Richters HerbLetter

Date: 2000/04/30
1. Largest Herbal Event of the New Millenium Planned for July
2. Single Doses of Herbal Remedies Boost Memory
3. One Child Dies of Herb Poisoning, 11 Hospitalised
4. Alert After Poisonous Aconite Plants Stolen
5. Herbal Cigarettes Not "Safe Alternative"
6. Chemists Question Safety of Herbal Medicines
7. Concerns Raised About Ephedra
8. Supplement Industry Urges FDA Action Against Illegal Products
9. WHO Experts Meet to Finalize Guidelines for Regulation of Herbs
10. Aromatherapy for Winters That Won’t End
11. Trade Group High on Marketing Hemp’s Versatility
12. Fortification and Spiking: New Problem for the Herb Industry
13. Pennsylvania-Based Herb Firm Rethinks Expansion
14. Malaysian Flora May Offer Bio-Pharmaceutical Compounds
15. China Urged to Develop Convenient Herbal Medicines
16. China’s Sichuan Province Shifts Focus to Herbal Medicines
17. Traditional Medicine Preferred by 44% in China
18. Traditional and Modern Medicine to Be Provided to Mexican Indians
19. Tibet to Promote Plateau Agriculture, Tourism and Herbal Medicine
20. Retired Sudanese Teacher Devises Herbal Cure for Goitre
21. Demand For Herbal Medicine Shoots Up in Kenya
22. Herbal Medicine Threatens Some Wild Plants
23. Saskatchewan Farmers Look at Herbal Alternatives to Traditional Crops
24. Herb Business News

1. Largest Herbal Event of the New Millenium Planned for July
By Connie Kehler

SASKATOON, April 24 -- Canada’s largest herb and spice association, the Saskatachewan Herb and Spice Association (SHSA), is hosting HERBS 2000 and HERBFEST 2000 this July. Herbs 2000 is an international herb conference for members of the herb industry and Herbfest 2000 is a festival open to the general public. These two back-to-back events will highlight every facet of the herb and spice industry from research to home and garden.

The SHSA is working jointly with the International Herb Association, the Canadian Herb Society and the University of Saskatchewan, as well as the provincial and federal governments, to host the first joint conference and festival of its kind. Both events are sponsored by Richters Herbs.

Herbs 2000, the international conference, will cover commercial retail, production and medicinal themes, with a common thread of marketing and leading edge research. The conference will be held in Saskatoon near a picturesque park along the Saskatoon River, July 18-21. Over 45 speakers will cover everything from the essential oil industry to traditional Chinese medicine. For commercial retailers, growers, processors, brokers, buyers, and researchers, this will be a rare opportunity to meet and hear all the main players in the herb industry.

The conference will be followed by the Herbfest 2000 festival on July 22-23, two days of entertainment and educational events open to the general public. Herbal exhibits, demonstrations, and tours are planned and vendors will offer herbal products for sale. The festival will be located at the park-like Canadian Saskatchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre in Outlook, an hour south of Saskatoon.

The festival will have a outdoor carnival atmosphere with features on foods from around the world, exotic meats, honeys, saskatoon pie, hemp products and massages, herbal medicines, plants, books, herbal crafts, workshops for all ages. Music will be provided by talented artists, new and old, aboriginal and medieval.

The combined conference and festival is expected to be the largest herbal event of the new millenium with thousands of participants attending from around the world.

For more information, visit .

2. Single Doses of Herbal Remedies Boost Memory
By Patricia Reaney

LONDON, April 14, Reuters -- Single doses of the ancient herbal remedies ginkgo biloba and ginseng can speed up reaction time and improve memory and concentration, British researchers said on Friday.

Both herbs have been used for centuries and are among the most popular herbal remedies sold today. New research presented at the British Psychological Society conference in Winchester, southern England, showed just one dose can have an quick effect.

"There have been studies in the past which have shown that if you give people a one-off dose of gingko it improves cognitive performance," Dr Andrew Scholey told Reuters.

"What we found is that it speeded attention. So tasks requiring sustained attention were improved by gingko."

Ginseng has been claimed to have a variety of benefits, from relieving stress to acting as an aphrodisiac. But Scholey, a psychopharmacologist at the University of Northumbria, and his colleagues found it also improved memory.

"The gingko speeded attention, whereas the ginseng seems to improve memory, the storage and retention of information and the ability to concentrate," Scholey said in a telephone interview.

"As far as we know it is the first demonstration of an effect of a one-off dose of ginseng."

The researchers compared the effects of the herbal extracts on volunteers who were given one of three doses of the herbs or a placebo, or dummy pill. None of the volunteers or the researchers knew what each participant was given.

The volunteers were tested once a week over four weeks with seven days between each dose so their bodies would be clear of the previous dose. During the test day they were subjected to a battery of computerised tests to measure their speed and accuracy of attention and long and short-term memory.

"The most effective dose was 360 mg of ginkgo, the standard dose," said Scholey. "When people were given gingko at 9 o’clock in the morning their reaction times were still faster at 3 o’clock in the afternoon."

The experiments with ginseng showed a single 400 mg dose improved ability to store, hold and retrieve information.

Scholey, whose research was sponsored by Pharmaton Natural Health Products, said it is not known what effects sustained use of the herbal remedies would have.

"In some countries ginkgo is already the treatment of choice for Alzheimer’s disease," he said. "These results suggest that such extracts may have many other medical applications such as helping people recover from local anaesthetics."

3. One Child Dies of Herb Poisoning, 11 Hospitalised
MOSCOW, April 11, Itar-Tass -- One child has died of herb poisoning and elevan have been hospitalised in Opukhliki village in Nevel district, Pskov region.

An officer on duty at the Russian Ministry for Emergencies told Itar-Tass on Tuesday that the children got poisoned upon eating the roots of water hemlock -- a perennial marsh herb -- which they ate during an open-air lesson of drawing.

Three of the hospitalised children are in serious condition, the duty officer said.

4. Alert After Poisonous Aconite Plants Stolen
By Michael Bristow

WANBOROUGH, U.K., April 30, PA News -- Two pots containing Europe’s most poisonous plant, which can cause illness in minutes if touched, have been stolen from a nursery.

The flowering plants, called Acontium or Monkshood, were taken from a shed at Wanborough Herb Nursery, in Wanborough, near Swindon, this weekend.

Police said if swallowed or touched the plant can cause burning, sweating, pain, dizziness and numbness in between 10 and 20 minutes.

They are warning anyone who comes into contact with the plant to get hospital treatment.

A Wiltshire Police spokeswoman said: "It’s a dangerous and poisonous plant. It can be ingested through the skin so just touching the plant can cause these symptoms."

Nursery owner Mary Biggs said: "If you do not know what it is it could be dangerous, particularly if children get hold of it."

Mrs Biggs said Monkshood, which has indigo-blue, hooded flowers and dark-green leaves, was now sold as a flowering plant.

She added: "It’s a very nice plant. It’s also a medicinal herb and used to be used for pain relief centuries ago."

The stolen plants are between 6in and 8in high and were in terracotta pots.

5. Herbal Cigarettes Not "Safe Alternative"
By Brigette Greenburg

WASHINGTON, April 28, AP -- Two companies that make unconventional cigarettes -- one marketing an all-natural brand and the other selling an herbal blend -- would stop advertising their products as safe alternatives to regular cigarettes under settlements proposed Friday by the government.

The Federal Trade Commission lodged separate complaints against Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc. of Santa Fe, N.M., and Alternative Cigarettes Inc. of Buffalo, N.Y., alleging that their advertisements are deceptive because they imply that their products are safer to smoke than other cigarettes.

"These cigarettes are marketed with a ‘natural’ aura, but they’re neither healthy nor safe," said Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection. "The fact is, there’s no such thing as a safe smoke."

From now on, when the companies make a "no additives" claim, they also must print on the package, "No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette."

Both companies also agreed to disclose on packages of herbal cigarettes that "Herbal cigarettes are dangerous to your health. They produce tar and carbon monoxide."

The settlements don’t constitute an admission by the companies that any laws were broken.

Robin Sommers, president and chief executive officer of Santa Fe Natural, said in a written statement that the company voluntarily began placing a disclosure statement on its packages as early as 1997 but agreed to the changes requested by the FTC for the sake of uniformity on industry warning labels.

"We do not agree that any of our past additive-free statements were deceptive or misleading in any way," Sommers said. "We believed at the time, and we continue to believe, that these statements are the most accurate, truthful tobacco disclosure statements in the industry."

A spokesman for Alternative did not return a telephone message left with a receptionist at the company’s New York office.

Santa Fe markets "Natural American Spirit" tobacco cigarettes and tobacco-free herbal cigarettes. Alternative Cigarettes sells "Pure" and "Gold" tobacco cigarettes, as well as "Herbal Gold" and "Magic" herbal cigarettes.

The government alleged that Alternative Cigarettes tried to portray their product as safer than others with the claim that "Native Americans smoked all-natural tobacco without the ills that are associated with smoking today." The FTC also said that even herbal cigarettes contain carcinogens and toxins, including tar and carbon monoxide.

Under the settlements, the companies also would be required to notify distributors and retailers that they should stop using existing ads and any promotional materials that make the disputed claims.

The settlements will be subject to public comment until May 30, when the commission will decide whether to make the decisions final. The settlements don’t carry a fine but any future violations could carry a civil penalty of $11,000 for each breach.

6. Chemists Question Safety of Herbal Medicines
MANCHESTER, April 18, M2 Communications -- Concern over the safe use of herbal medicines was raised in a presentation this month at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Annual Conference 2000 at the University of Manchester. Debbie Shaw from the Medical Toxicology Unit at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust, London, discussed Chinese Herbal medicine -- which is very popular among patients but is an area in which few conventional doctors have any training or expertise.

Chinese herbal remedies are used by many people in preference to modern pharmaceutical products, especially for chronic diseases such as eczema.

However, recent cases have been reported where these remedies have caused adverse health effects, ranging from those that are relatively minor - such as nausea and diarrhoea - to potentially serious effects on the liver or kidney.

Shaw discussed:

* lack of regulation of herbal practitioners - there are no requirements for training or practice standards for any herbal practitioner in the UK

* variable quality of herbal products - it is estimated that 80% of herbal medicines available in the UK are unlicensed

* the interaction of the herbs with standard pharmaceuticals or food

* the appropriate regulation of herbal products to ensure quality and safety - particularly since using the wrong plant material can have adverse health effects

Unlike modern pharmaceuticals, which are usually single chemical entities, herbal remedies are complex chemical combinations and the active constituents have not always been identified. This makes regulation and standardisation of these remedies difficult.

Debbie Shaw says: "Clinical trials in both the UK and Australia have shown the benefits of Chinese herbal medicines. However, more research and balanced regulation is needed to ensure that safe and effective herbal medicine is available to the patient as an appropriate complement to modern pharmaceuticals".

