic application, and will welcome and support a range of other compatible business activities.

The park will provide more than 400 jobs by 2005.

Prof Davis said the park would be the focal point of the Cellulose Valley project.

"If Australian companies are to successfully access export markets, then products will need to be underpinned by research and quality assurance - services that will be provided by Southern Cross University and Cellulose Valley technology park," he said.

The park has the enthusiastic support of local, state and federal government as well as all the major authorities and community groups in the region.

Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Aged Care, Senator Grant Tambling, said it was one of the most exciting business innovations he had seen.

"It represents a strong and insightful industry development initiative and I believe it will attract attention from major participants and competitors around the country and indeed around the globe," Senator Tambling said.

His excitement reflects the federal government’s enthusiasm for the rise in popularity of herbal and natural medicines, and in turn the possibility of lower health care costs.

Senator Tambling recently introduced the Complementary Medicines Reform Package which he said would usher the industry further into the health mainstream.

He said a working party would review the regulation of complementary medicines including advertising controls and the move from pre-market to post-market vigilance to ensure safety standards were met.

Senator Tambling said a complementary health care consultative forum had been established to exchange information between the industry and government and an office of Complementary Medicines established within the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

"The introduction of the Complementary Medicines Reform Package further establishes Australia as a world leader in the regulation of complementary health care products," Senator Tambling said.

"No other country has undertaken to provide such a comprehensive regulatory structure to ensure safety and quality of complementary health care products, thus maintaining the highest possible level of confidence for Australians who choose complementary medicines.

"These new government initiatives underpin an important improvement in health care in Australia, and at the same time recognise the commercial considerations and opportunities in Australia and overseas."


12. Vietnam Sniffs Out Niche in World Spice Trade
By Dean Yates

HANOI, Vietnam, June 21, Reuters -- The pungent aroma of pepper and cinnamon is starting to waft from warehouses in Vietnam as the country eyes a niche in the world spice trade.

Already a top grower and exporter of rice and robusta coffee, Vietnam has burst onto the pepper market in recent years and is now moving into cinnamon, star anise, ginger, turmeric and herbs, foreign traders said.

David Marchington, director of brokers Chambers and Knight Ltd in London, predicted Vietnam would make further inroads into the pepper trade.

"Vietnam is a very serious force in the world pepper market," Marchington said by telephone. "If you look at black pepper particularly, in the space of five years, Vietnam has joined the world’s major producers and is highly rated.

"In the short term, Vietnam will produce more because prices are high and that gives every encouragement for farmers to grow as much as they can," Marchington said.

He added that pepper from Vietnam compared favorably on quality with similar grades found elsewhere.

Vietnam, which ships most of its pepper abroad, has targeted exports of 20,500 tons this year from 15,000 tons in 1998.

From January to May, exports were worth an estimated $66 million. Prices have ranged from $3,300 to 4,000 a ton FOB Saigon Port in the past six months.

Some traders say Vietnam is now the world’s second-largest black pepper exporter after India.

But it is the more exotic spices in Vietnam such as cinnamon, star anise and ginger that excited Mark Barnett, director of Pacific Basin Partnership.

Barnett’s company has a cooperation contract with the Vietnam National General Export-Import Corporation 1 to process cinnamon for export to world markets.

He said the venture, which operates a processing factory near Hanoi, was the key player shipping cinnamon from Vietnam.

"Vietnam hasn’t yet realized its niche market potential in cinnamon," Barnett said. "But several major American companies have begun using Vietnamese cinnamon in recent years."

He added that Vietnam’s cinnamon exports were currently around 2,000 tons a year worth $3.5 million of annual world trade of 45,000 tons and that figure would rise.

He expected Vietnam’s cinnamon exports to grow 50 percent within three to four years, with key destinations to Europe and the United States.

Barnett said decades of war in Vietnam and a lack of processing facilities had left farmers unable to utilize a prime climate and fertile soil in which to grow cinnamon.

In addition, a weak rupiah currency in the past two years had helped Indonesian growers fortify market share.

Barnett said cinnamon was grown in central and northern areas of Vietnam on some 37,000 acres of land.

Meanwhile, several thousand tons of star anise -- a spice often used in Chinese cooking -- were being exported.

Barnett said ginger and turmeric were grown in abundance, with several companies from Hong Kong and Taiwan making regular purchases. He added that there was also potential for chilipeppers and paprika.


