Richters HerbLetter

Date: 99/07/30
1. U.S. FTC Launches "Operation Cure.All"; Four Web Sites Charged
2. Wide Use of Four Herbs Prompts U.S. NIH to Push for Safety Studies
3. More Study Needed on Herbal Remedies Say US Doctors
4. St John’s Wort and Bright Light Can Cause Cataracts
5. Chinese Medicinal Herb Banned in UK over Kidney Problems
6. Canadian Herbalism Journal Sued for $7 Million
7. Lowly Geranium Feasts on Toxins; Scientists Try to Patent Lemon-Scented Marvel
8. Cuba Doing What Comes Naturally in Medical Care; U.S. Trade Embargo Forces Reversion to Centuries-Old Healing Techniques
9. Depletion of Rare Kenyan Plants Alarms Experts
10. China Boasts World’s Largest Seed Bank
11. African Governments Urged to Enact Laws to Protect Herbalism
12. Zambian Herbalists Warned Traditional Healers Using Needles Illegally
13. Traditional Healer Acquires African Potato Immune-Enhancing Formula
14. Herb Business News

1. U.S. FTC Launches "Operation Cure.All"; Four Web Sites Charged
WASHINGTON, June 24, FTC -- Internet health fraud is the target of a comprehensive law enforcement and consumer education campaign announced today by the Federal Trade Commission at a press conference in Washington, D.C. The campaign, "Operation Cure.All," uses the Internet both as a law enforcement tool to stop bogus claims for products and treatments touted as cures for various diseases and as a communication tool to provide consumers with good quality health information. Four cases that resulted from the agency’s "Health Claims Surf Day" were part of today’s announcement. The companies settled FTC charges that the four web sites made deceptive and unsubstantiated health claims concerning "miracle cures" for serious illnesses: cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and liver disease, among others. Also unveiled at the press conference were valuable resources for consumers to use to obtain reliable health information on the Web.

"Quality, not quackery is the focus of our new campaign, "Operation Cure.All," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. "As consumers become more assertive about making their own health care decisions, the Internet offers a powerful tool for finding health information. Our survey of the web sites found that too many make deceptive, unproven and fraudulent claims. Miracle cures, once thought to be laughed out of existence, have found a new medium. Consumers now spend millions on unproven, deceptively marketed products on the Web. Our law enforcement efforts will continue to focus on deceptive and unproven claims. But limited resources cannot keep up with the proliferation of web sites promoting fraudulent products. Consumers must be provided with reliable resources so that they can use the Internet to find the support and health care information they need."

Bernstein said that nearly 22.3 million adults in this country sought health and medical information online as of December 1998, making health and medical content the sixth most commonly accessed type of information on the Web. Twenty-nine percent of all Americans looked to the Internet for medical information and nearly 70 percent of those searching for health care information on the Web, do so before visiting a doctor’s office, she said. Most online consumers search for information about diseases, and about one out of four of these consumers joins an online support group. Cancer-related searches are the most frequently sought disease category, followed by heart disease.

At the press conference, Bernstein outlined the charges in the four cases, gave the results of "Health Claims Surf Days," which the agency conducted with public health, consumer protection and information agencies from 25 countries, including the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and introduced two new FTC Consumer Alerts, titled "Fraudulent Health Claims: Don’t Be Fooled" and "Virtual ‘Treatments’ Can Be Real-World Deceptions."

Also appearing at today’s event was Dr. Mary Jo Deering, Director of Health Communication and Telehealth at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Deering spoke on behalf of healthfinder, the federal consumer health information gateway, and the HHS Science Panel on Interactive Communication and Health. The panel has issued a report that presents specific guidance for promoting sound, appropriate assessment of this emerging field.

"The Internet is an important new tool for promoting health and spreading the prevention message. But with so many consumers relying on health information from the Web, we need to ensure that what they find is sound. is the federal gateway for reliable information. It provides specific resources to educate people about fraud and quackery and how to find and evaluate information on the Web," said Dr. David Satcher, Assistant Secretary for Health and Surgeon General.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also has a website, located at, which is another valuable source of accurate and unbiased information. "The Internet can be a very powerful and useful tool for consumers - but it must be used carefully," said Gary Dykstra, FDA’s Deputy Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs. "In particular, consumers need to check out medical products or services offered on the Internet with physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals. FDA is committed to working with the FTC, and with healthcare and consumer groups to help broaden consumer awareness about the Internet - its potential benefits and possible risks."

The FTC conducted two Health Claim Surf Days, one in 1997 and the other in 1998. The surf days identified approximately 800 World Wide Web sites and numerous Usenet newsgroups that contain questionable promotions for products or services purporting to help cure, treat or prevent six diseases: heart disease, cancer, AIDS, diabetes, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. After each Surf Day, web sites were sent e-mail messages, alerting them that their claims require scientific substantiation and that disseminating false or unsubstantiated claims violates federal law. Following the e-mail, FTC staff surveyed a representative sample of the 1998 sites and found that 28 percent of the sites had either removed their claims or had been taken down. Bernstein said that the agency is very encouraged by the fact that over a hundred sites making questionable claims voluntarily cleaned up their act, but warned that the agency will continue to monitor the Web for fraud and deception and bring law enforcement cases as appropriate.

In the four FTC cases announced today, the companies were charged with making unsubstantiated health claims for products advertised on the Internet. The companies agreed to settle the charges and the proposed settlement agreements were announced today for public comment.

According to the agency, John Sneed and Melinda Sneed d/b/a Arthritis Pain Care Center (APCC) marketed CMO, purportedly a fatty acid derived from beef tallow, to distributors and consumers. APCC claimed that CMO cures most forms of arthritis by permanently modifying the immune system, and that the product is beneficial in treating numerous other diseases. The complaint alleges that APCC’s efficacy claims are unsubstantiated and that the claims about certain scientific studies, including studies at the National Institutes of Health, are false. The proposed settlement would resolve the charges by prohibiting APCC from making unsubstantiated claims for CMO. The company also would be prevented from making unsubstantiated health claims for any food, drug, dietary supplement or program and from misrepresenting the results of any tests or research.

Body Systems Technology, Inc. (BST) sells to consumers shark cartilage capsules as well as capsules and liquid containing a Peruvian plant derivative, Cat’s Claw, the agency charged. The company promoted them as effective treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS, and arthritis, and represented to consumers that scientific studies established their efficacy. In fact, according to the FTC, the claims are unsubstantiated. The proposed consent order would prohibit similar unsubstantiated claims for any product or program and also would bar BST from making unsubstantiated health claims for any food, drug, dietary supplement or program. Additionally, the proposed order would require BST to identify, notify, and make refunds to all purchasers of these products during a proscribed period of time, the agency said.