7. Concerns Raised About Ephedra
By Lauran Neergaard

WASHINGTON, April 17, AP -- The 38-year-old California man gulped his usual two capsules of the herbal supplement ephedra with a cup of coffee, then went on his daily jog. Later that morning, he dropped dead from cardiac arrest.

A 35-year-old apparently healthy ephedra user collapsed during aerobics class with a stroke.

Medical experts say cases like these show a clear risk from the herbal stimulant -- yet with millions of Americans taking the supplements but reports of possible side effects in the hundreds, just who’s at risk is a major question.

Do you need a checkup before popping the pills? Is taking ephedra with caffeine or while vigorously exercising the problem? Is it the dose?

The Food and Drug Administration is struggling to figure that out. Heeding industry protests, the agency just dramatically scaled back an attempt to regulate ephedra-containing dietary supplements. Now, armed with 273 new reports of problems like the ones above, the agency is grappling with whether the supplements at least need warning labels.

"It is a dilemma for FDA," said Dr. Neal Benowitz of the University of California, San Francisco, who studied the issue for the government.

Ephedra poses "serious risks to subsets of the population," Benowitz added. Until doctors spell that out more specifically, consumers must "know these are not totally benign substances. They’ve got drugs in them. They’ve got serious side effects."

Complicating the issue further, a University of Arkansas study to be published in next month’s American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy tested 20 different ephedra-containing supplements and found half contained very different ephedra doses than the bottles promised -- sometimes lots less, sometimes lots more.

Ephedra, also known by the Chinese name ma huang, is the herbal form of ephedrine, an amphetamine-like stimulant. Ephedrine is sold in a few FDA-regulated over-the-counter asthma medications.

But herbal ephedra is sold in 200 unregulated dietary supplements, for weight loss, building muscle or boosting energy, and occasionally in large doses as an "herbal high."

Ephedra manufacturers insist that overall, the herb is safe. After all, millions regularly use it without problem.

Yet in some people, ephedra is linked to anxiety, sleeplessness, migraines, high blood pressure, seizures, irregular heartbeats, heart attacks and strokes.

It first made headlines when an otherwise healthy 20-year-old college student died from ephedra in 1996. Ultimately, the FDA cited 800 reports of side effects, including 44 deaths, and proposed federal regulations to, among other things, slash the legal dose.

The dietary supplements industry furiously opposed the rules, and Congress’ General Accounting Office said last year that while ephedra did seem risky to some people, the FDA’s crackdown was based on sloppy science. So the FDA backed off.

Now the fight’s back on: The FDA this month released 273 additional reports of side effects among ephedra users. Agency and independent physicians combed medical records to determine how many of the first 140 reports the herb really caused and how many were coincidence. Resulting numbers vary, but all found some danger. Now the FDA wants warning labels; it plans a public hearing this summer.

Until then, what should consumers know?

Clearly, people with heart disease or high blood pressure are at risk from stimulants, including ephedra, Benowitz says. Other risk factors: kidney or thyroid disease, a history of seizures, or diabetes.

Warning labels could help such people, although Benowitz says the California jogger apparently didn’t realize he had seriously blocked arteries.

Six ephedra manufacturers who just formed the Ephedra Education Council concede some risk: Unlike most companies, they have begun using warning labels urging caution if consumers have such diseases.

Yet council spokesman Theodore Farber contends if ephedra were really dangerous, FDA-approved ephedrine for asthma would cause problems, too.

Benowitz responds that asthmatics can indeed suffer side effects, but that far more people take ephedra supplements, for far longer, without a doctor’s care.

And, he notes, some ephedra users with no obvious medical problems, like that aerobics-loving stroke victim, suffer reactions. Why? Nobody knows, but he has two suspicions: Many ephedra supplements also contain a cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine, another stimulant, so a few capsules a day really rev people up.

Also, "I’d be hesitant to have someone take this before a really intense workout," he said, noting a number of serious side effects occurred among exercising stimulant users.

8. Supplement Industry Urges FDA Action Against Illegal Products
WASHINGTON, April 10, PRNewswire -- Dietary supplement industry leaders urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take swift action against illegal street drug alternatives masquerading as dietary supplements. On April 3, FDA published Guidance for Industry: Street Drug Alternatives, acknowledging the agency’s enforcement authority to seize or issue an injunction against products marketed as substitutes to illegal street drugs. The dietary supplement industry has repeatedly asked the agency to remove such products from the market, saying product labels invite abuse by promising rapid ‘highs’ and ‘euphoria,’ leading users to increase their dosage until such a ‘high’ occurs.

The American Herbal Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the National Nutritional Foods Association, and the Utah Natural Products Alliance responded to the Guidance in an April 7 letter sent to the to FDA’s Office of Compliance, Division of Labeling and Nonprescription Drug Compliance.

"The national trade associations of dietary supplement manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are gratified to see that FDA’s new Guidance is so closely aligned with the positions that the responsible center of the industry has consistently taken over the past five years," said the trade group leaders. They added, "Nonetheless, we are concerned that the agency might not act as promptly or forcefully as we believe is appropriate. The Guidance is a first step. If it is not followed by action, it will simply become an artifact. Our industry is being pummeled by headlines denouncing ‘herbs’ and ‘dietary supplements’. The articles are about illegal drug products masquerading as supplements, thus disparaging the entire class of health- promoting supplements that continues to enjoy broad consumer acceptance."

Five years ago, the four trade associations issued a joint statement stating that products marketed as alternatives to illegal ‘street drugs’ such as Ecstasy (MDMA) are misbranded and adulterated dietary supplements under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and subject to regulation as controlled substances.

More recently, industry representatives met with FDA to urge the agency to adopt a policy that clearly identified "any claims (that) are made that the product may be useful to achieve an altered state of consciousness, euphoria, or as a ‘legal’ alternative for an illicit drug" as a criterion for recommending legal action against the product.

In their letter, trade association officials notified FDA that an Internet search readily identified companies that may fit the Guidance definition of "street drug alternatives." "The industry is willing to assist FDA in enforcing against these illegal products," said Michael McGuffin, President of the American Herbal Products Association in Silver Spring, MD. "We urge the agency to use its full enforcement authority granted by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act to regulate appropriately ingredients marketed as dietary supplements."

9. WHO Experts Meet to Finalize Guidelines for Regulation of Herbs
HONG KONG, April 10, Xinhua -- The World Health Organization (WHO) Meeting on Methodologies for Research and Evaluation of Traditional Medicine opened here Monday evening.

More than 85 overseas and local experts are participating in the four-day WHO meeting jointly organized by the Department of Health of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and the Federation of Hong Kong Industries.

"While Hong Kong is set to position itself as an international center for Chinese medicine, it is an honor for Hong Kong to be the host city for such an important and authoritative WHO meeting, " said a spokesman for the Department of Health.

Despite the existence of traditional and herbal medicines over many centuries and the increasing use of such medicines, regulations and registration of herbal products and other traditional therapies are not well established.

International standards and criteria for evaluation of safety, efficacy and quality control for herbal products and remedies are currently not available. More and more governments are seeking WHO’s technical support in this area.

At the meeting, experts from all over the world will review and finalize the guidelines. This meeting and the guidelines will facilitate the development of international standards for traditional medicine in due course. The authoritative guidelines will further facilitate exchange at the global level.

10. Aromatherapy for Winters That Won’t End
By Daniel Pendick

NEW YORK, April 12, New Scientist -- Is the weather getting you down? Everybody tends to be a bit gloomy when the weather is still cold and grey. But for some people, the weather blues have a more serious and debilitating edge.

People with seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, feel depressed and sluggish, their thoughts clouded and slow. Their appetite for sex plummets, replaced by a craving for sweets, bread and other carbohydrates. SAD people go to bed early, rise late, and even begin to put on weight-- rather like bears getting ready to hibernate.

Getting enough daylight and sunshine seems to be a major factor underlying seasonal depression, but beyond that, its cause is still a mystery.

Dr. Teodor Postolache, a psychiatrist in Washington who works with SAD patients, has intriguing new evidence that odours play a role in seasonal depression. According to his studies, people wirh SAD have a more acute sense of smell than people who do not suffer from seasonal depression. This opens up the possibility that the scent of the seasons--as well as the length of day--plays a role in seasonal mood shifts.

A 1989 survey conducted by National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers in Montgomery County, Md., found that about 4 per cent of the population suffers fullblown SAD-- severe and persistent depression in the winter. An additional 10 per cent experience a milder form known as the "winter blues"

Dr. Postolache was already on the scent of seasonal depression as a resident at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York in the early 1990s. One case that caught his attention concerned a woman who noted a connection between her mood and the pungent odour of rotten leaves on the thawing ground in Central Park. "As soon as she smelt that, then she knew that she was going to improve," Dr. Postolache says.

In 1996, Dr. Postolache began a research fellowship at the NIH. He came up with two possible roles that olfaction might play in SAD. One was suggested by the case of a woman who couldn’t smell her husband as well in the winter. Along with her seasonal mood shift and accompanying symptoms, her sense of smell also appeared to shut down. This seemed reminiscent of the seasonal pattern in some animals, in which the sense of smell declines along with the urge to reproduce. An alternative scenario, suggested by the case of the woman who picked up when she smelled leaves, would be that something in the environment-- perhaps a scent of spring-- helped to nudge her seasonal rhythm back into summer mode, lifting the depression.

In winter, serval factors conspire to deprive people of olfactory stimulation. "The floral and leafy odours are not there," Dr. Postolache says, humidity, important in olfaction, is reduced and upper respiratory infections are more frequent. It’s possible that patients are responding rather like rats, which, research has shown, become more sentive to the length of day when they experience less olfactory information.

To test his patients’ sense of smell, Dr. Postolache teamed up with Richard Doty, director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Dr. Doty and his colleagues developed two smell tests that are now widely used. To measure olfactory acuity, they ask people to sniff different concentrations of phenylethyl alcohol (PEA), a substance that has the scent of roses. The second, known as the University of Pennsylvania smell identification test (UPSIT), is a "scratch-and-sniff" test that measures the ability to identify particular scents.

Previous research by Dan Oren at the NIH found that people with SAD and normal controls performed equally well in the UPSIT test. Dr. Postolache decided to repeat Dr. Oren’s work, but with a couple of twists. First, he would measure people’s overall sensitivity, using the PEA test and then he would administer the UPSIT separately to each nostril.

Other researchers have shown the two nostrils can analyze scents differently (New Scientist, Nov. 6). Olfactory sensors in the right nostril send messages to the right side of the brain, and vice versa, and some research suggest that olfactory sensations are processed more on the right side of the brain than the left. Emotion and mood also seem to tie in more strongly with activity on the right side of the brain. For depression, results are mixed; some studies find differences in activity on the right and lest sides of the depressed brain, while others find none. Even so, Dr. Postolache reasoned that if there were a link between seasonal depression and olfaction, discriminating between the right and left nostrils might increase the chance of detecting it.