13. Tibetan Medicine Wins Wide Recognition
LHASA, June 22, Xinhua -- A thousand years ago, Tibetan doctors developed a simple way to find out if a person had been poisoned or not: Spit in a bowlful of water, and the pattern of the saliva the next morning would reveal the truth.

Nowadays, Chinese experts, including Tibetans and people of other ethnic groups, are engaged in extracting the more reliable parts of traditional Tibetan medicine to find new and alternative treatments for various diseases.

"The old Tibetan medicine and drugs are gaining greater vitality because they are being scientifically tested," said Jiacuo, a deputy director of the Tibetan Medical Institution the Tibet Autonomous Region .

Since 1993, when the institute was established, over 500 students have graduated from it, including some postgraduates and foreign students, according to the Jiacuo.

In addition, Tibet has five other Tibetan medical schools, and nearly 100 students, from Tibet and other Tibetan areas in the country, graduate from these schools every year.

Currently, the autonomous region has more than 1,000 medical workers who are practicing traditional Tibetan medicine, while half of the 3,000 village doctors in Tibet are able to treat their patients with Tibetan medicine and drugs.

So far, one regional Tibetan hospital and six prefecture-level Tibetan hospitals have been set up in the autonomous region.

Local authorities are working on standardizing the research and application of traditional Tibetan medicine, according to Aden, deputy director of the Public Health Department of the regional government.

To date, local experts have analyzed more than 1,000 traditional Tibetan medicinal herbs. There are now three major Tibetan pharmaceuticals manufacturers in the autonomous region, whose products are sold to over 30 Tibetan medical institutions across the country.

In recent years, Tibetan experts have published dozens of academic works and textbooks on traditional Tibetan medicine. Meanwhile, a group of young people have been assigned to study under some 50 aged Tibetan doctors, Aden said.


14. China’s First Tibetan Medicine Group Founded
XINING, June 29, Xinhua -- China’s first state-owned Tibetan Medicine company has been set up in this capital city of northwest China’s Qinghai Province.

The Jinhe Tibetan Medicine Corporation Ltd. comprises a hospital, a pharmaceutical plant, a research institute and a medical college focusing on traditional Tibetan medicine. It will combine the processing of medicines with treatment facilities linked into research activities.

The group plans to develop one or two new high-tech products in the next couple of years and export its products abroad by setting up Sino-overseas joint pharmaceutical plants.

The region is rich in Tibetan medicine resources, with Qinghai boasting 2,200 herbal plants and 80 minerals which can be used as ingredients.


15. Chinese City is Centre for Wild Forest-Harvested Vegetables and Herbs
GUILIN, June 25, AsiaPort -- Guilin City in Guangxi has been devoting itself into the development of forest vegetables, and selling well both outside and inside China. There are lots of kinds of edible wild herbs. After treatment, these herbs are sold around China, Japan and Southeast Asia. At present, the yield of Ziyuan County has reached 2 million RMB yuan. Baishou Town has become the famous distributing center of mushroom. Vermecelli in Guanyang County has been awarded the golden prize of 199 World Green Food.


16. Congolese Women Treat Genital Infections With Herbs
KINSHASA, Congo, June 23, PANA -- Herbal treatment of genital infections is widely practised by women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a recent study by the faculty of medicine at Kinshasa University says.

Out of a sample of 800 women interviewed at the central market of Kinshasa, 471 or 59 percent said they regularly use traditional medicine to treat genital infections, according to the study led by Prof Yanga, a gynecologist.

Women use these practices for mainly medical and aesthetic reasons. The use of herbs sometimes leads to accidents and side effects which may compromise the sexual and obstetrical functions of users and even cause death, the study says.

Out of the 471 women who said they used traditional practices, 180 or 18.2 percent said they have suffered complications or "negative side effects."

Among complications, the study mentions ulcers and vaginal burns, genital hemorrhage, local infections, blocking of the vagina, fatal scepticemy, cuts in the genitalia during childbirth and amenorrhea.

In his conclusion, Yanga stressed the need for close cooperation between traditional healers and doctors to improve traditional medicine, in line with WHO recommendations.

Herbal treatment of the genitalia, which has been banned by the WHO, is among practices collectively grouped under female genital mutilation considered to be harmful to women’s health in general, and to the health of young girls in particular, the study explains.