Magnetic Therapeutic Technologies, Inc. and Jim B. Richardson (MTT) promote magnetic therapy devices, using testimonials to help extol their purported ability to treat and alleviate a multitude of medical problems and diseases, including various types of cancer and high blood pressure. According to the FTC’s complaint, MTT made unsubstantiated claims that its magnetic therapy products are effective in treating various cancers, HIV and other diseases and health conditions. The proposed consent order would prohibit MTT from making similar unsubstantiated claims for magnetic therapy products and other unsubstantiated claims about health benefits, performance or efficacy of any product or program.

Pain Stops Here! Inc. and Sande R. Caplin (PSH), also promoted magnetic therapy devices and made disease treatment claims for its devices. This company operates in a similar manner as MTT, the FTC said. PSH markets magnetic therapy devices as effective in treating a variety of ailments, including cancer, liver disease, and arthritis. The complaint challenges ten claims as unsubstantiated. The proposed consent order would prohibit PSH from making similar unsubstantiated efficacy claims for magnetic therapy products, as well as any other unsubstantiated claims about the performance, safety, efficacy, or health benefits of any product or program. It also would prohibit PSH from misrepresenting the results of any scientific studies or research.

Bernstein ... expressed the agency’s appreciation for the assistance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, San Diego Field Office; Health Canada; Secretaria de Salud of Mexico; the Office of the Texas Attorney General and the North Carolina Attorney General; the Texas Department of Health; and the California Department of Health, San Diego Office in " Operation Cure.All."

NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $11,000. [FTC File Nos. 9823177 (BST), 9823150 (MTT), 9823182 (APCC), 9823175 (PSH) (opcureall)]

2. Wide Use of Four Herbs Prompts U.S. NIH to Push for Safety Studies
WASHINGTON, July 27, NIH -- Four herbal products -- aloe vera, ginseng, kava kava and milk thistle -- and a substance in vegetables thought to inhibit cancer have been recommended by a panel representing the federal health agencies for toxicity testing under the National Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences [part of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. government in Washington].

Program officials said today that the National Cancer Institute nominated all five for testing because of their widespread or increasing use by the public. The officials said the substances were then reviewed and approved by the federal Interagency Committee for Chemical Evaluation and Coordination, which advises NTP’s testing. Such recommendations are often made when the popularity of a relatively untested substance exposes large numbers of people. No data indicating a known problem is required for a nomination.

Before making a final decision to test the substances, NTP is requesting public comment and any additional scientific information.

The four herbs are aloe vera, which is used as a dietary supplement as well as a cosmetic; ginseng, which is promoted for vigor; kava kava is used as a mood elevator, and milk thistle, is considered by some to have anti-cancer and liver-protective properties. The fifth nomination is for indole-3-carbinol, a substance in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and thought to have potential to reduce the risk of cancer.

NTP, which is headquartered at NIEHS in Research Triangle Park, N.C., said that the current toxicity information on the substances is considered "inadequate."

[A formal announcement of the request for comment is in the "Federal Register" vol. 64, no. 129, pp. 36704-36707.]

3. More Study Needed on Herbal Remedies Say US Doctors
By Emily Kaiser

CHICAGO, July 26, Reuters -- Some critics of the lucrative herbal remedy industry are suggesting the government take a hard look at health claims ahead of next week’s U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) public meeting on dietary supplements.

"Nutritional marketing is way, way ahead of some of the research," Dr. John Renner, head of the National Council for Reliable Health Information, said at a food technology conference in Chicago this week. "We worry because we know the public is horribly confused."

The FDA says the Aug. 4 meeting in Washington will be an opportunity for the agency to hear what more it should require from the makers of dietary supplements said to do everything from enhancing memory to soothing nerves.

Dr. Michael Rotblatt, associate professor of medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, said there has been little effort in the United States to find out whether these remedies work, at which dosages, and whether there are any side effects.

Rotblatt reviewed European studies on echinacea, a plant derivative marketed to stimulate the immune system, and kava, a root-based herbal remedy that is supposed to relieve stress and anxiety, and found mixed results.

In several European studies, researchers found no difference between echinacea and a placebo in preventing colds and flu, although the studies did suggest it can limit the severity and duration of symptoms, Rotblatt said.

Studies on kava found it to be more effective than a sugar pill at reducing stress and anxiety. But when taken in large doses, the supplement can cause a loss of motor skills similar to drunkenness, Rotblatt said.

"There is good evidence that kava does have some anti-anxiety properties, but there are some worrisome situations," Rotblatt said. "All of us should be concerned about the labeling of these products."

The FDA did tighten its rules earlier this year to make dietary supplement labels carry more information including a list of ingredients and levels of vitamins and minerals.

Advocates of herbal remedies say they are already under the watchful eye of the FDA, since they must submit documentation outlining their health claims.

The FDA has the power to shoot down claims that cannot be supported, said Annette Dickinson, an official with the dietary supplement trade group Council for Responsible Nutrition.

She said most of the health claims on herbal remedies are innocuous, adding that the FDA does need to ensure that claims can be backed up.

"These (herbal remedy) products have a long history of beneficial use," she said.

Americans spent about $3.8 billion on herbs and other botanical products in 1998, up from $2.5 billion in 1995, industry data shows.

The remedies are usually classified as dietary supplements, and are therefore exempt from the rigorous FDA scrutiny that drugs must undergo.

4. St John’s Wort and Bright Light Can Cause Cataracts
LONDON, July 21, Reuters -- St John’s wort, an herb often billed as a natural alternative to the anti-depressant Prozac, could cause cataracts if people taking it are exposed to bright light and sunshine, New Scientist magazine said.

A study by Joan Roberts and researchers at Fordham University in New York showed that hypericin, the active ingredient in the herb, reacts with ultraviolet light to produce chemicals in the body called free radicals that damage cells.

"If this product is consumed, one should avoid exposure to bright light to prevent damage to the eye," the magazine quoted Roberts as saying. In laboratory experiments she and her colleagues found that hypericin and bright light damaged proteins in the eye that could lead to cataracts.

They warned people that taking St John’s wort for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a winter depression due to the lack of daylight, in combination with light-box therapy should be particularly careful.