Dr. Postolache and Dr. Doty administered the tests in winter to 24 people diagnosed with seasonal depression and 24 control subjects. Dr. Postolache was expecting to find a diminished sense of smell in people with SAD, and that this would be somewhat improved by light treatment. But to his surprise, he didn’t pick up any difference in the ability to detect PEA between the SAD cases and the sontrols.

But the researchers did not come away empty-handed. In the second part of the study, Dr. Postolache discovered that the more depressed the patients felt, the less accurate they were at identifying odours presented to the right nostril. At first glance, this finding seems to be consistent with the right-brain bias in olfactory processing. But more importantly, it seemed to suggest that olfaction may be connected in some complex manner in the brain to seasonal emotional rhythms.

Next, Dr. Postolache decided to test how people with SAD fared in olfactory tests in summer as well as winter. This time, he tested each nostril’s sensitivity in the PEA test as well as in the discrimination test. Sure enough, a difference in acuity di show up, but the results weren’t quite what he expected. Overall, the SAD patients had a more acute sense of smell than the controls. The effect seemed to manifest itself almost exclusively in the summer time, although Dr. Postolache says he now needs to test a larger group of SAD patients to confirm this summer-winter difference.

It is not clear yet whether this finding can explain the olfactory oddities Dr. Postolache has observed. Did the woman who seemed to awaken from her winter depression when she smelt rotting leaves get a lift because of a more powerful sense of smell, or was it just a coincidence that she noticed the smell of leaves as her depression was lifting? Dr. Postolache has information on only a few dozen SAD cases, which isn’t enough to answer questions like this. However, linking olfaction to seasonality in humans is itself an important step, because it opens up a new way of understanding the underlying biology of seasonality in humans.

Past experiments with hamsters, which are strongly seasonal, suggest one intriguing possibility. As the days grow shorter, hamsters build nests. Finally, when winter arrives, they hibernate. But remove their olfactory bulbs, where sensory nerves from the nose converge in the brain, and this seasonal behaviour largely shuts down. Dr. Postolache’s findings may show the mirror image of this relationship. "Maybe during evolution we lost some genes, which resulted in some loss of both seasonality and olfactory ability," he says. "I’m just speculating. of course, but maybe those people that are seasonal also preserved an increased olfactory acuity."

11. Trade Group High on Marketing Hemp’s Versatility
By John Saunders

TORONTO, April 17, Globe and Mail -- When the Ontario Hemp Alliance held an art show, product display and happy hour at Toronto’s BCE Place last night, it was anything but Reefer Madness on Bay Street, despite the possible marketing benefits of linking industrial hemp and recreational marijuana.

The paintings, hung in a glass roofed atrium frequented by office workers on weekdays, were hemp oil on hemp canvas.

The munchies, donated by upscale Toronto caterers Daniel et Daniel, were in some cases literally stuffed with hemp: cherry tomatoes filled with hemp-seed tabbouleh, beef carpaccio on hemp-flour crostini and guacamole dip with hemp tortillas, among other items.

The beer, by HogTown Brewing, was made with hemp seeds in the barley mash to add a nutty flavour, HogTown president Peter Lazard said. "People say, "Oh, do I catch a buzz?" and we say, "if you drink enough of it, sure." You can get a hangover, too."

It was a coming-out party for a new industry, and chief organizer David Marcus, 30, a former University of Western Ontario business student, was not about to entertain questions about whether he inhaled. "I don’t smoke," he said.

Although hemp and marijuana are the same plant, Cannabis sativa, they do not have the same drug content, he was at pains to say. The stuff grown as a legal commercial crop in Canada for the past two years (after being banned for generations) has so little of marijuana’s active ingredient that it is just another crop with great industrial and health benefits, he said.

The marijuana mystique is "good for getting discussion going," he said. "once the discussion is up and running, we try to direct people’s attention to what the hemp plant is all about."

AS he and his colleagues tell it, hemp is a fast-growing crop that is so tough it needs no herbicides or insecticides and yields products as diverse as cloth and paper fibre, edible oil and flour, cosmetic ingredients and horse bedding.

It has been grown since ancient times for such non-drug purposes as hemp rope and sailcloth, once mainstays of the world’s navies. "The word canvas actually comes from cannabis," Mr. Marcus said. "That’s how deep this plant goes in our collective history."

Now it is being promoted as a source of tree-free paper for the environmentally conscious and kind-to-the-heart oil for the health-conscious, among other uses.

Daniel Clairet, partner in the catering firm, said he was donating the evening’s food (charging only for the serving staff) because "I believe in the product: it’s very healthy." He uses it at home and "a little bit at work," he said.

Items on display were as diverse as hemp tortilla chips, hemp T-shirts and hemp-paper artworks.

Viewing them were guests such as Blair MacKinnon, a 31-year-old digital video specialist who did not see the hemp industry as trading on marijuana’s reputation. "It does have a colourful history," he allowed.

"There’s certainly a novelty about it," said Gregor Hollander, 32, a University of Toronto business student, "but that gimmick won’t last." Hemp will have to live on the quality of its products, he said.

In the more relaxed parts of the world (meaning most places outside the United States) non-drug hemp is again a routine crop. Canada banned it in 1938 under the Opium and Narcotics Control Act, then legalized it 60 years later with a limit of 0.3 per cent tetrahydro-cannabinol, a level deemed so safe that you could puff yourself sick without getting high.

The U.S. resistance is implacable.

Last month, actor Woody Harrelson lost a fight to draw a legal line between industrial hemp and marijuana when the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that there is difference between the two and said he must stand trial.

He had planted four hemp seeds tp protest against a state law prohibiting possession of any part of a cannabis plant. "The mere fact that hemp may contain less THC than marijuana is of no consequence," the judge wrote.

U.S. drug fighters have accused hemp business of fronting for drug dealers. "They’re making a cutesy argument to legalize marijuana," a White House drug-enforcement official was quoted as saying in 1997.

In Canada however, the first permit to grow hemp for agricultural research was granted in 1994 and the first commercial crops were planted in 1998.

Mr. Marcus, now working on contract to help launch the hemp alliance as a trade group for Ontario’s growers, processors and manufacturers, got interested in the business possibilities of hemp while still in university and now co-owns a hemp consulting firm.

As he sees it, there has been a great deal of pro- and anti-hemp propaganda. Reality is somewhere in the middle, he said.

12. Fortification and Spiking: New Problem for the Herb Industry
By Richard Alan Miller

GRANTS PASS, Ore., April 15 -- A new problem has emerged within the nutritional supplement industry. Herbal botanicals were once seen as complex substances composed of dozens or hundreds of compounds. But the current industry practice is to focus on just one component known as a “marker” compound. As a result, the definition of quality has essentially become the marker level. This means that most pharmaceutical houses now believe that the higher the content of the one component, the better quality the product.

It did not take long for someone within the industry to think that they could take inexpensive botanicals, add the correct amount of marker compounds, and pass the mixture off as a more expensive product. This becomes the origin of the problem of what become known as product fortification and spiking. Fortification refers to increasing the amount of the marker compound already present. Spiking is adding other compounds not initially found in the original herb. Over the last several years, these two names have become somewhat interchangeable.

A historic example of spiking is the Chiu Shu grade (red) ginseng root from China soaked in kola nut to add caffeine. An example of fortification is caffeine added to guarana seed to boost caffeine above normal levels.

A recent example of spiking is oregon grape root mixed with goldenseal root. Oregon grape root sells for only $2.20/lb, while goldenseal root sells for up to $60.00/lb., a price 25 times higher. Oregon grape root is used as an adulterant for goldenseal root because the chemistries of the two herbs are quite similar.

Adulteration of goldenseal is easily detected via what is called a “fingerprint,” or a ratio of specific chemicals. Oregon grape root has more berberine, while goldenseal has more hydrastine. Identification of echinacea is often done by this technique now. "Fingerprinting" is especially useful in the essential oil business.

Guarana is a seed that naturally contains upward of 6% caffeine (along with other xanthine alkaloids such as theobromine and theophyline). Coffee, tea, yerba mate, and kola nut contain only 2 to 4%. As such, guarana is extensively used as a natural source of caffeine. Of course, if the guarana seed were 30% caffeine, then this would make an even better “energy” pill.

There is now a vast amount of pure, natural caffeine available to the manufacturers from decaffeinated coffees. This is very cheap to produce and is considered a by-product from the coffee industry.

The natural caffeine levels of natural substances such as guarana can be altered in a number of ways. The normal way is by extraction and concentration. Guarana seed is soaked in aqueous acidic alcohol to dissolve the caffeine and other naturally occurring alkaloids. This solution is then reduced and mixed with maltodexatran and spray dried.

The final product has caffeine levels up to 40%, depending on how much guarana seed is used. This is what is known as "guarana extract" and its manufacture is an accepted industry practice. It is effective and results in a homogeneous product. It is expensive, as many pounds of guarana must be used to make a single pound of extract.

The second way to increase levels is through fortification. Taking a caffeine-containing product and adding caffeine from a different natural source does this. This is usually from that collected from the coffee decaffeination process. This is the most common process, because it is easy and cheap. It is also the most easiest to detect.

The resulting product is not a single homogenous product and can be detected by close examination under a microscope. One needs to use polarized light, which is optically altered in the presence of crystalline matter (the added caffeine). With experience, the unaided eye can also detect it. Guarana seed and kola nut do not have crystals on their outside surfaces.

A third method is a combination of fortification, extraction, and concentration. This is where the extract of kola nut is combined with pure caffeine from the decaffeination coffee process, and then mixed with maltodexatran and spray dried. As such, this becomes a single homogenous product and not detectable with a microscope. It is then sold as "guarana extract" for more money.

The only way to detect this form of alteration is by fingerprinting. The unusually high levels of caffeine are a first clue. By using HPLC tools, unusual ratios between caffeine and the other xanthine alkaloids can give some history of what happened to this product, and how it was adulterated.

Outright spiking is the addition of pure caffeine to a non-caffeine containing botanical, and then processing it by any of the methods described. This is easily detected by the absence of other naturally occurring xanthine alkaloids. Similarly, one could add a synthetic version of any desired natural marker to any herb with the above methods.

The first tip off that this has happened is when the marker looks “too good” in the analytical data collected on that crop. Synthetic versions are much purer than their natural counterparts. Synthetic caffeine is very expensive, so it is not usually used. However, the Chinese herb, ma huang, and its American cousin, mormon tea, often have synthetic ephedrine and pseudoephedrine added.

In October 1999, a federal grand jury indicted a Colorado manufacturer for fortifying a herbal medicine product with ephedrine hydrochloride instead of natural ephedrine from ma huang and with anhydrous caffeine instead of natural caffeine from kola nut. In further developments, the Texas Board of Health issued rules banning the sale of products containing synthetic ephedrine group alkaloids.