17. Congolese Minister Encourages Traditional Medicine in Hospitals
By Goddy Ikeh

KINSHASA, Congo, June 9, PANA -- The health ministry of the Democratic Republic of Congo plans to authorise and encourage the practice of traditional medicine in certain hospitals in Kinshasa.

Health minister Mashako Mamba made the statement Tuesday during a working session with a group of traditional healers, whom he encouraged to provide the population with medicines that have been tested by appropriate laboratories.

Traditional medicine in the DRC has at times proved to be more efficient than modern medicine in certain diseases like feminine or masculine sterility, diabetes and arterial hypertension.

The co-habitation of modern and traditional medicines has been tried at the Kinshasa general hospital where an anti-malaria drug "Manalar" made by a traditional healer, Batangu Mpesa, was distributed on experimental basis.

At the end of the test, Batangu said "Malanar" had showed significant efficacy and tolerance rate of about 93 percent.

Batangu is director of the Luozi pharmaceutical research centre which is credited with the discovery of certain medicinal herbs, including "Manadiar" for combating diarrhoea, "Minflor" for the cure of filariasis, as well as "Kanak" and Makina Ngolo", two alcoholic beverages made from aphrodisiac roots for increasing sexual appetite.


18. Potentilla: Attractive Garden Flower and Herb
By Lee Reich

June 28, AP -- Potentilla is a small shrub that blooms through summer, the five buttercup-yellow petals of each blossom opening wide as if to smile back at the sun. After an initial flush of bloom, the quantity tapers off. But even a few of these 2-inch blooms, set above the dainty foliage, are enough to liven the plants that stand 2 feet high.

Give potentilla abundant sunlight and it will be happy. It tolerates heat well and is undaunted by winter cold. It also will grow in a wide range of soils: acidic or alkaline, wet or dry.

The plant looks best in summer. In winter a low hedge of potentillas looks like a roll of tumbleweed. The tangle of brown stems are somewhat attractive in winter, poking up through and catching bits of snow and is definitely preferable to bare soil. The bushes are scraggly, but not overly so because of their small size and tight growth habit.

Potentillas do eventually get ragged enough to require some pruning to get rid of very old wood and stimulate tidier, new growth. Prune the plant in late winter, either lopping everything to the ground every few years or selectively cutting down some of the oldest stems every year. Whole plants pruned to the ground recover quickly, even blooming again the same year they are cut.

There are many wonderful hybrids of potentilla, with colors ranging from white through yellow to red. The variety Abbotswood has white flowers and blue-green leaves, while flowers of Moonlight and Primrose Beauty are pale yellow. Moving towards red are the pure yellow flowers of Goldfinger, the yellow-red of Tangerine, and the vermillion of Red Ace.

Aside from these cultivated potentillas, there also are numerous wild ones. The plant’s name is derived from the Latin word meaning "potent" and refers to medicinal uses of wild potentillas. It also is known as cinquefoil, meaning "five-leafed."

In old herbals, potentilla was recommended as an astringent to bring down fevers, as a sedative for hysteria epilepsy and as a gargle for sore throats or swollen tonsils.

Potentilla was a favorite herb of witches and sorcerers, perhaps because of its hand-shaped leaves. It is odd that potentilla should have such sinister associations, especially because the 17th century herbalist Culpeper wrote that potentilla is ruled by the planet Jupiter and is therefore considered soothing, cheering, benevolent and otherwise jovial.


19. Herb Business News
Rite Aid and GNC: Announce Strategic Online Partnership with Drugstore.com

CAMP HILL, Pa. and PITTSBURGH, Pa., June 22, Business Wire -- Rite Aid Corporation, one of the nation’s leading drugstore chains and General Nutrition Centers, Inc., the largest specialty retailer of vitamins and mineral supplements in the U.S., announced today that they are partnering with drugstore.com to offer customers an enhanced online experience for health and wellness products.

The three companies said they have signed 10-year agreements to fold an existing Rite Aid-GNC website, to allow customers to order prescription drugs for delivery by mail or same-day pickup at Rite Aid stores, and allow drugstore.com’s customers to buy medications through health insurance plans.

The agreements will become effective upon receipt of necessary governmental clearances under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended.