"Certainly never take this drug and use light therapy," she said, adding that users should also be cautious while skiing and sunbathing.

St John’s wort is a very popular herb which research has shown is effective in treating mild to moderate depression.

Roberts said scientists are looking into ways of harnessing a side effect of the herb as a potential cancer treatment.

"Its side effect is being used as a potential therapy for killing cancer cells," she said.

5. Chinese Medicinal Herb Banned in UK over Kidney Problems
By Maxine Frith

LONDON, July 28, PA News -- An emergency ban has been imposed on the import, sale and supply of a herb used in traditional Chinese herbal medicines after two users in the UK suffered kidney failure.

The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) imposed the immediate ban on Aristolochia on the advice of the Committee on Safety of Medicines.

Aristolochia is a herb used in Chinese medicine to treat fluid retention and rheumatic symptoms.

But research has found the herb to be toxic and associated with kidney damage.

Aristolochia has been a prescription-only medicine since 1997, but can be easily confused with two other harmless Chinese herbs, Stephania and Clematis, used to treat similar problems.

More than 70 people suffered kidney failure in Belgium in 1993 after taking a slimming preparation in which Aristolochia had been used instead of Stephania.

Both plants have the same Chinese name Fangji.

The two UK cases of kidney failure happened after people took medicines with the herbal ingredient "Mu Tong".

Mu Tong is used to describe at least four different plants including Clematis and Aristolochia.

In both cases, the toxic herb was mistakenly used instead of the harmless plants.

The Department of Health could not give any more details of the UK victims of the herb.

Organisations representing Chinese medicine suppliers have voluntarily suspended use of Mu Tong and Fangji in a bid to ensure there is no confusion.

The ban comes into effect today and will last three months while the MCA consults the industry on a more permanent ban.

Officials are also considering whether to impose a permanent ban on the herbs which can be confused with Aristolochia.

Herbal medicines are not subject to the same controls as licensed medicines and there have long been fears over their safety.

The MCA is currently consulting with the natural health sector in a bid to establish better regulation.

The Department of Health advised anyone worried about herbal medicines they are taking to consult their practitioner.

Dr Lee Lin, president of the Chinese Medical Practitioners’ Association, said: "I have sent out a note to all our members informing them that Aristolochia is now banned.

"I fully support any move towards regulation as long it does not add another layer of bureaucracy and helps to educate and inform the public about the benefits of Chinese Medicine."

He added: "Chinese Medicine is safe but people should ensure they go to a registered practitioner."

6. Canadian Herbalism Journal Sued for $7 Million
TORONTO, July 15 -- A Canadian herbalism journal has been sued for $7 million by a U.S. dietary supplement company for publishing an article a year ago that raised concerns about products made from a Polynesian fruit tree. The lawsuit may be the first ever launched against a herb-related publication in Canada.

The Canadian Journal of Herbalism, a quarterly publication of the Ontario Herbalists Association, was named in a lawsuit launched by Morinda Inc., a marketer of products made from the Indian mulberry tree (Morinda citrifolia), an exotic fruit known by the Hawaiian name, "noni."

The lawsuit alleges that the article by herbalist Roger Lewis is "defamatory" of Morinda and "constitute slander" of its products, and was published "maliciously, recklessly, capriciously and with a high-handed disregard for the rights and reputation of the Plaintiff." The "Consumer Watchdog" article was part of Lewis’ "Walk Safely in Four Directions" series dealing with the safety of various herbs and herbal products available commercially in Canada.

The lawsuit also alleges that the same article appeared on a web site owned by Roger Lewis.

Morinda Inc. of Lindon, Utah, seeks general damages of $5 million, aggravated damages of $1 million, and punitive damages of $1 million. The company claims that it has suffered losses and "severe and lasting damage to its reputation, business and trade." It also claims it has been subjected to "public scandal, odium, ridicule, contempt and disrepute."

The defendants are consulting with their lawyers.

The Ontario Herbalists Association is a non-profit organization with 600 members.

7. Lowly Geranium Feasts on Toxins; Scientists Try to Patent Lemon-Scented Marvel
By Carolyn Abraham

TORONTO, July 16, [Toronto] Globe and Mail -- Researchers at the University of Guelph have applied for an international patent on lemon-scented geraniums, believing they are pollution-eating plants that could clean the environment and restore a toxic land patch to Garden of Eden.

Their research has found that the familiar flowering plant has an uncanny ability to absorb metal and organic pollutants which could help to detoxify everything from abandoned gas station sites to old mining lands.

They may also be of particular benefit to developing countries whose crop yields suffer because of naturally occurring high metal content in their soils.

Plant biologist Praveen Saxena and his team are now hurrying to find the genes that endow the lemon-scented geranium with its rare ability to absorb pollutants so they might, through genetic engineering, enhance those traits.

And although they have not yet discovered those genes, they have requested in the patent application field last year that their claim include any genetically modified form of the lemon-scented geranium that would be used to detoxify the environment.

Patents have been issued on other plants, Dr. Saxena said. But the issue of laying an ownership claim over a natural life form remains a controversal area of biotechnology. This is partly because critics argue that patents often make new agricultural technology unaffordable to farmers who could benefit from it.

Stephanie De Grandis, associate director of Guelph’s business development office, explained that the patent would not be on the plant, but on the process of using the plant for cleaning up contaminated soil, called phytoremediation.

"Anyone who went out to use these geraniums for phytoremediation would have to come and talk to us [if the patent is granted]," Dr. De Grandis said, adding that anyone who didn’t could face legal action.

After planting the scented geraniums in contaminated soil samples from an undisclosed site in Canada and conducting a similar trial at a contaminated Hamilton location, the researchers found that the plants cleaned up toxic soil and flourished in it.

"With other methods to get rid of toxic metals in the soil, the soil is left clean, but it’s useless," Dr. Saxena said. But by planting lemon-scented geraniums to clean the soil, the same land could later be used for farming, he added.

Around the world, several different research groups are searching for metal-resistant genes in the few plant varieties that can thrive in metal-rich soils. Some, according to an article published today in Science, are trying to insert metal-resistant genes from other organisms, such as bacteria, into the DNA of crop plants to make transgenic plants that would be metal-resistant. Such a project is under way at the University of Saskatchewan.

Metals are a key enemy of plant growth and result in stunted plants and poor harvests in the Southeastern United States, Central and South America, North Africa and parts of India and China.

While some sites have natural metal contaminants, others have been polluted by industry.