What should be done? First, the public needs to become more informed about practices to defraud consumers. Industry should should police the problem to preserve credibility. And, analytical labs must learn to detect spiking and fortification.

[Richard Alan Miller will speak on the topic of fortification and spiking at the Herbs 2000 conference in Saskatoon in July.]

13. Pennsylvania-Based Herb Firm Rethinks Expansion
By Sherri Buri Mcdonald

EUGENE, Ore., Apr. 20, The Register-Guard/KRTBN -- A for-lease sign hangs again on the cavernous factory building on Garfield Street in west Eugene that a local supplier of herbal extracts had planned to occupy by now.

Eugene-based East Earth Herb Inc. -- now known as A.M. Todd Botanicals after its purchase last year by a Pennsylvania-based company -- was expecting to consolidate its operations in the 93,887-square-foot building early this year. But the nation’s clamor for herbal remedies appears to be abating, and Todd is rethinking its strategy.

The herbal extracts industry, which had been growing at a high-flying 25 percent to 30 percent a year, has dropped to an annual growth range of 7 percent to 15 percent, Todd CEO David Wilson said. Some industry observers predict the herbal supplements market will grow by just 4 percent this year.

Wilson said he believes his company can squeeze out enough output to meet projected demand this year by improving processes and efficiency at its existing plants in Eugene and Philadelphia.

So, for the time being, Todd will continue to operate its labs and offices at 4091 West 11th Ave. and its distribution warehouse at Westec Business Park, he said. In addition, Todd has trimmed its west Eugene work force to 60, from about 85 last year.

Even as it searches for a sublessee for the Garfield Street facility, the company hasn’t ruled out using the property -- or at least a portion of it, Wilson said.

Options range from temporarily storing product there, to transforming the site into the West Coast distribution center for Todd Botanicals, and for other units of its privately held parent company, the A.M. Todd Group, of Kalamazoo, Mich., Wilson said.

The A.M. Todd Group operates a mint-processing facility in Jefferson, north of Albany. It also owns Flavorite Laboratories in Memphis, Tenn., which processes spices and spice blends. The group has numerous warehouses in Portland because it exports many of its products to Asia, Wilson said.

Wilson said he’ll decide what to do with the Garfield site by the end of the year.

The property -- the former Melamine Decorative Laminate factory -- is at 888 Garfield St. It is owned by a partnership of local investors Tom Connor and Don Woolley.

The facilities snag is just one of many changes this year for East Earth Herb, a low-profile company that quietly built an international reputation.

Founded by Bill and Peggy Brevoort in 1971, the company grew from "a true hippie operation," as Bill Brevoort has called it, importing ginseng and other medicinal herbs from China, to an 85-employee enterprise with an estimated $7 million in annual sales. The firm produces concentrated herbal extracts for the $4 billion a year dietary-supplements industry.

Last April, the Brevoorts and Charlie Bigelow, a third business partner, sold a majority stake of East Earth Herb to A.M. Todd Group. The Brevoorts and Bigelow wanted a strong financial and strategic partner to help East Earth Herb keep up with the growth and change in the industry.

The combined company changed its name to A.M. Todd Botanicals in October.

This month, Todd bought the remaining outstanding shares of East Earth Herb stock. The price was not diclosed.

"This was a planned and agreed-upon sequence," Wilson said.

With the transaction, Bigelow and the Brevoorts will become consultants to the A.M. Todd Group.

Amid the restructuring and market slowdown, Todd has cut its Eugene staff to about 60 employees, said Dave Doty, technical services director in Eugene.

The lower head count and the company’s uncertainty about the Garfield Street property isn’t a sign that Todd is ambivalent about Eugene, Wilson emphasized.

"We’re dedicated to a location in Eugene," he said, adding that the area’s educated work force is one of its greatest attributes.

"We’re not in any way, shape or form abandoning Eugene," Wilson said.

Todd is trying to find someone to sublet the Garfield site because of slower growth in the herbal market and because the property isn’t an ideal match for the company, he said.

"I probably wouldn’t have leased that building," Wilson said, adding that he prefers to build a new facility.

The sprawling plant on Garfield was built in 1957 as a warehouse for American Steel & Supply Co. Paneling maker Melamine Decorative Laminate bought it in 1987. A decade later, Melamine’s owner shut the plant. The local Connor-Woolley partnership bought the building and 6.26-acre parcel in July 1997 for $2,425,000.

Bob McNutt, a broker with the McNutt Group, said he has listed the property for about two weeks and shown it four or five times. The building would be suitable for light manufacturing or a warehouse or distribution center, he said.

East Earth Herb signed a 10-year lease for the property in December 1998, with plans to boost capacity fivefold. The firm figured the renovated facility could process an estimated 550,000 pounds of raw herbs a month, compared with the 110,000 pounds the firm processed at its other Eugene location.

East Earth Herb had been growing at rates of 30 percent to 50 percent a year in the late ‘90s, Doty said. Supplements such as ginseng, echinacea and St. John’s wort were all the rage. But the growth rates dipped last year.

Now, industry experts say it is clear the entire national herb industry was caught up in its own dizzying success, which led to inflated growth expectations.

"A 40 percent growth rate in any industry is abnormal," Wilson said.

Expectations of ever-growing sales caused suppliers to process more herbs and prompted new players to enter the market, industry analysts say. That led to oversupply and pressure to cut prices.

"It’s not that consumers aren’t real positive about (herbal) supplements," said Nancy Nachman-Hunt, editor of Natural Business, a Boulder, Colo.-based journal covering the natural products industry. "There’s just too much product in the pipeline right now. The expectation is that that pipeline will clear out probably by the end of the year."

Another factor was mass-market retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Kmart, entering the business. "They have their own sources of supply and can sell this stuff for a lot less," Nachman-Hunt said.

The recent market slump is enough to prompt some herb suppliers to reach for St. John’s wort. The purported aid for depression generated lots of interest several years ago, but now sales have leveled off.

That is an oft-repeated pattern in an industry propelled by the huge rise and inevitable wane of popularity of specific herbal products. Echinacea was a big hit in 1996.

St. John’s wort followed in 1997, said Grant Ferrier, editor of San Diego-based Nutrition Business Journal. "There was no real breakthrough product last year," he said.

Also, herbal products failed to spread into the mass market as quickly as the industry had hoped, he said.

Only about six percent of Americans buy an herbal supplement product each month, according to the Nutrition Business Journal’s data.

The industry journal predicts that the herbal supplement industry will grow 4 percent this year and 5 percent to 7 percent next year.

Those estimates could change, depending on the nature and timing of the next herbal craze.

"We’re dedicated to a location in Eugene. We’re not in any way, shape or form abandoning Eugene."

14. Malaysian Flora May Offer Bio-Pharmaceutical Compounds
KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 24, AsiaPulse -- Malaysia’s rich bio-diversity and the traditional use of plants and herbs as medicine by different cultures provide opportunities for identifying useful bio-active compounds in plant species, said a bio-technology expert today.

Dr Robert K. Lee, a Malaysian who is currently a director at the Health Sciences and Technology Division in the Harvard University-Massachusetts Institute Technology, said these opportunities might be realised by estabilishing a chemical library and database to document and house useful indigenous species or their extracts.

"The development of the chemical library and database may be facilitated by the contributions of Malaysian scientists, by collaboration between Malaysian universities, international universities, research centres and the bio-pharmaceutical industry," he said.

Speaking on the subject of "Investment Opportunities in Agriculture Biotechnology" at a seminar here, Dr Lee said that Malaysia is one of the world hotspots of biodiversity with its 12,000 flowering plant species that are thought to have medicinal purposes.

However, only 100 species have been systematically evaluated for medicinal properties, he added.

"The potential economic value of natural resources might well be realised by discovering novel, non-obvious uses for medicinal plants, or by discovering new methods for isolating bio-active chemicals.

"Intellectual property generated by such discoveries can be the basis for the further development of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries in Malaysia," said Dr Lee.

He said that biotechnology has increasingly become a dynamic healthcare factor during the last two or three years.

He pointed out that the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter genomics index gained 345 percent and 362 percent over the last six and two months, respectively compared with the American Stock Exchange drug index which gained on three percent and five percent during the same periods.

"A major reason for the growth of the genomics-biotechnology sector is its increasingly relevance for the pharmaceutical discovery," he added.

The one-day seminar themed "Investment Opportunities in the Agriculture Sector" organised by the Agriculture Ministry, was officiated by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad Monday.

15. China Urged to Develop Convenient Herbal Medicines
SHIJIAZHUANG, April 29, Xinhua -- Chinese herbal medical experts have urged to establish a national herbal medicine laboratory to develop herbal medicines that meet international demands.

Medical experts including Li Benyu from the China Medical Sciences University and Yao Xixian from the Hebei Medical Sciences University said that the laboratory should accelerate developing traditional Chinese herbal medicines in new forms including capsule, condensed pilular, minute pilular and cream to make them convenient to carry and easy to take.

China holds only a very small share in the world herbal medicine market although the nation has become increasing well- known globally in herbal medical treatment of tumors, vascular diseases and other illnesses.

Some other Asian countries, however, have become the world’s leading producers of herbal medicine after importing Chinese ingredients, according to an official with the Ministry of Public Health.

China must do a lot more in developing its herbal medicines and come up with medicines which are effective in curing diseases and also acceptable internationally, according to the experts.

16. China’s Sichuan Province Shifts Focus to Herbal Medicines
CHENGDU, April 23, Xinhua -- Southwest China’s Sichuan Province has shifted the focus of pharmaceutical development from chemical crude drugs to herbal medicine and preparations to make full use of its local resources.

At present, the province has 290 pharmaceutical and medical instruments enterprises. The gross output value of Sichuan’s pharmaceutical industry was 8.5 billion yuan in 1999, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. The sales value of pharmaceutical products came to 7.2 billion yuan, up 10 percent.

The sales by state-owned enterprises and enterprises with a controlling stake for the state climbed to 2.65 billion yuan in 1999, an increase of 3 percent over 1998.

The gross output value of Sichuan’ pharmaceutical industry is expected to reach 9.5 billion yuan this year, up 11.7 percent over 1999. The sales income of state-owned enterprises will come to 2.8 billion yuan, an increase of 5.6 percent.

17. Traditional Medicine Preferred by 44% in China
BEIJING, April 22, Xinhua -- Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has played a vital role in safeguarding the health of the Chinese people who make up one fourth of the world’s population, according to the State Administration of TCM.

A national survey of some 80,000 residents show that 44 percent of Chinese prefer TCM therapy or the treatment integrated with Western medicine.

There are more than 2,800 hospitals and more clinics specializing in traditional medicine nationwide, as well as some 510,000 medical professionals who received 150 million outpatient last year and provided hospitalization service to 2.87 million people.