As a result of the agreements, Rite Aid will own 25.3 percent of drugstore.com and GNC will own eight percent of drugstore.com for cash investments of $7.6 million and $2.4 million, respectively. In exchange, drugstore.com will receive the cash and other consideration, including exclusive marketing commitments and other obligations, having an aggregate value well in excess of the cash consideration.

The companies said the alliance combines the benefits of online pharmacy with in-store pharmacy and wellness products and services in a partnership among three separate companies that are each leaders in their categories. The companies also said the alliance creates the first online pharmacy offering the ease and manageability of online ordering with the choice of local in-store pickup or mail delivery of prescription medications. The online pharmacy will be an enhancement of the current drugstore.com Web site with Rite Aid and GNC branding added to the Home, Pharmacy and Wellness pages. The enhanced site is expected to be operating by early fall.

Drugstore.com will have the exclusive online rights to sell all GNC brand products as well as the new Rite Aid/GNC PharmAssure (tm) brand of Pharmacist recommended vitamins and nutritional supplements, which will be introduced this fall with a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign. drugstore.com will create a separate "GNC Live Well" boutique featuring GNC proprietary products, PharmAssure products and extensive educational information on health and wellness.

"This alliance joins key players from the online pharmacy space, the retail drugstore setting and the wellness and nutrition category," said Peter Neupert, president and chief executive officer of drugstore.com. "We will be able to offer customers an enhanced shopping experience by combining both the online and offline worlds for their pharmacy needs, as well as providing easy access to the products that enhance and promote well being."

Neupert continued: "Rite Aid is well positioned in the industry, because it has a large retail store base and owns PCS, one of the largest pharmacy benefits managers. Rite Aid’s strategy is to be a leader in the prescription delivery market, so our partnership is a natural fit in the development of the online pharmacy channel.

"GNC is the clear market share leader in the wellness category and understands how the online medium benefits customers who want to learn more about taking care of their bodies with wellness products.

"Partnering with leaders will help us to deliver an enhanced customer experience online for health and wellness," Neupert said.

"We believe this will be a win situation for Rite Aid, any way you look at it," said Martin Grass, Rite Aid chairman and chief executive officer, who said his company carefully investigated other online drugstore companies before choosing to partner with drugstore.com.

"We are partnering with the player we believe will be a leader in this Internet space because of its well-honed marketing strategy and strong financial backing," Grass said. "Combining drugstore.com’s ease of ordering with the convenience of same-day pickup at our stores will attract both current and new Rite Aid customers. Moreover, Rite Aid, through PCS, is particularly well positioned to strengthen drugstore.com’s ability to serve pharmacy customers.

Grass continued: "It also makes a lot more economic sense to partner with drugstore.com because it has the expertise, the capabilities and strong investors, instead of spending the money and the time it would take away from our core businesses to develop, own and manage our own site. We believe there will be only a few successful companies in this category, and drugstore.com is a leader."

William E. Watts, GNC president and chief executive officer, said, "We welcome this opportunity to partner with one of the most innovative and successful e-retailers. We believe that this achieves our strategic objective of creating and maintaining a strong presence in the Internet-based mass market while, at the same time, providing a major distribution channel for GNC-branded products and PharmAssure.

"The Internet remains an important vehicle for GNC," Watts added, "because it meets our criteria for long-term profitability--an information-intensive, high margin, brand-oriented channel with continuity of usage. This alliance with drugstore.com reflects our desire to establish a strong Internet presence with a well-established site. It also frees us to focus on our strengths--the development of the leading supplements brand in the U.S. and control of the largest store base in supplements retailing--without incurring the risks, costs and complexities of managing an aggressive electronic presence."

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Tokyo Public Communications: Introduces Horsetail Product to Japan

TOKYO, June 23, Comline -- Tokyo Public Communications (TPC) is marketing a dietary supplement featuring an extract from the herb horsetail. Opinion has it that horsetail, containing such elements as magnesium, manganese and silica, brings physiological functions into balance. In the West, horsetail is used in shampoos. It is also used to cure bed-wetting in small children.

One capsule has 600mg of the effective ingredient found in horsetail. The recommended dose is one or two capsules with water or milk. A bottle of 30 capsules sells for Y5,220. This product is available by mail order and at drugstores and natural food stores across the country.

Natural Factors, a Canadian manufacturer of dietary supplements, makes the product. Nippon Family Care brings the product to Japan. TPC is the local marketing agent.