Wilf Keller, research director of the federal government’s Plant Biotechnology Institute in Saskatoon, said a biological solution to clean up the "thousands" of contaminated sites in North America would be the most environmentally friendly option.

He noted that members of the cabbage family can grow in lead-contaminated soil, and that rubber trees in the South Pacific can absorb so much nickel from the ground that their sap turns blue. But, he said, the scented geranium -- formally known as Pelargonium sp. Frensham -- are unusual because of their absorption capabilities and their ability to turn contaminated soil into arable land.

"I think this research has to be treated as a significant invention ... or a discovery. It will offer significant improvements for the environment," Dr. Keller said.

He acknowledged that there is always the possibility for debate about the legitimacy of a proprietary patent over the biological function of a plant as an "invention." But he noted that the researchers discovered the plant’s environment usefulness.

The University of Guelph researchers suspect that scented geraniums may be the only known plant species that has the ability to absorb both multi-metal and organic chemical contaminants, anything from cadmium to hydrocarbons.

Dr. Saxena has reported that the geraniums can soak up as much as 3,300 milligrams of cadmium, 18,700 mg of lead, 6,400 mg of nickel and 650 mg of copper for every kilogram of plant tissue in two weeks. The plants do not exhibit any sign of toxic stress.

[Richters Herbs provided the Frensham lemon-scented geranium line for this study. Plants are available from Richters. --ed.]

8. Cuba Doing What Comes Naturally in Medical Care; U.S. Trade Embargo Forces Reversion to Centuries-Old Healing Techniques
By Andrew Webster

HAVANA, June 29, [Toronto] Globe and Mail -- A new revolution is unfolding in Cuba that has nothing to do with guerilla warfare.

In what amounts to a 180-degree turn back to centuries-old healing techniques, the Cuban government is actively promoting low-cost botanical medicines instead of manufactured drugs.

It is also encouraging doctors to re-educate themselves in the techniques of natural medicine.

Much of the credit for this revolution goes to the continuing U.S. trade embargo. The economic disaster that followed the withdrawal of Soviet aid in the early 1990s made it impossible to obtain many medicines. So the Cuban health-care system was forced to search for alternatives.

Cuban medical practitioners didn’t have to look far because "medicina verde," green medicine, has been part of Cuban culture for centuries.

"For Cuba’s common illnesses -- skin problems, fungal infections, parasites, and especially bronchial diseases -- green medicine usually works at least as well as the drugs, without the side effects," said Leoncio Padron, director of traditional and natural medicine for the ministry of public health.

Patients treated with natural medicine (for example, acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal remedies) more than doubled to about three million in 1998 from 1996, Mr. Padron said.

Orlando Sanchez, a doctor just two years out of the University of Havana medical school, recalled that his interest in a medical career began during his army service. He was befriended by a medical-school dropout who taught him the traditional Chinese health practices of tai chi and quigong.

Unlike many of his medical peers in North America, he does not see a conflict between natural and conventional medicine.

"We are trying to develop some sort of synthesis, the best of natural and conventional medicine to heal without damaging the patient," said Dr. Sanchez, who works in a newly opened government clinic in the Havana suburb of Miramar.

The clinic is aggressively promoting self-healing techniques by holding free classes in yoga, tai chi and stress management -- even teaching acupuncture points.

Tough economic times forced the government to slash health-care expenditures to about half of what they were in 1979. But Cuba has more doctors now than then.

"Health care is better now because we can do more with less," Mr. Padron said.

Even if the U.S. embargo ended abruptly, he said, Cuba would continue paying attention to natural medicine in the interests of developing medical science.

The change in Cuban health care has not gone unnoticed by the country’s neighbours to the north.

Marta Perez, director of natural and traditional medicine for the ministry of public health in Havana province, told a dozen visiting health professionals from the United States in the fall that the Cuban government promotes natural medicine because it is sustainable and cost-effective.

"The special period has been a great teacher for Cuba," she said, "because in the midst of this difficult situation, we had to find a way to fight back."

In 1992, the government set up organizational responsibility for natural medicine within the public health ministry. A resolution was introduced specifically sanctioning herbal medicines and infusions made from plants, acupuncture and related techniques, as well as homeopathy and thermotherapy (sulphur baths and mineral mud baths).

Adding such treatments to a system that was completely conventional has not been easy, Dr. Perez said. "We defended all of these treatments, saying we needed to have a wide range of treatment options. We looked mainly for techniques that we could defend scientifically."

The country’s medical revolution also attracted the attention of Tracey Spack, a student in medical anthropology at the University of Alberta.

Ms. Spack is now in her ninth month of field work for her PhD thesis on how alternatives to conventional medicine are being integrated into Cuban health-care system.

An Ottawa native, she explained that before the 1959 revolution, the use of plants and herbs was relatively common and accepted in Cuba. the revolution brought in modern medicine, so natural emdicine faded into the background.

Cubans who grew up in the Soviet-backed economy of the 1960s through the 1980s did not exactly embrace natural medicine with open arms. But Ms. Spack said they found out, to their surprise, that it actually works.

Rita Beretervide, a 1986 graduate of the University of Havana, was trained in the old school before natural medicine started making a comeback. Last year, she joined dozens of other neighbourhood clinics on natural medicine.

"I now prescibe mostly herbal medicines, and I’m confident that they work," said Dr. Beretervide, a family-medicine specialist in the Havana suburb of Santos Suarez.

A Policlinico Docente Vedado, where Ms. Spack is doing her field work, natural-medicine techniques are used to treat as many as 100 to 125 patients a day.

A few blocks away, customers gather at the counter of an open-air pharmacy carved out of the ground floor of a crumbling apartment building. A large sign lists the most popular herbal remedies.

Pharmacists there report that the most common ailment among people over 50 in the neighbourhood is hypertension. It can be treated with a herbal medecine derived from sugar cane called "cana santa," which costs the equivalent of six cents.

Of course, not everybody is singing the praises of "medicina verde."

A Cuban woman whose skin problems didn’t respond to herbal treatment said: "Frankly, I don’t believe in green medicine. If it really worked, the doctors in the United States and other rich countries would be using it too. We only use it here because there’s nothing else."

But natural medicine has gained a strong foothold in Cuba, propelled by economic necessity, unopposed by the medical establishment and with deep roots in the culture.

In her briefing to the visiting U.S. health professionals, Dr. Perez related an anecdote: The vice-minister of public health for Cuba came down with a large and ugly lesion on his mouth. He was told the best natural medicine treatment was a combination of aloe vera, rosemary and a special herbal cream. Within three days, the lesion was healed, she said, and now no one can say a bad word to him about natural emedicine.