Medical professionals also undertake the task of disease prevention during disaster relief, health promotion, health care in urban communities and health education.

In the vast rural areas, the home to over 800 million Chinese, some 50, 000 township hospitals and 730,000 village clinics using TCM therapies provide one third of outpatient services and one fourth of hospital treatments. More than half of village doctors use herbal medicines while prescribing chemical drugs.

So far, the amount of TCM medicine producers has surpassed 1, 000, or one sixth of the country’s total pharmaceutical firms, which produce more than 8,000 kinds of drugs each year.

Some major breakthroughs have been made by Chinese researchers in the treatment of health-threatening diseases, including cardio and cerebral vascular illnesses, cancer, and hepatitis through TCM therapy and the integrated treatment of the TCM and the western medicine.

18. Traditional and Modern Medicine to Be Provided to Mexican Indians
MEXICO CITY, Apr. 21, IPS -- Modern and traditional indigenous medicine are being linked in a maternal and infant health program in three Mexican states, with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Indigenous women and children in Oaxaca and Yucatan, in Mexico’s south and southeast, and in Puebla, in the east, began receiving medical attention in March under a project that may become a model for the entire nation.

With an investment of some $600,000 from a Japanese foundation, the IDB signed an agreement with the Mexican government’s National Indigenous Institute (INI) to provide health services for 15 communities over the next two years.

Women in several indigenous areas, part of the cultural mosaic of the 62 native groups found in Mexico, live in extreme poverty and face severe social problems.

"In the search for solutions to the historic lags in indigenous women’s health, their medical techniques are being combined with modern medicine to create a multi-cultural model," explained the INI’s assistant director for Social Welfare, Atala Perez.

Built on community participation, the program attempts to be an "alternative that combines knowledge of modern medicine with ancestral knowledge" gathered by shamans, midwives and herbalists, Perez told IPS.

The more than 10 million native peoples in Mexico come up against some major social barriers as nearly three million speak an indigenous language instead of Spanish and 44 percent of this population over age 15 are illiterate, according to INI statistics.

Over 35 percent of Mexico’s indigenous peoples do not have electricity in their homes, 58 percent lack access to clean water and 88 percent live in houses without drainage systems.

Indigenous men have a life expectancy of 66 years, while the average for the overall Mexican male population is 71 years. Indigenous women live to age 71 on average, compared to the general female population’s 75 years.

Indigenous women have an average of 3.8 children each, versus the 2.8 children per mother nationally. The INI explains that this data follows certain ethnic cultural norms, such as the belief that children can help provide the family income.

The principal health problems among indigenous children under age five are related to malnutrition, which affects 58 percent of this population. Non-indigenous children in Mexico also suffer malnutrition, but at the lower rate of 39 percent.

An INI study underscores the role of the indigenous patriarchal system that reigns within the family group. This factor, in addition to widespread poverty, has generally prevented women from taking part in development opportunities.

In this sense, the programs that target indigenous women must be based on the native cultures, customs and languages, and incorporate the participation of the husband and children.

The program for developing a medical maternal-infant model in the indigenous communities "is governed, therefore, by a policy that preserves the cultural heritage and the diversity of the peoples," Perez stressed.

In its experimental phase, the program is being implemented in communities found in the municipalities of Sotuta, Yucatan, in Cuetzalan, Puebla, and in Santiago Nacaltepec, Oaxaca.

The first step is to evaluate the needs in order to design a basic health strategy and, ultimately, it will involve training personnel to work in the health centers.

The native cultures hold broad knowledge of botany and the healing properties of regional plants have been scientifically established. Just as their ancestors did thousands of years ago, traditional therapists and specialists use this vast knowledge to cure physical ailments.

Based on a compilation of testimonies about traditional medicine in Mexico, the INI underscores that the country’s native "doctors" have long recognized and treated diseases affecting any part of the human body.

According to a study by INI, which has been responsible since 1948 for Mexico’s official indigenous policy, only in the southern sierra of impoverished Oaxaca state is there a well-organized structure of traditional doctors, in this case involving 56 individuals.

Among the most important specialists are the healers, usually men, who treat 50 percent of the region’s indigenous residents, while traditional midwives attend to 29 percent of the area’s births. Another six percent of therapists practice spiritual "cleansing."

These traditional native doctors are considered essential within indigenous communities for preserving and passing on their ancestral knowledge.

In the indigenous world, which also heavily relies on symbolism and myth, there are those who, after having a dream or "revelation" from God, simply choose to dedicate themselves to healing, according to INI.

19. Tibet to Promote Plateau Agriculture, Tourism and Herbal Medicine
LHASA, April 21, Xinhua -- Tibet will take advantage of the ongoing western development drive to promote its plateau agriculture, tourism, and Tibetan medicines and mineral products, said Legqog, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, today.

He noted that crops and vegetables grown on the plateau are of high quality and pollution free due to abundant sunshine and irrigation from melting snow.

"This makes Tibet an ideal green food production center," said the chairman who pledged to build Tibet into a highland barley production center.

Tibet also has great potential for developing its tourism, he said, citing its unique landscape, abundant wildlife, and mysterious religious rites.

The region will also make further efforts to promote Tibetan medicines and mineral products since it is rich in medicinal herbs and has 94 kinds of minerals.

Tibet will give priority to these four areas, and will invite foreign investment to develop them, he noted.

20. Retired Sudanese Teacher Devises Herbal Cure for Goitre
By Yahya el Hassan

KHARTOUM, Sudan, April 19, Panafrican News Agency -- A retired school teacher in Khartoum has now become goitre-free after taking a herbal concoction which several Sudanese doctors confirm can cure both active and inactive swelling goitres.

Goitre is defined as "the morbid swelling of the thyroid gland."

An abnormal secretion of T3 hormone causes swelling goitre after emotional shocks, unusual happiness or due to iodine deficiency.

Major symptoms are a weakening of the body and a deformity of the neck that grows a tumour of abnormal size.

Palpitations (irregular heart beat), bulging eyes and nervousness are some of the other goitre symptoms. The patient also undergoes a remarkable loss of weight despite high appetite for food.

"The goitre eats what you eat," a doctor in Khartoum explained.

The disease mostly attacks women although men are also often infected.

The retired teacher, Salhuddin Mahjoub, said that he suddenly felt a tumour growth in late 1997, which his doctor told him was an active swelling of the goitre.

After a careful examination, the doctor prescribed to have a surgery to remove the gland, an idea Mahjoub detested.

"Surgery costs about 800 US dollars, a sum I could not afford," he said.

Six months later, Mahjoub felt a sudden dislike for tea and decided to replace it with local tea flavours commonly used in Sudan instead.

At first, he used a mixture of "nana’a" (peppermint), girfa (cinnamon) and zangabeel (ginger). Then, he added four other herbs he declined to name.

According to Majbouh, this substitute improved his health. "I became more active and started sweating heavily. The sweat sometimes felt like wax and sometimes like gum," he said.

Thirty-seven days later, his wife noticed that the six- centimetre tumour had disappeared from his neck.

After a thorough checkup, Dr el Rasheed Abdulrahim el Mubarak, who had followed his case right from the beginning, confirmed that the tumour had gone and the gland was functioning normally.

"The gland that developed into the size of a tennis ball has returned to its normal size and is now functioning normally," Mubarak, a consultant on tropical medicine at the health ministry, told PANA.

He said this development encouraged him to try it on five other goitre victims. "The treatment was successful in all five patients. All patients are doing very well and their tumours have disappeared," he added.

He said, however, that he was still observing the patients to see if there will be any reversals in their respective situations.

"This is because the treatment is new," he explained.

But he confirmed that all the other symptoms of swelling goitres had disappeared in the patients who took the drug.

"There are no more bulging eyes, no irregular heart beats, the skin regained its smooth touch and the rapid hair fall has stopped," he said. "What I can guarantee is that no side effects had appeared on all patients."

Mubark added that Mahjoub stopped taking the drug a year ago after he was completely cured.

He said the cure is very cheap compared with chemical drugs and surgical operations. Chemical treatment usually takes a long time and in some cases it has to be continued for life.

But Mubarak also declined to disclose the three-other components of the composition. "I want Mahjoub to benefit from his finding. I want his rights reserved," he said.

The two men said they were already looking for a pharmaceutical company willing manufacture it commercially. They were also working on modalities for a patent.

Researchers of the Sudanese Atomic Energy Commission have also confirmed the viability of the treatment.

Hamid Seidna Hamid, a researcher in radiochemistry, has written a number of reports about patients who took the drug.

He described the case of a 45-year-old female patient, who has also been cured after using the drug.

"After a month of taking the drug, her huge tumour has disappeared, her skin and hair became soft once again, her menstruation became regular, hypertension returned to normal and she regained her clear vision," he said.

In another report Hamid wrote: "We were surprised by the excellent and quick response of not only active goitre patients but also of inactive goitre patients to the drug. What characterises this treatment is that the goitre swelling disappears completely after the treatment and also all accompanying symptoms."

21. Demand For Herbal Medicine Shoots Up in Kenya
NAIROBI, April 13, The Nation -- Maasai herbalists, some from as far as Tanzania, have invaded Western Kenya and are doing roaring business as more people turn to traditional medicine.

A survey by the Nation showed that "shuka" clad Maasai, among them breast feeding mothers, are roaming major towns in Western Kenya to market their medicine, which they claim treats up to 58 different ailments.

In Kisumu, the herbalists said their clients included prominent personalities who bought their concoctions in large quantities. Prices range from Sh300 to Sh600 a dose.

The Nyanza Provincial Medical Officer, Dr Ambrose Misore, said health authorities were aware of the presence of the herbalists and had no quarrel with them "so long as people were happy with their services".

"As demand for health services continues to rise, the Ministry of Health welcomes individuals or groups who can supplement its efforts through herbal medicine", said Dr Misore.

He said traditional medicine played a crucial role in the society and could not be ignored.

A group leader for the herbalists, Stephen Kimau Saningo, said typhoid, malaria and asthma medicine was in high demand.

Most of the herbalists interviewed said they had not been to school but were trained traditional herbalists.

Thirty-five from Ngiito near Arusha in Tanzania said there were 21 Maasais selling herbal medicine in Kisumu alone. Others are in Nakuru, Kakamega, Busia, Luanda, Bungoma and Kisii.

22. Herbal Medicine Threatens Some Wild Plants
By Kieran Murray

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 13, Reuters -- Western consumers’ growing passion for herbal medicine is threatening the survival of some of the most valuable wild plants, scientists and conservationists told a U.N. gathering in Nairobi.

Some plants used to cure ailments for centuries, especially in the Far East, are in danger because of worldwide population growth and the rapid expansion of the Western market, they say.

Many consumers are unaware that some all-natural potions, lotions, teas, pills and creams in pharmacies or trendy health stores may be made using endangered wild plants, delegates to the U.N. Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) said this week.