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Bally: Expands Herbal and Nutritional Supplement Line

CHICAGO, June 23, PRNewswire -- Bally Total Fitness today announced its successful line of proprietary nutritional supplements sold under its Bally Nutritionals brand will expand immediately from 13 to 44 products. Additionally, all products in the expanded Bally line will be housed in attractive new packaging with innovative graphics to provide for stronger branding impact at the point of sale and better communication of product benefits.

The roll out of the expanded product line will begin immediately and should be available in all Bally Total Fitness facilities throughout the United States by the end of July. The Company is also reviewing several opportunities to distribute this or parallel product lines through retail distributors outside its fitness centers.

Included among the new items in the expanded Bally Nutritionals line are seven top-selling natural herbal supplements -- Ginseng, Gingko Biloba, Echinacea/Goldenseal, Garlic, Kava Kava, St. John’s Wort and Saw Palmetto. According to Paul Toback, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development for Bally Total Fitness, "These new herbal products are among the hottest selling items in the fastest growing segment of the nutritional supplements industry. We’ve received a lot of requests from our members for these products," noted Toback, "and we anticipate continued strong growth from the entire line of Bally Nutritionals due to the broader appeal of our new supplement offerings."

Other new products being added to the line include a new all-natural diet pill called Fat Burning Complex and six new vitamin products, including a value-priced multivitamin with special formulations for men and women and C, E, Calcium/ Magnesium and B-complex vitamins. For sports nutrition, Bally’s product line will now include whey and soy protein powders. Finally, Bally’s very popular BFit Energy Bar(TM) line will add a new flavor -- mocha -- and new all-natural low-fat energy bars called Snack Right(TM) in four flavors: Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate/Banana, Apple/Cinnamon, and Honey/Peanut.

In addition to being distributed in Bally Total Fitness centers nationwide, the entire, expanded line of Bally Nutritional Supplements will be offered via the Company’s website, http://www.BallyFitness.com and through Bally’s health, fitness and nutrition store on Spree.com, the seventh largest e-commerce site on the Internet.

Bally Total Fitness is the largest, and only nationwide, commercial operator of fitness centers, with approximately 4 million members and 340 facilities located in 27 states and Canada. With more than 120 million annual visits by members to its fitness centers, Bally Total Fitness provides a unique platform for distribution of products and services to active, fitness-conscious adult consumers.

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Tsumura: In Talks with U.S. Dietary Supplement Makers

TOKYO, June 17, 1999, Comline -- President Hachizaemon Kazama of Tsumura has revealed that the company’s 3-year rehabilitation plan has been progressing faster than expected and that his company is negotiating with four American dietary supplement (DS) makers on the reexport of herbal extract medicines to the U.S.

The DS makers are thinking of importing herbal extracts from Tsumura for use in DS, and marketing them in the U.S. They are reportedly planning to start the business by the year-end.

Tsumura is also carrying out clinical trials of its three herbal extract medicines at the International Medicine Department of Munich University Medical School, to develop internationally accepted drugs derived from herbal extracts.

Kazama told the press that Tsumura appropriated last year a special loss of JPY31.1 billion ($259 million) including the loss caused by liquidation of its subsidiary, suffering a loss of JPY28.3 billion, and had had to suspended payment of dividends for the first time since it was listed.

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VitaminLife.com: Challenges Internet Pharmacies with Lowest Prices

REDMOND, Wash., June 29, PRNewswire -- VitaminLife today announced that the company has launched its new web site at VitaminLife.com, to provide the largest selection of name brand vitamins, herbs, diet, sports and other personal care items on the market at 30-50% off retail price.

VitaminLife.com offers nationally recognized brands including TwinLab, Nature’s Way, Solaray, Country Life, Natures’ Plus, and Enzymatic Therapy at discount prices.

"We offer more products and a wider selection than you’d find in the largest health food stores, along with greater value and convenience," said Dean South, president and chief executive officer of VitaminLife.com. "Why would anyone shop at retailers such as GNC when we offer many of the same products at 40% savings? When comparison shopping on the Internet, VitaminLife.com offers a 22% savings over such sites as Drugstore.com -- savvy consumers are realizing that shopping on the Internet isn’t necessarily synonymous with savings."