9. Depletion of Rare Kenyan Plants Alarms Experts
NAIROBI, July 29, The Nation -- Conservationists are alarmed by the fast pace of disappearance of rare plants in Kenya. According scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Britain, one of the world’s leading plant research institution, Kenya is one of the spots where plant species are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Dr Mike Maunder, the head of conservation programme at the institution in Kew, says Kenya has already lost three of its unique species in the last five years.

"On African varieties, we have already catalogued three extinct plants in Kenya in the last five years," he says.

Statistics from the National Museums of Kenya also support the argument and reveal that Kenya has lost six plants in the recent times. These are parvula of capparaceae family, buxoides of melastomataceae, gigas of verbenaceae, scheffleri of rubia ceae, B of rubiaceae and Sp.nov of verbenaceae.

Dr Maunder predicts most extinctions in the next millennium will take place in the world’s hot spots "one of them being the East African region".

He attributes the negative trend to population explosion and poor land use systems.

Although data from the National Museums of Kenya shows there are 6,817 species scientists believe the number is higher.

Some also contend that the number of species extinct in Kenya might be higher than what is on record.

"A large number of species remain unknown. More research is needed in this field to make us know more about our plants and their importance," said the museum’s information assistant, Mr. Simon Kang’ethe.

Of the 6,819 plant species, 868 are trees (13 per cent), 1,233 (18 per cent) are shrubs, 423 (six per cent) are climbers, herbs represent 48 per cent (3,259) of the total, while the remaining 1,034 (15 per cent) have not been determined.

"They are either shrubs, herbs or none of the above categories," says Mr. Kang’ethe.

To help reverse the situation, Dr Maunder advises that Kenya must curb population explosion and develop clear policies on conservation.

Kenya, he says, also needs to change policies and target forests where unique species - both animal and plants - reside.

"Conservation in Kenya is focused on the savannah ecosystem. However, most of the unique species like endemic insects reside in the forests," observes Dr Maunder.

The expert refers to the Coast Province’s Kaya forest which he says houses a third of Kenya’s threatened species of trees but has remained neglected.

He urges the East African countries to focus more on plant conservation saying currently major programmes target the five largest and most dangerous game animals (Lion, elephant, rhinoceros, leopard and buffalo) also referred to as the big five.

It is true Kenya has one of the richest plant biodiversity in the world.

Of the 6,817 recorded species, 392 are endemic, 336 are regional endemic while 265 are Kenyan globally threatened, that is to say the species are not endemic to Kenya but are found in other regions.

A plant, says Mr. Kang’ethe, is termed as globally threatened when it is found in 100 or less locations globally or the individual species number 10,000 or less worldwide.

The botanic garden focuses on research mainly plant taxonomy, floristics and economic botany.

Its work has benefited many English-speaking nations Kenya included.

The 120-hectre garden also known as Kew Gardens has links with Kenya’s East African herbarium - one of the biggest in Africa.

Kew herbarium has the biggest collection of East African orchids specimens in the world.

The situation might become worse if institutions in Kenya do not produce enough qualified taxonomists, says the outgoing director of Kew, Prof Ghillean Prance.

The National Museums of Kenya has launched a plant conservation programme which involves among others, monitoring the status of habitats, plant species, their genetic structure and relationships, capacity building and education on conservation.

Kew, however, is not only a research place in suburban London, where scientists spend the whole day in laboratories and libraries.

The garden is home to an inexhaustible reservoir of exciting plants.

In this lush greenery near the famous Heathrow Airport is an array of mammoth trees which are over 200 years old.

One is treated to a rich menu of diverse types of climate and vegetation in the garden’s conservatories - the Princess of Wales and the Palm House - believed to be some of the biggest in the world.

10. China Boasts World’s Largest Seed Bank
XINING, July 22, Asia Pulse -- With over 310,000 varieties, China boasts the world’s largest reserve of seeds, according to an agronomist in this capital of northwest China’s Qinghai Province.

China now has two major seed storehouses, one in Beijing and one in Xining, according to agronomist Ma Xiaogang.

The one based here is an auxiliary of the Beijing-based Chinese Crop Seeds Storehouse, which is housed in China’s Academy of Agricultural Science.

Ma, also a deputy director of the Crops Department of the Qinghai Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Science, said that the Xining storehouse was established to better preserve the seeds, which are vital for China’s agricultural development and research.

He said the cool and cold weather in Qinghai is ideal for keeping the seeds, adding that the local storehouse is computerized so that information about any kind of seed can be easily obtained.

According to Ma, the seeds in the seed bank include wheat, rice, maize, a variety of herbs, and vegetables and wild plants.

Now, all the seeds are kept in freezers with the temperature set at 10 degrees below Zero Celsius.

"Under this temperature, the seeds can be kept alive for 80 to 100 years," Ma said.

This winter, an additional 30,000 types of seeds will be sent to the Xining storehouse, bringing the total to some 340,000, he said.

11. African Governments Urged to Enact Laws to Protect Herbalism
NAIROBI, July 27, The Nation -- Laws should be enacted to protect herbalists and traditional healers. Dr Jack Githae, a herbalist, said legislation had hampered herbalists in their work, research and cooperation with other medical experts.

"We need to work out modalities and laws that will define who a herbalist or a traditional healer is. At the moment, the local and international framework is hostile to us," he said.

He told a workshop in Nairobi that herbalists used to work closely with research bodies like the Kenya Medical Research Institute, but that ceased due to lack of proper legal definition and suspicion.

The seminar, organised by ActionAid Kenya, discussed the implications of the World Trade Organisation treaties.

Dr Githae said the Samburu and Maasai communities had lost most of their expertise and knowledge in traditional veterinary healing to foreigners.

He said the two communities had their own unique formula of treating animals but such knowledge had now be taken and monopolised by foreigners.

Dr Githae said Africa had never pirated other people’s knowledge because Africans were used to sharing with others.

He said African lifestyles and resources were taken over by other people, with serious repercussions.

Dr Githae told the seminar that African’s art and skills as healers were disregarded because of neo-colonialism.

Africans, he said, had allowed foreigners to take and use their traditional knowledge without benefiting in any way.

The herbalist said the structural adjustment programmes initiated by the World Bank had systematically destroyed the coffee, tea and dairy industries in Kenya to the detriment of farmers and others who depended on them.