"When you see something in the shop, don’t assume that buying it is of no consequence to the environment," said Susan Lieberman, who heads the office of scientific authority at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"It may be natural, but it’s not necessarily good for nature."

In a bid to save vulnerable species before the decline becomes irreversible, governments and scientists have turned to imposing restrictions on international trade and, in a few cases, to total trade bans.

Trade in at least 14 plant species is already regulated because of the pressures of herbal medicine, and six more are being considered.

They include Asian ginseng, China’s happytree and desert-living cistanche, the southern African devil’s claw, the monkey puzzle tree of South America and the herb of spring Adonis, which grows in grasslands from Central Europe to Siberia.

Officials expect the measures to be passed as there is virtually no opposition.

- From Cancer Cures to Health Tonics -

The uses for the endangered plants are as diverse as their natural habitats.

Ginseng is used as a general health tonic and the happytree is harvested for camptothecin, a chemical used in cancer treatments.

Devil’s claws are used in pharmaceutical drugs for diabetes and hepatitis and the cistanche has been used for 1,800 years as a natural tonic believed to improve kidney function.

Although trade poses no danger to most of the world’s thousands of medicinal plants, and habitat loss is a more serious threat, scientists warn that some wild species may not be there for future generations unless they are protected now.

"Wild ginseng could disappear in a couple of decades. It is happening before our eyes," said Roland Melisch of Traffic Network, which monitors trade in animal and plant species.

Wild Asian ginseng now grows only in two provinces of far eastern Russia, one province in China, and possibly parts of North and South Korea but populations have fallen dramatically and up to 1,300 pounds are smuggled out of Russia every year.

The bulk of Asian ginseng in trade comes from commercial farms but wild plants are under serious threat. Russia is now leading the call for trade controls to stop poaching.

But that will be no easy task because wild ginseng roots are extremely valuable. The finest specimens -- old, weighing up to 7 ounces and shaped like a man -- can sell for thousands of dollars per pound.

The trade in North American ginseng has been regulated since the 1970s but illegal poaching inside America’s national parks continues, and may be gathering pace.

Lieberman said experts were shocked when they went to check wild ginseng populations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which lies mainly in Tennessee.

"The biologists couldn’t find any healthy populations there because it had been poached," she said. "It was once a very thriving population."

23. Saskatchewan Farmers Look at Herbal Alternative to Traditional Crops
REGINA, April 11, M2 Communications -- The Saskatchewan grainbelt experienced a winter with mean temperatures that were above normal, and snowfall amounts that were generally below normal, according to Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food’s first weekly crop report for 2000.

Projected seeded area of 33 million acres is two per cent above the 10 year (1990-99) average of 32.3 million acres. Decreases are expected in spring wheat, flax, canola, mustard and sunflower acreages. Durum, barley, lentil, field pea and chickpea area is expected to increase. The area seeded to oats, canary seed and spring rye is expected to remain about the same. Summerfallow area is estimated to remain about the same as in 1999.

As planting approaches, there is much uncertainty and indecision over what crops should be seeded this spring. Farmers are looking at many options, including newer specialty crops such as dry beans, herbs and spices.

24. Herb Business News
Chai-Na-Ta: Creditors Back Financial Restructuring Plan

LANGLEY, British Columbia, Apr 20, Business Wire -- Chai-Na-Ta Corp. President and CEO, Gerry Gill, announced today that its general and secured creditors have approved Chai-Na-Ta’s financial restructuring plan.

Chai-Na-Ta, the leading producer of North American ginseng, filed for creditors’ protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) in January, 2000. Today, the Company was successful in obtaining the necessary support of 50 per cent plus one of the voting creditors and two-thirds of the financial backing at a general creditors meeting.

The Company has also received the backing of its secured creditor John Hancock Life Insurance Company. John Hancock have reduced their $23.9 million loan to a $10 million loan and $13.9 million in non-voting convertible preferred shares, at a conversion price of $0.6804 per share, resulting in 20,399,149 non-voting preferred shares. The preferred shares are convertible into common shares on a one-for-one basis. The interest rate on the balance of the loan was also reduced from 18% to 10.6% per annum.

Gill also said Chai-Na-Ta has entered into a subscription agreement with Road King Infrastructure Limited for a $5 million equity investment at a conversion price of $0.6804 per share, resulting in 7,348,740 common shares in the Company. Road King’s investment will give it just over 50% voting control of the Company on an undiluted basis.

Road King, a Hong Kong Exchange-listed company, is a major investor and operator of toll roads in China, with approximately CDN$1 billion in investments. Road King’s 1999 revenue was CDN$125 million, with reported profits of CDN$116 million. Road King also has a subsidiary, Herb King Life Science Enterprises Ltd., which has a traditional Chinese medicine company in China. Their proven business experience and contacts in China represent excellent opportunities to access further distribution networks and new working capital - a strategic fit for the Company’s continuing operations.

"This is obviously great news for our operations, our shareholders and the employees of our Company," Gill said today. "With the restructuring program, this new investment, and a solid strategic partner, our Company will be one of the strongest financially-structured companies in the industry."

The new financial plan must still be approved by the TSE, the courts and Chai-Na-Ta shareholders at the April 25th Annual General Meeting. Gill expects the new plan will be supported by the shareholders. The subscription agreement with Road King must also be accepted at the AGM and approved by the TSE.

Under the financial restructuring proposal, all creditors with an investment of $1,500 or less are guaranteed a 100 per cent return. All other creditors, up to $25,000, are to receive 10 per cent of their investment in cash to a maximum of $2,500, and 15% of the balance of monies owing in excess of $25,000 in common shares issued at book value, at the Company’s last fiscal year-end of November 30, 1999, of CDN$.6804 per share. These common shares will have a one year hold period from trading.

Chai-Na-Ta’s financial difficulties have been influenced by historically-depressed bulk prices for North American ginseng. Crop prices dropped to a record low of CDN$12 per pound in 1999. The Company believes the market will rebound this year as smaller producers cease operations and the industry consolidates. Despite an industry record harvest in 1999, almost all of last year’s harvest has been purchased - a sign that demand is continually rising.

"We see a tremendous market opportunity for our Company in the very near future and with our new financial plan in place, we are ideally positioned to realize our goals," Gill said.

Under the financial restructuring proposal, the Company will reduce its debt by approximately $22 million. Assets at the Company’s last fiscal year end of November 30, 1999 were over $46 million.

Chai-Na-Ta is the world’s largest supplier of North American ginseng. The Company farms, processes and distributes North American ginseng as bulk root, and supplies standardized extract powder for the manufacture of value-added ginseng-based products.

Omni Nutraceuticals: Buys Two Web Sites

LOS ANGELES, April 20, PRNewswire -- Omni Nutraceuticals, Inc., announced today it has signed a binding letter of intent to acquire and its sister information portal site, CEO and president, Klee Irwin commented, "These two Internet identities are exciting acquisitions for us., with its 14,000 products and with its thousands of users utilizing one of the best on-line health libraries on the Web, will beautifully complement our Internet based distribution channel and presence --, the industry’s pioneering health products site."

From its humble beginnings in 1994 as a health and nutrition catalog company to an online leader in 2000, has been able to grow sales to the $2 million plus mark with virtually no burn rate or outside capital. This Internet based company even reported a modest EBITDA profit during its last year of operation.

"The merger between and gives us a unique opportunity to create an online health community offering users far more value than merely supplying supplements at a discounted price. A clear win for all," said president, Chip Engelmann.

As pioneers in the burgeoning on-line supplement/health industry, and’s foresight of the future of the on-line, as well as the traditional health industry, has been both unrivaled and praised by Internet industry leaders, including PC World and List Universe.

Launched in 1997,, a free, user-supported health "portal" linking tens-of-thousands of articles on health news, research, nutrition, medicine, alternative therapies, fitness and lifestyle, has become an industry default source for on-line research and is utilized by health professionals and lay persons on a daily basis. Unlike web search engines, screens all articles and data for irrelevant or "commercial" material, retrieving information from research institutes, health magazines, botanical organizations, news journals, traditional and alternative medical associations, support groups, etc.-- everything from USA Today to JAMA [Journal of the American Medical Association].

VitaminDiscount/ co-Owner, Julie Engelmann said, "We are enthusiastic about how our strengths and goals fit perfectly into the concept. This merger enables us both to move forward rapidly with creative plans that will ultimately give customers many advantages and a whole new forum for exchange and information."

Omni Nutraceuticals, Inc. is a leading formulator and supplier of natural health, herbal and nutritional supplement products for consumers, and is a proud member of The Organic Trade Association, Sustain, United Plant Savers, Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine, American Preventative Medical Association, etc. Its product lines include popular brand name market leaders such as Diet System Six(TM), Nature’s Secret(R), Harmony Formulas(R), Applied Nutrition(R), Dr. Linus Pauling Vitamins(R), Lifestyle Control Formulas(TM), Inholtra(R), 151 Energy Bar(TM), Cholestaid(TM), Veromax(TM), etc. The company’s products are sold in specialty natural health, nutrition and food retail stores worldwide., the company’s leading Internet based distribution channel, was the first major on-line retailer of supplements. This Internet company sells over 16,000 health related products to consumers around the globe.

PlanetRx: Unveils Private-Label Products

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., April 20, PRNewswire -- PlanetRx, a leading Internet healthcare destination for commerce, content, and community, today unveiled a line of PlanetRx-branded vitamins, herbs, and supplements. PlanetRx customers will now able to select PlanetRx-label products at prices lower than the leading brands.

The first line of private-label products that will be available at PlanetRx is a wide assortment of vitamins, herbs, and supplements, including multivitamins for adults and children, calcium, St. John’s wort, and ginkgo biloba.

"Providing our customers with quality products at an affordable price is a leading priority at PlanetRx," said Allan Goldman, vice president of merchandising at PlanetRx. "Our new product line gives customers the opportunity to buy the best products available from a name that they can trust, at prices lower than other brands. This is just another example of how PlanetRx offers our customers the best online shopping experience possible."

HealthMart: Canada’s Largest Online Selection of Health Products

VANCOUVER, April 18, CNW-PRN -- "With six departments in our new store offering thousands of health-related products at competitive prices, HealthMart is undoubtedly the most convenient online shopping experience in Canada". So says Tom Riessner, Manager of HealthMart, Canada’s source for health products. "While we stock the usual range of everyday health items, we offer specialty items seldom carried by other online stores", says Riessner. "These range from post mastectomy products, to electric scooters and first aid kits supplied by St. John ambulance. Our philosophy is breadth of selection, a convenient, secure, online shopping experience and improving the quality of life at home for our customers", he added.

In addition to providing Canadians with a wide variety of health and beauty products at Canadian prices, HealthMart customers can access invaluable health information from Canada’s largest provider of health information,, to assist them in making informed choices.