Sample comparison:

Twinlab Daily One Multivitamin (90 capsules)

National vitamin retail chain store: (GNC) $23.99

Other Web-related store: (Drugstore.com) $18.39

VitaminLife.com: $14.37

In addition to the Web site, VitaminLife also has a store located in Redmond, Washington where customers may enjoy an everyday savings of 15% or greater off retail price. The combination of Internet store and a physical store location allows VitaminLife to maintain customer contact to keep the company up-to-date on the latest trends and requests, as well as to react quickly to customer preferences and concerns. This also allows VitaminLife to offer customers national brands that are only available through health food stores, such as the #1-selling "Source of Life" multiple vitamin.

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Native Planet Foods: Gears Up for Growth

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., June 28, Business Wire -- Native Planet Foods Inc. announced this week that it has retained the investment banking firm Sutro & Co. Inc. as private placement agent for the Scottsdale-based company.

Native Planet Foods’ highly successful branded food products include Frutazza(R) fruit smoothies and Pima Naturals(TM) herbal supplements. The company also has developed the expanding Frozen Fusion(TM) franchise.

The company’s rapid growth in these areas has created an outstanding institutional investment opportunity to help Native Planet Foods exploit its multi-channel growth strategy in the healthy foods market.

In addition to funding internal growth, funds from the private placement will help capitalize the company for acquisitions of other complementary companies and product lines with defined market niches in the area of healthy living food products.

Frozen Fusion(TM), the company’s retail concept, operates a rapidly growing national chain of franchised real fruit smoothie stores which has expanded from one store to more than 25, with commitments for 70 more stores nationwide.

The company’s real fruit smoothie product for the foodservice market, Frutazza(R), was recently awarded best tasting smoothie by the American Tasting Institute and cited on the cover of the 1999 Branding America Conference & Expo. Frutazza(R) is currently sold in more than 1,100 locations nationwide, including the leading contract management companies and large Quick Serve Restaurant operators.

Native Planet Foods also owns the Miss Karen’s(TM) brand of frozen yogurt, which it sells nationally to hospitals, school and restaurants, among other venues. This year, the company introduced a line of individually packaged herbal supplements, Pima Naturals(TM), whose sales to foodservice outlets and convenience stores are exceeding all expectations.

Headquartered in Arizona, Native Planet Foods Inc. is a privately held corporation owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Native Planet Foods is dedicated to the creation of products and services designed to promote a healthy lifestyle.

A portion of the proceeds from Native Planet Foods Inc. is used within the Salt River-Maricopa Indian Community for social and educational programs.



The Republic of Tea: Leads Restaurant Trend to Bottled Iced Tea

NOVATO, Calif., June 28, Business Wire -- Restaurateurs around the country have discovered a new beverage for the patron who wants to pair a non-alcoholic beverage more interesting than premium water with menu selections: bottled iced teas from The Republic of Tea.

Designed with the dining public in mind, The Republic’s unsweetened, all-natural bottled iced teas are eagerly sought at restaurants and cafes around the nation.

"Our bottled iced teas provide a refined accompaniment to the fine dining experience," said Ron Rubin, CEO and Minister of Bottles. "Teas made for the mass market are usually sweetened and have additional additives. Our teas are made for Citizens who want purity in their beverages. They are for people who appreciate fine wines with certain foods and recognize that there are subtleties in the flavors of teas that make them ideal partners with different foods."

The Republic’s bottled teas are available in flavors that enhance a wide variety of foods typically found on restaurant menus: Blackberry Sage is the perfect accompaniment to roasted fowl or gourmet pizza. Available in both regular and decaffeinated versions, Ginger Peach compliments pork and spicy dishes. Jade Mint Green Tea lends a fresh and healthy note to all types of Asian cuisine, lamb and duck. Other flavors include Republic Darjeeling which goes well with shellfish and veal, Mango Ceylon which pairs nicely with salads, seafood, risotto and polenta, and Raspberry Quince which enhances the flavors of lamb, roasted meats and poultry.

The Republic of Tea’s Bottled Iced Teas are served in fine restaurants around the country, among them are the University Club in Manhattan, the Ritz Carlton in Boston, The Arizona Biltmore Resort and Hotel, Atlanta Fish Market, Bellagio in Las Vegas and The Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Headquartered in Novato, The Republic of Tea sells more than 75 varieties of teas, herbs, chai, bottled iced teas, jams and cookies in specialty food locations throughout the United States, and though its exclusive mail order catalogue and web site www.republicoftea.com.


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