He said the indigenous foods were nutritious and healthy. "Our backyard chicken is not just tasty, but also has medicinal values."

He called for amicable sharing and utilisation of resources: "Our indigenous and scientific knowledge has made us survive slavery and colonialism. Other weaker communities have been wiped out. Africans are made of sterner stuff," he added.

He said Africans should be compensated for the damage caused by the Western world.

Dr Jasper Okelo of the University of Nairobi told the workshop: "We in Africa seem to have this disease of appending our signatures easily on treaties without seriously thinking about them. It is time we rethink and change our negotiation tactics."

He said most African negotiators used the opportunities to go for holidays and earn allowances.

12. Zambian Herbalists Warned Traditional Healers Using Needles Illegally
LUSAKA, July 22, Times of Zambia -- Some traditional healers on the Copperbelt are allegedly administering conventional injections on their patients and provincial cultural officer Juma Banda has instructed the Traditional Health Practitioners Association of Zambia (THPAZ) to institute investigations.

Mr. Banda who disclosed this in Ndola yesterday called on THPAZ to He said some healers had started injecting their patients using syringes and needles and called on the relevant authorities to pounce on the culprits. Mr. Banda said in Ndola yesterday that he issued instructions through THPAZ president Rodwell Vongo who informed him that investigations had already begun. Reports reaching him were that THPAZ inspectors were close to catching some fake healers and that once they were caught, they would be prosecuted. Mr. Banda wondered how people would accept being injected without fear of contracting diseases from unsterilised needles.

"People must be careful with these fake healers because through those needles one can be infected with the HIV or other deadly diseases," he said. He advised members of the public who were aware of healers who injected their patients to report them either to his office or to the police.

Mr. Banda said he was happy with Dr Vongo’s quick response and that his action was good for the image of the association whose credibility was threatened by what he termed "quack healers". He said he wanted THPAZ to uphold their standards which were as good as conventional health services.

He said only trained medical personnel, such as doctors, nurses and clinical officers were authorised to inject patients.

13. Traditional Healer Acquires African Potato Immune-Enhancing Formula
LUSAKA, July 19, Times of Zambia -- A Zambian traditional healer working in collaboration with a Swaziland counterpart has acquired the formula used to produce medicine from the miraculous African potato which boosts the immune system.

Stanley Mukwala, popularly known as "Dr Bweleka" said in an interview at the weekend that Swazi herbalist Mirriam Nkosi recently visited Zambia and released the formula to him.

"What is important is that we now have the formula and apart from that, the African potato itself which we thought cannot be found in Zambia is available in abundance. We even organised three big bags for Ms Nkosi to carry to Swaziland," Dr Bweleka said.

He said the African potato which was found mainly in mountainous areas, was almost finished in Swaziland by researchers including those from Europe who had rushed to that country for it. He said the potato was mixed by three other local herbs to come up with the drug which had no side effects except to diabetic patients.

Dr Bweleka said even the diabetic patients could not experience any side effects if they took the medicine six hours after taking diabetic drugs. The drug was not only good for body immunity but was equally good to premature babies.

14. Herb Business News
Eu Yan Sang: Herbal Products Changes Logo

KUALA LUMPUR, Jul 30, Asia Pulse -- Specialist herbal products company Eu Yan Sang, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, has introduced a new logo to symbolise modernity and the firm’ moving with the times.

It depicts a tree with a large canopy supported by strong roots.

Managing director Richard Eu, whose grandfather, Eu Kong, started the company in Gopeng, in Perak state, said the new logo was conceptualised to represent values which were fundamental to the company’s success: superior quality, strong heritage and focused vision.

Suntory: New Herbal Confectionary Launched

TOKYO, Jul 29, Comline -- Natchan Orange Nodo Ame by Suntory is a candy version of the company’s best selling beverage "Nutchan Orange." The sugarless product is 25% lower in calories than conventional products, includes 20 kinds of herbal extracts and menthol, and has a refreshing orange taste. A convenient portable stick-type container of 9 pieces of 36.9 g costs Y100.

Irwin Naturals: Changes Name To Omni Nutraceuticals

LOS ANGELES, July 28, Business Wire -- Irwin Naturals/4Health, Inc. today announced that it will change its name to Omni Nutraceuticals, Inc.

The name change will become effective by the end of August 1999, upon completion of all the necessary filings.

The company has applied for a new NASDAQ symbol. Until the new name becomes official and an announcement is made, the company’s symbol, "HHHH," will remain the same.

Company President and Chief Executive Officer Louis Mancini commented: "We have determined that the name `Omni Nutraceuticals’ exemplifies the multifaceted aspects of the company in the rapidly evolving world of natural nutrition. The name `Omni’ means `many,’ illustrating our commitment to explore various nutritional delivery methods, preventive supplements and therapeutic remedies."

Added Mancini, "We have ambitious plans for the 21st century. Achieving them necessitates the unification of the company’s divergent subsidiaries, trademarks and brands. The proposed name change is a logical, synergistic step toward that unification."

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, Inholtra(R), 4Health(TM), 151 Bar(TM) and, an on-line health and drug store.

The company’s products are sold through mass retail and specialty natural health, nutrition and food retail stores worldwide. The company competes with Weider Nutrition Intl. ("WNI"), Twinlab Corporation ("TWLB"), and Rexall Sundown, Inc. ("RXSD").

IVC Industries: PlanetRx to Market IVC Branded Products

FREEHOLD, NJ, July 27, Business Wire -- IVC Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ: IVCOD) announced today an agreement with, the leading Internet healthcare destination for commerce, content and community, whereby will offer IVC’s Fields of Nature brand vitamins online.

Under the terms of the agreement, IVC will supply branded vitamins, including herbal products, food supplements and dietary supplements, for retail sale by through its website.

In announcing the agreement, E. Joseph Edell, Chief Executive Officer of IVC, said, "This agreement is a further step in IVC’s strategy to broaden the distribution of its branded products. We believe that is a very dynamic and strong affiliation for IVC, as it is one of the most trusted healthcare e-commerce destinations on the Internet and has an excellent reputation of offering quality products and services. We look forward to marketing IVC’s branded products with such a well respected company."

Allan Goldman, Vice President Merchandising of, said, " is dedicated to giving consumers access to products and information on both alternative and traditional care. Through this partnership we look forward to continuing to offer our customers an extensive selection of vitamins, herbal products and food and dietary supplements." Mr. Goldman added, "We look forward to working with IVC."