HealthMart features many products which have been selected on the recommendations of Canadian health care professionals, including items for customers with arthritis, asthma, diabetes and pain such as pain relief medications, support braces, and blood pressure monitors. Other specialty products include personal health products selected to address specific health needs, such as diabetes and blood pressure and beauty products to improve personal appearance such as skin care, foot care, vitamins, herbs and health supplements.

Healthy and Trim: New Dot Com

GUILFORD, Ind., April 17, PRNewswire -- Susan Lewis always tried to live life healthy and trim, so when starting an Internet company became a reality, using that name seemed a natural. Healthy and Trim is one of the Hoosier State’s newest e-commerce companies selling natural nutritional supplements online.

Although Susan is involved with a few different natural companies, the flagship companies Healthy and Trim represents are Metabolife and Reliv.

Metabolife is the premier weight loss supplement available on the market today. It works by increasing the body’s metabolism and energy, while decreasing the cravings that make any diet hard to maintain. The Metabolife company has also recently introduced Chinac, a blend of ancient Chinese herbal therapies refined by the evolution of science.

Reliv is a line of natural nutritional supplements that supply the vitamins and minerals that the body craves, but that are no longer available naturally in the foods that are sold today.

TheNaturalPharmacist: Licensing Agreement for Health Care Content

ROSEVILLE, Calif., Apr 17, Business Wire -- TheNaturalPharmacist (TNP) and Consumer Health Interactive (CHI) have announced a licensing agreement through which TNP will become a premier provider of alternative health care content for CHI, a leading provider of web-based marketing and operational solutions for health plan sponsors.

Under the agreement, members of multiple regional health care provider sites whose content is managed by CHI, will have access to’s extensive database on herbs, vitamins, mineral and supplements, as well as the conditions for which they are used.

"Our partnership with CHI enables us to provide science-based information about herbs and supplements with which health plan members can make informed decisions about their health care options," said Matthew H. Carleson, president of TNP. "We’re pleased to see health plans responding to their members’ demand for this type of information."

Adding science-based natural health information to these provider sites will allow member access to TNP’s Natural Health Encyclopedia, which contains science-based information on 181 health conditions and entries for 363 vitamins, minerals, herbs and supplements, as well as interactions for over 1,000 trade, generic, and families of drugs.

"Every day millions of health plan members turn to the Internet to obtain information about alternative medicine, herbs and supplements," said Ben Wilson, president of CHI. "Through TNP our clients can be assured that the information their members are accessing is accurate, reliable and comes from respected sources."

Omni Nutraceuticals: 1999 Results

LOS ANGELES, April 14, PRNewswire -- Omni Nutraceuticals, Inc. today released its year end results. The company lost $8 million on sales of $35 million for 1999. Sales increased from $31 million the year before.

The company reported that it has no cash. Its inventories doubled to $6 million from a year earlier.

Omni distributes over 16,000 health related products on-line to a global consumer base. Omni Nutraceuticals, Inc. is a leading formulator and supplier of natural health, herbal and nutritional supplement products for consumers, and is a proud member of The Organic Trade Association, Sustain, United Plant Savers, Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine, American Preventative Medical Association, etc.

Phytopharm: Ups Manufacturing Clout Near Its Indian Plantations

By Michael Reid

LONDON, April 13, Dow Jones -- Phytopharm, the maker of plant-based drugs, Thursday said it’s taking a 10% stake in an Indian manufacturing site located within miles of its plantations of medicinal plant crops like the herb turmeric.

The move signals Phytopharm’s intention to crank up its manufacturing of its leading products P54, used for arthritis in dogs and cancer chemoprevention, and P56, used for hepatitis. The U.K.-based biotech group hopes to launch P54 as a veterinary treatment next year.

Phytopharm, which has almost a dozen potential plant-based drugs in its portfolio, has taken the stake in Tumkur Chemicals Ltd., a manufacturing site in Bangalore, India. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. The deal follows a similar manufacturing investment in South Africa last year.

Phytopharm and its Indian partner Rallis India Ltd., closely associated with Tumkur, have grown thousands of acres of plant crops in the Bangalore region which are used in P54 and P56. Now Phytopharm will be able to extract the vital ingredients of the plants at the manufacturing site on the same day they’ve been plucked from the nearby fields.

"Part of the trick of doing this successfully is to have GMP (good manufacturing practice) compliant manufacturing, and it has to be close to where we grow the raw materials," Phytopharm chief executive Richard Dixey told Dow Jones Newswires.

He said the same-day extraction of the plants saves on transport, shipping and other logistical inefficiencies. This is significant given the sheer volume of plants - 100 metric tonsan acre in the case of turmeric.

Turmeric, which contains curcumin, has a number of medicinal attractions. It stops the body from overproducing inflammatory enzymes and may be key in the treatment of colon and breast cancers, which grow by overexpressing this enzyme.

Phytopharm’s other plant-based products, dubbed "botanicals" by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and "herbiceuticals" by other industry followers, include treatments for alopecia, or baldness, appetite suppression and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Softbank: Takes 20% Stake in Herbal Medicine Company

TOKYO, Apr 13, AsiaPulse -- Softbank Investment Corp, a venture capital arm of the Softbank Corp. group, has taken a 20% stake in Kusurinihondo, a maker and retailer of Chinese herbal medicines, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun has learned.

The Softbank unit purchased 121,300 newly issued shares in Kusurinihondo for 955 million yen (US$8.93 million). With 20% of Kusurinihondo’s outstanding shares, Softbank Investment has become the company’s second largest shareholder.

Kusurinihondo now plans to strengthen its online business, and it aims to go public next spring. It will also launch a Web site as early as this fall to distribute information on herbal medicines and prescriptions, and it is set to offer online courses on pharmacy management.

HealthZone: Announces Acquisition of

LOS ANGELES, April 12, PRNewswire -- In keeping with the company’s aggressive role-up strategy, HealthZone announced today it has signed a binding term sheet to acquire one of the online health industry’s most dynamic San Francisco-based players --

"In our aggressive role-up strategy to consolidate companies within the online health products sector, we are pleased to have become one of our first acquisition partners," said HealthZone President/CEO, Klee Irwin. He continued, "Their historically forward-thinking and first-to-market aggressive entrepreneurial style is consistent with both our short and long-term goals for HealthZone -- a win/win for our two organizations, but especially for online consumers. We will accelerate our acquisition activities and plan to announce our second dot-com merger of the year in the very near future, perhaps as early as next week."

Revered for pioneering many of the industry’s finest, now well-known, state-of-the-art nutraceutical formulas,’s uncompromising commitment to alternative health solutions has received a flurry of attention from the press via national media coverage on Larry King Live, Nightline, Donahue, National Public Radio, etc. even accompanied the Lollapalooza tour serving its acclaimed Smart Drinks(R)-a combination of fruit juice, amino acids, and vitamins-a concept well over a decade ahead of its time.

On a shoestring investment of only $12,000, SmartBasics began in 1991 as a catalog company, and in 1995 launched their World Wide Web presence with over 1,000 content pages -- an impressive industry accomplishment, even by today’s standards-while averaging annual growth of approximately 30%. The company is now worth well over $1 million. carries only the highest quality cutting-edge formulas, based on careful research, as well as the company’s own trials-products often available only in Europe or through The company’s focus is in the areas of (i) Cognition Enhancement, (ii) Immune Support, and (iii) Anti-Aging.

"We’re extremely effective in our niche marketing now," said CEO Bob Huff, "But in order to spread our message we needed the experience, expertise, and resources of a world-class organization like HealthZone."

Herbalife: Management-Led Buyout Fails

By Dave Pettit

LOS ANGELES, April 10, Dow Jones -- A management-led buyout of Herbalife International Inc. fell through Monday, sending shares sharply downward. Herbalife said MH Millennium Acquisition Corp. plans to terminate a buyout tender offer for Herbalife’s Class A and Class B shares. Millennium Acquisition is controlled and beneficially owned by Mark Hughes, the founder, chairman, president and chief executive of Herbalife.

Class A shares of Herbalife closed down 20.8%, by 3 1/8 to 11 7/8. Class B shares lost 25.6%, falling 3 13/16 to 11 1/16.

Hughes, who already owns or controls about 50% of Herbalife stock, offered in September to pay about $500 million in debt and company cash to take Herbalife private. Hughes said Monday that difficult conditions in the credit markets, particularly in the junk-bond market, made it impractical to obtain financing for the transaction, which became more expensive after a shareholder lawsuit.

"I am disappointed that the buyout transaction could not be consummated," Hughes said. "Unfortunately, the timing of the proposed transaction coincided with extremely adverse conditions in the credit markets - some of the worst conditions in years - for transactions of this type."

The company’s two share classes - "A," which carries voting rights, and "B," which doesn’t - had both surged in value after the deal was announced Sept. 13. The $17 price was a 42% premium to the closing price of the Class A shares the day before the deal was announced, and an 86% premium to the price of the B shares. Shares in Herbalife, founded in 1980 and public since 1986, had been dragged down by factors including earnings declines, costly expansions into new markets, concerns over regulatory controls and antipathy toward small caps.

Shareholders had challenged the buyout in court. As a result of a tentative settlement with the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Hughes agreed to pay holders 81 cents a share in cash in addition to the original $17 a share. The supplemental payment, which would also extend to the five million holders of DECS, or debt exchange for common stock, boosted the price of the transaction by about $20 million to $25 million.

MH Millennium and Herbalife’s board said they intend to terminate the agreement governing the buyout of Herbalife, a nutritional, weight-management and personal-care product marketer. The two parties added that all tendered stock will be returned.

Herbalife executives said they began talking with investment bankers about taking the company private in September 1998. Hughes said at the time that Herbalife hadn’t been rewarded in the public equity markets and that conditions weren’t likely to change.

Bioriginal: Opens Marketing Office in Europe

SASKATOON, Sask., April 4 -- Bioriginal Food and Science Corp., the world’s leading supplier of essential fatty acids, announced today that it is opening an office in Europe. According to President and CEO Rick Kulow, "Dave Sim, our Vice President of Research, will move to Europe in April to open and operate an office for Bioriginal Europe to be situated in the Netherlands." In addition to his responsibilities for the company’s research and development activities, Dave Sim also heads up Bioriginal’s business development work.

"Dave’s diverse background in science and marketing make him the perfect person to expand our markets, build and manage partnerships, seek out new technologies and product opportunities and enhance our knowledge of this strategically important geographical market," added Kulow.

Dave Sim notes that "we have established ourselves as the leading essential fatty acid company in North America and it make sense for us to build on this strength to enter one of the world’s biggest essential fatty acid markets. This is the next logical step in our global strategy".