IVC Industries, Inc. is engaged in the manufacturing, packaging and worldwide sales and distribution of vitamins, nutritional supplements and over-the-counter (non-prescription) pharmaceutical products, both tablet and liquid-filled form, through drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchandising chains, as well as health food stores, independent drug operators. Its products are distributed under the "Fields of Nature," "LiquaFil," "Pine Bros.," "Rybutol," "Nature’s Wonder," and "Synergy Plus" brands, as well as under the private brands (store brands) of its retail chain store customers.

==== Opens First ‘Consumer-Ready’ Online Pharmacy

ST. LOUIS, July 27, Business Wire --, Inc. today announced the official launch of yourPharmacy, the first online pharmacy "ready and able" to honor the prescription drug insurance coverage and co-payments relied upon by millions of Americans. Consumers across the country will benefit immediately from the convenience of desktop shopping for prescriptions and pharmacy-related products, the financial savings from being able to use their drug insurance on the Web, and the confidence of using a trusted, experienced online pharmacy. yourPharmacy also offers significant savings to those lacking drug insurance because of its promise not to be undersold on prescription products by any of its primary online rivals.

yourPharmacy also offers a broad selection of over the counter medications, health and beauty aids, and vitamins and herbs, making it easy for customers to satisfy all their pharmacy needs while saving money on prescription drugs. An independent pharmacy wholesaler supplies and fulfills all non-prescription health, wellness and beauty orders from its modern facility in Louisville, Ky. The company’s fulfillment partner, an industry veteran, is committed to ensuring that yourPharmacy’s customers receive a uniformly high level of service across both their prescription and non-prescription orders.

Twinlab: Sales Down in Second Quarter

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y., July 27, Business Wire -- Twinlab Corporation today announced results for the second quarter and six months ended June 30, 1999.

For the second quarter of 1999, net sales were $74.2 million, compared to $83.3 million in the comparable period last year. Net income was $1.8 million for the 1999 second quarter compared to pro forma net income of $6.0 million in the second quarter of 1998.

For the six months ended June 30, 1999, net sales were $145.7 million as compared to $158.1 million for the same period in 1998. Net income was $3.5 million compared to pro forma net income of $13.8 million for the six months ended June 30, 1998. Six month results for 1999 include the previously disclosed one-time charge of $1.7 million ($1.0 million after tax, or $0.03 per share) representing severance costs of $520,000 and costs related to the Company’s completion of its labeling program to comply with new regulatory standards.

Ross Blechman, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President commented, "As anticipated, our profitability in the second quarter was negatively impacted principally due to the initiatives we have undertaken to improve the sell through of our products at the retail level and the costs associated with building our infrastructure to support and develop our various channels of distribution. ... Due to these and other initiatives, we remain cautiously optimistic that despite overall weakness in the nutritional supplement industry, we may experience some sequential sales and earnings improvements as 1999 progresses."

Twinlab: Appoints New Chief Financial Officer

HAUPPAUGE, NY, July 27, Dow Jones -- Twinlab Corp. said it has named John H. Bolt as chief financial officer.

In a news release, the company said Bolt succeeds John McCusker, who resigned to pursue other interests. It said McCusker will remain to help with the transition.

It said Bolt joins the company from Kellogg Co., where he was most recently vice-president and corporate treasurer.

Twinlab markets nutritional products, including vitamins, herbs and nutraceuticals.

Biomerica: Nutritionists to Provide Content for Online Drug Store

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., July 26, Dow Jones -- A team of nutritionists will provide content on nutritional supplements, vitamins and herbs for Biomerica Inc.’s upcoming online drug store.

In a press release Monday, the company said Sandy Tyler Sherwood, a naturopathic doctor, Tom Anderson, former president of the Southwestern region of the Natural Nutritional Food Association, and Nicole Hankins, a consultant for nutritional companies will provide content for, which is expected to launch in the fourth quarter.

Biomerica is a medical company developing medical diagnostic products for the early detection of diseases.

Celestial Seasonings: Third Quarter Sales and Earnings Up

BOULDER, Colo., July 22, PRNewswire -- Celestial Seasonings, Inc. today reported that earnings for its third quarter ended June 30, 1999 were $1.2 million, and diluted earnings per share were $0.14 as compared to earnings of $0.1 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.01 for the quarter ended June 30, 1998. The company reported that net sales increased by 6.9% to $20.7 million in the third quarter of this year from $19.4 million in the third quarter of last year. Net sales of the company’s tea products increased by 52.3% to $18.9 million in the third quarter of this year from $12.4 million in the like quarter last year.

The substantial increase in earnings was primarily due to fluctuations between the second and third quarters of this year. As the company indicated last quarter, earnings in the quarter ended March 31, 1999 were adversely affected by unexpected transition issues relating to a new warehouse, production shortages of certain products and timing of trade promotions. These issues resulted in a greater number of orders not being shipped in the second quarter than would normally have been the case. The company was able to ship those orders during the third quarter, and these shipments were a primary reason for the substantial earnings increase during the third quarter.

For the nine months ended June 30, 1999 the company reported that revenue increased 13.7% to $90.0 million from $79.1 million during the comparable period in 1998 and diluted earnings per share increased 10.8% to $0.72 from $0.65. The company also said that the increase in revenue was largely a result of a 25% year-to-date increase in the shipment of its tea products.

"In the third quarter we experienced good growth in our Wellness, Green and traditional Herbal tea products," remarked Steve Hughes, CEO and President. "Consumption numbers continued to be strong for nearly all aspects of our tea business. And we are enthusiastic about the initial response to our new 60-count dietary supplements products. We believe that both retailers and consumers will be pleased with the value and continued quality that these products provide."

The company said that its share of the specialty tea segment increased to 29.0 for the quarter, and that its share of the green tea segment increased to 30.8.

Celestial Seasonings, Inc. is the largest manufacturer and marketer of specialty hot teas in the United States. The company makes a broad selection of flavorful Herbal, Green, Wellness, Organic, and Chai teas. The company’s most recognized tea products include Sleepytime(R) - America’s favorite herb tea - Lemon Zinger(R), Red Zinger(R), and Tension Tamer(R). The company also markets a line of herbal supplements including Ginseng Energy(TM), Gingko Sharp(TM) and Mood Mender(TM) with St. Johns Wort.