The European presence enables Bioriginal to maximize the benefits of a recently signed agreement with the world’s largest fish oil company, Denofa, located in Norway. Denofa is the first of what Bioriginal hopes will be many strategic alliances that will be forged in the European Union. The relationship with Denofa makes Bioriginal a primary supplier of all the major essential fatty acid products including borage, evening primrose, flax and fish oils. These products are supported by a growing body of science that indicates significant health benefits for conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, skin conditions, and brain health.

In 1996, Bioriginal received the first Sabex award for Exports. This current move suggests that the company has built on its exporting capabilities and has taken another major step forward in becoming a world leader in its business. "The dynamics of our markets require us to take a proactive approach. It is a very competitive world out there and we need to be aware of what is happening around the world," asserts Sim. "A recent example is a significant reduction in evening primrose prices because of an excess supply of uncontracted production. Our new office will give us an increased market visibility to this type of market change."

Herbalife: Sales Up in First Quarter

LOS ANGELES, Apr 28, Business Wire -- Herbalife International Inc. today reported financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2000.

Retail sales for the 2000 first quarter increased 6.9 percent to $458.4 million from $428.8 million in the 1999 comparable quarter. Net sales for the 2000 first quarter, after the effect of distributor allowances, increased 7.8 percent to $244.0 million from $226.4 million in the same quarter a year ago.

In the first quarter, the company recorded a non-recurring charge of $9.5 million, equivalent to $0.18 per diluted share, relating to fees and expenses in connection with the recently announced termination of a previously proposed buy-out transaction. Net income for the current-year first quarter, including the non-recurring charge, was $5.9 million, or $0.19 per diluted share.

Excluding the non-recurring charge, net income for the first quarter was $11.6 million, or $0.37 per diluted share. In last year’s first quarter, the company reported net income of $11.7 million, or $0.38 per diluted share.

Smallflower: Blooms as Online Natural Health and Beauty Boutique

CHICAGO, April 27, PRNewswire -- Smallflower blooms to life as an online natural health and beauty boutique dedicated to helping their customers treat their bodies better. Unlike other online beauty sites, this eBusiness innovator offers its customers 124 years of experience in the health and body care industry, the largest in-house collection of natural soaps, the finest body care products and renowned, high quality herbal treatments from all over the globe.

Smallflower stands apart from Internet start-ups in that it traces its rich history back a century to Merz Apothecary, a Chicago-based European-style apothecary. The store’s original customer base consisted of European immigrants who craved the high quality customer care and diverse, exotic offerings missing from chain drug stores and beauty counters. Smallflower leverages Merz’ traditional approach, proven concept of customer care and service and its broad array of homeopathic, herbal and unique personal care products to bring them to a worldwide audience. The online boutique continues to offer high quality customer care via rich Web site content, personal email responses, a monthly email newsletter and the availability of personal service over the phone.

Smallflower allows shoppers to browse by country, choosing from such unique items as anti-stress lotion from England, soap from Portugal, or even eye cream from Israel. Visitors can also "shop by ailment," to find effective, holistic treatments for problems from cradle cap to athlete’s foot. A FlavorFinder function even allows customers to select product by scent or visitors can conduct a search using the more traditional product categories such as lotions, hair care and soaps.

Smallflower’s co-founders, Abdul and Anthony Qaiyum travel the world to seek out the finest products to expand on their globally renowned offerings, ranging from herbal extracts to rare fragrances and luxurious skin care products.

"The knowledge we’ve gained and the products we’ve experienced in our travels, coupled with constant customer feedback, have led us to develop an unbeatable array of natural health and beauty products," says Smallflower co-founder, Anthony Qaiyum. "Our site, gift guides and newsletters clearly provide natural solutions to fit every lifestyle and need."

Abdul, a pharmacist by trade, and his 26-year-old son Anthony are experts in identifying natural solutions for customer ailments. Combined, they have more than 40 years of experience in herbal remedies and holistic health solutions.

Smallflower provides visitors with seasonal healthcare and beauty advice derived from nature. With summer outdoor recreation just around the corner,’s online guide for lip care, sunburn prevention and post-sun skincare will help customers maintain a healthy glow in their skin. The online boutique is spearheading a "Bath of the Month" club to caress the bodies of even the most discriminating customer with products like Essentiel Elements Wake Up Rosemary Caviar for the Bath and Good Home Co. Orange Calendula Foaming Bath Oil that gently soothes and softens skin.

Not limited to aesthetics, Smallflower also targets athletes with its myriad of runner/marathon-themed herbal products. From boosting the runner’s immune system with oil of oregano to reducing muscle aches with arnica gel, this online beauty and bath boutique is poised to provide solutions for any customer that comes to mind.

Smallflower is an online natural health and beauty boutique dedicated to helping customers treat their bodies better. The solution-based site was launched in 1999 by father and son team Abdul and Anthony Qaiyum as an extension of their highly successful, Chicago-based brick and mortar store, Merz Apothecary. brings more than 125 years of experience, wisdom, and body and health solutions to the Web. It also brings an expansive array products including natural and luxury soaps, high quality skin care lines, dietary supplements and herbal extracts.

Paracelsian: To Manufacture Environmental Assays in China

ITHACA, N.Y., April 26, PRNewswire -- Paracelsian, Inc. announced today it has signed a Letter of Intent with a company in China to cooperate in the development of a facility for the high volume manufacture of Paracelsian’s Ah-Immunoassay kits. The Letter of Intent with Beijing Health-Way Management Company is a significant step in Paracelsian’s strategy to establish low cost manufacturing capability in China that is sufficient for meeting potentially high demand from Kubota Corporation in Japan and from other markets in Asia and Europe.

"The near-term market for dioxin testing in Japan is $400-600 million annually, and Kubota believes that a screening method such as Paracelsian’s Ah-Immunoassay has the potential to capture 25% of that market in two years if such screening detection methods are officially approved for use," said Mr. Yasuo Kobayashi, Kubota’s Deputy Manager of Technology Development. "Since announcing our license agreement with Paracelsian, more than 50 companies have contacted Kubota regarding their interest in Paracelsian’s technology -- we are very pleased to be partnering with Paracelsian in the commercialization of this exciting technology," concluded Mr. Kobayashi.

"Our Letter of Intent in China was well received by Kubota," said Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Paracelsian’s Chairman and CEO. "We are anxious to resolve one last technical issue within the next three to four weeks so that we can ramp up our business with Kubota; the revenue potential through Kubota is very high and the timeline to this revenue is short," continued Campbell. "In addition, near-term success in the Japanese market would strengthen our ability to rapidly penetrate other markets in Asia and Europe -- markets that could also be serviced from a manufacturing facility in China," concluded Campbell.

Paracelsian is a unique biotechnology company with three primary areas of focus. Paracelsian develops technologies useful in the detection and monitoring of environmental contaminants such as dioxin. Second, Paracelsian develops functional bioassays, which are the basis of its BioFIT(TM) Quality Assurance program for herbs, botanicals and other dietary supplements. And third, Paracelsian’s Internet business leverages extensive relationships in China, along with expertise in nutritional science, to provide an exchange of unique health products and research services.

Shaman Pharmaceuticals: Quorum for Vote to Transfer Shares Insufficient

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Apr 25, BW HealthWire -- Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc., announced at the continuation of a special stockholder meeting that a quorum was not present to transact the business as proposed in the proxy statement dated February 15, 2000.

The primary purpose of the proxy was to seek stockholder approval to transfer all of the assets and liabilities of Shaman Pharmaceuticals to a wholly-owned subsidiary in exchange for shares of its common stock. Proxies for only approximately 47% of the total shares outstanding and entitled to vote as of the record date were received. Therefore, there were not enough votes to transact the business. However, of the votes received stockholder response was positive, approximately 96% voted in favor of transferring the assets. The Company, at its discretion, may propose a transfer of assets and liabilities to a subsidiary in the near future.

Shaman Pharmaceuticals will change the name of its main operating division from to All previously described activities and operations as described in the new business plan, as filed in the Annual Report on Form 10K for the year ended December 31, 1999, will continue to be carried out through this division. It is anticipated that the new business will provide information, education, and entertainment through community building initiatives over the channels of the Internet, cable, and television from the perspective of the knowledgeable and trusted voice of natural products. The goal of this effort is to bring natural medicine usage and information to the mass market, and to differentially expand the market for high quality products through communication of this information.

Shaman currently intends to continue to develop proprietary dietary supplements and health products. Two new products are being developed and are expected to be commercialized by the end of the second quarter 2000. The first new product line will be snack bars based on 35 years of clinical research conducted by Dr. Gerald Reaven and developed to combat Syndrome X. The first snack bars will follow the dietary guidelines of the Syndrome X Diet Plan. Future bars added to the Syndrome X bar line are anticipated to contain proprietary dietary supplement ingredients from Shaman’s library of medicinal plants. The second new product will be a proprietary dietary supplement that targets a health concern community of approximately 50 million Americans.

Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc., through its main operating division, is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of proprietary botanical dietary supplements from tropical plants for unmet healthcare needs through community building initiatives on the Internet and other focused channels.

Nature’s Sunshine: Reports First Quarter Sales Up and Income Down

PROVO, Utah, Apr 25, 2000 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Nature’s Sunshine Products, Inc., a leading manufacturer and marketer of encapsulated herbs and vitamins, today announced operating results for the quarter ended March 31, 2000.

Sales revenue for the quarter ended March 31, 2000, was $80.0 million compared to $72.2 million for the same period of the prior year, an increase of 11 percent. Net income for the first quarter totaled $4.5 million compared to $5.0 million for the same period in 1999, a decrease of 10 percent. Basic and diluted earnings per common share for the first quarter were $0.26, compared to basic and diluted earnings per common share of $0.28 for the same period of the prior year.

For the quarter ended March 31, 2000, international sales revenue increased 35 percent compared to the prior year and accounted for approximately 40 percent of the Company’s total revenue. Sales revenue reported for South Korea, which the Company entered in the third quarter of 1997, increased significantly. The Company also experienced significant increases in sales revenue in Brazil, Mexico and Japan. In addition, Nature’s Sunshine has launched operations in Russia and Israel.

For the quarter ended March 31, 2000, domestic sales revenue decreased 1 percent. Responding to new marketing initiatives and the SmartStart program, the total number of domestic distributors at March 31, 2000, was 204,000, up 20,000 from the same period of the prior year. The total number of worldwide distributors at March 31, 2000, was 548,000 compared to 526,000 for the same period of the prior year.

"We are very encouraged about the future for Nature’s Sunshine," said Daniel P. Howells, President and CEO. "International business is especially strong, virtually across the board. Domestically, our efforts to increase recruitment of new distributors and retain them appears to be paying off."

Nature’s Sunshine Products manufactures and markets through direct sales encapsulated and tabulated herbal products, high quality natural vitamins and other complementary products. In addition to the U.S., the Company has operations in South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Japan, Canada, Colombia, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Central America, Ecuador and Israel. The Company also has exclusive distribution agreements with selected companies in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Norway.

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