Baywood: Adds Herbal Anti-Snore Product to Its Line

Scottsdale, Ariz., July 22, M2 Communications -- Health and nutritional supplement company Baywood International, Inc. announces it has obtained exclusive marketing rights to one of the leading anti-snore products on the market, Dr. Harris’ Original Snore Formula. The agreement makes Baywood the sole provider of Original Snore Formula to health food stores, supermarkets and drug stores nationwide. Dr. Harris’ Original Snore Formula, introduced in 1993, is a fully patented, all-natural product designed to relieve nighttime snoring, one of the most common quality-of-life problems for adults. Medical authorities have estimated that up to 40% of the U.S. population are chronic, regular snorers.

Sold in caplet form, Dr. Harris’ Original Snore Formula is made from a mixture of plant extracts. The natural enzymes and herbs in the product act to digest nasal secretions, thereby allowing the body to absorb them and reduce the swelling of nasal tissues which causes snoring in most people. The remedy has been shown to significantly reduce or eliminate snoring in 86% of all sufferers, according to a medical study conducted by Dr. Harris, while Good Housekeeping magazine found that two-thirds of all snorers who took the product experienced a "big improvement" in their problem.

Baywood plans to make Dr. Harris’ Original Snore Formula a flagship product in the company’s Solutions product line, one of two major lines recently introduced by Baywood. Solutions is a family of products formulated to help specific conditions; the other new line, PureChoice, is a group of premium, single-ingredient products.

"Baywood is fortunate to have partnered with such a popular and well-regarded product as Dr. Harris’ Original Snore Formula," said Neil Reithinger, Baywood Chairman/CEO and President. "We plan to aggressively promote this anti-snoring remedy to leading health food and drug chains under the Solutions banner, and give it the kind of additional distribution it deserves to reach a broad and diverse customer base."

"Dr. Harris’ Original Snore Formula has had a great deal of word-of-mouth promotion, but lacked a focused, consistent marketing program at the retail level," said Dr. Dennis H. Harris, MD, originator of Original Snore Formula. "With this agreement, we expect Original Snore Formula to reach a whole new base of snoring sufferers. I’m confident Baywood is the appropriate choice for attaining that goal," he added.

Until now, the remedy has been sold primarily through direct sales. Dr. Harris has been a guest on over 1,000 radio shows around the country since the product’s introduction, and has also been featured in radio commercials and radio infomercials.

Baywood plans to gain additional distribution through sales and an extensive marketing and advertising program directed to retailers and consumers. Trade journal ads, direct mail, consumer print and radio advertising are planned for the effort, though budget levels have not yet been announced.

Headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ, Baywood International, Inc. develops, markets and distributes health and nutritional supplements. Its mission is to become a recognized leader in the provision of natural products that are based on natural compounds.

Herbalife: Second Quarter Sales, Net Income Up

LOS ANGELES, July 21, Business Wire -- Herbalife International Inc. Wednesday reported ... retail sales for the 1999 second quarter increased 7 percent to $425.8 million, from $398.1 million in the 1998 comparable quarter. Net sales for the 1999 second quarter, after the effect of distributor allowances, increased 8 percent to $226.4 million from $209.9 million in the same quarter last year.

For the second quarter, net income declined 20 percent to $12.2 million, or $0.40 per diluted share, compared to $15.3 million, or $0.50 per diluted share, in the 1998 second quarter. The decline in net income primarily relates to increased expenses attributable to the Company’s continued investment in its global administrative and operational infrastructure and Y2K conversion projects.

For the six months ended June 30, 1999, retail sales increased 7 percent to $854.6 million compared to $796.6 million in the same period last year. Net sales for the first six months of 1999, after the effect of distributor allowances, increased 8 percent to $452.8 million from $419.7 million in the same period last year. Net income declined 21 percent to $23.9 million, or $0.79 per diluted share, from net income of $30.1 million, or $0.99 per diluted share, in the first six months of 1998.

Herbalife International Inc. markets nutritional, weight management and personal care products worldwide. Herbalife products are available only through a network of independent distributors who purchase the products directly from the Company.

Nature’s Sunshine: Second Quarter Sales Drop

PROVO, Utah, July 21, Business Wire -- Nature’s Sunshine Products, Inc., a leading manufacturer and marketer of encapsulated herbs and vitamins, today announced operating results for the second quarter and six months ended June 30, 1999.

Second quarter sales revenue was $71.6 million compared to $77.2 million in the same period the prior year, a decrease of 7 percent. Net income for the same period was approximately $4.8 million compared to $6.1 million the prior year, a decrease of 21 percent. For the second quarter, basic and diluted earnings per common share were $0.27 compared to basic and diluted earnings per common share of $0.33 and $0.32, respectively, in the same period the prior year.

For the six months ended June 30, 1999, sales revenue totaled $143.8 million compared to $152.5 million the prior year, a decrease of 6 percent. In the same period, net income decreased 11 percent to $9.8 million from $11.0 million the prior year. For the six months ended June 30, 1999, basic and diluted earnings per common share were $0.55 and $0.54, respectively, compared to basic and diluted earnings per common share of $0.59 and $0.58, respectively, in the same period the prior year.

In the second quarter, domestic sales revenue totaled $46.4 million compared to $49.3 million the prior year, a decrease of 6 percent. The Company said that results were hampered by continued softness in domestic sales and slower growth among its U.S. distributors and sales managers. The Company also commented that it was focusing on reinvigorating its domestic network of 184,000 distributors and 7,400 sales managers through new incentive programs and marketing efforts. The Company reported it launched a national print advertisement in the August issue of Redbook magazine. Additionally, initial results from its first-time television test market, featuring the Company’s new MetaboMax(TM) weight reduction product, were promising. "Our hope is that these programs can develop into a meaningful approach to attract consumers who could eventually become distributors," said Daniel P. Howells, President and C.E.O.

International sales revenue in the second quarter totaled $25.2 million compared to $27.9 million the prior year, a decrease of 10 percent. Sales revenue continued to be impacted by foreign currency devaluation against the U.S. dollar, most notably in Brazil. Eliminating the adverse effect of the devaluation, international sales revenue would have increased approximately 4 percent. International net income decreased approximately 70 percent during the second quarter compared to the same period the prior year. The decrease in international net income was primarily due to increased costs associated with the Company’s planned relaunch of operations in Japan as well as decreases in net income in Brazil and Colombia.

During the remainder of 1999, the Company anticipates continued softness in sales revenue in its domestic operations as well as continued foreign currency devaluation against the U.S dollar. Additionally, the Company expects operating results for the third and fourth quarter of 1999 to be impacted by planned investments associated with the relaunch of the Company’s Japanese operations as well as marketing initiatives in its U.S. operations.

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