Richters HerbLetter

Date: 2000/05/31
1. More People Popping Nutritional and Herbal Supplements, Survey Says
2. Herbalife Founder and Chief Executive Dead at 44
3. Herbalife Shares Hit 52-week Low After Death of Founder
4. Fibrous Plants May Help Reduce Cholesterol
5. Surprise Effect of Herbs in Prostate Cancer -- Study
6. Inulin Causes Reaction
7. Ephedra Products Made by AHPA Companies Test Well in Study
8. Cashing in on Herbal Aids for Impotency
9. Multinationals Lose Exclusive Rights Over Neem Tree
10. Naturopathy without License to Become Criminal Offense in Florida
11. Office of Natural Health Products Transition Team Final Report Issued
12. Health Freedom Bill Allowing Herbalism Passes in Minnesota
13. Super Broccoli Plants Bred to Prevent Cancer
14. Ventures Aim to Put Farms in Pharmaceutical Vanguard
15. Herb-Drug Interactions Database for Consumers Launched
16. International Training Program in Aromatic and Medicinal Crops
17. Canadian Inventor of Franchising Learned from Herbalist
18. India to Set Up Medicinal Plants Board
19. India’s Kashmir Eyes Fortune in Medicinal Trees
20. Mexican Shaman Heals with Human Oven
21. Chinese Farmer Makes Fortune by Planting Trees and Medicinal Herbs
22. Chinese Government Prioritizes Biotechnology Industry and Herbs
23. Ghanaian Government Officially Recognizes Role of Traditional Healers
24. "Last Herbal Clinic" Offers Affordable Health Care for Ghanaians
25. The Day Witchdoctors Abandoned Their Old Ways
26. Herb Business News

1. More People Popping Nutritional and Herbal Supplements, Survey Says
By Krista Foss

TORONTO, May 19, Globe and Mail -- Canadians are scarfing vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements in unprecedented numbers to ward off illness, prolong their lives and maintain youthful looks and energy, according to a new poll.

The survey of 1,501 Canadians, ages 18 to 65, suggests 68 per cent of adult Canadians had taken some form of nutritional supplement -- from glucosamine for arthritic joints to antioxidant vitamins for healthier skin -- in the month before the survey, fuelling a market for the products estimated to be worth $1.8-billion a year.

"They want to continue to look healthy, feel youthful and take extra precautions against illness," said Nancy Gabor, a health-care analyst with the Angus Reid Group, which conducted the telephone survey early this year. (The results are considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)

Vitamins are by far the most popular in the group (60 per cent of Canadians take some form of them), but the use of herbal supplements has grown the most dramatically -- tripling to 28 per cent of Canadians today from 10 per cent in 1997, according to Ms. Gabor.

But Earl Berger, another pollster who tracks Canadians’ health habits, suggests the increased interest in these health products comes with two disturbing trends: Canadians are taking their doctors out of the loop and are not always buying their supplements from the most trustworthy sources.

The Berger Population Health Monitor’s poll of October, 1999, which surveyed 2,500 Canadians aged 15 to 70 and older, found only a third of Canadians who use supplements talk to their doctors about it, while a fifth discuss the products with pharmacists.

"What people don’t realize is that natural health products have active ingredients that can interact adversely with prescription medication and each other," Dr. Berger said. "The reason they don’t talk to their doctors is that they are worried the doctors will be critical, or they don’t think their doctors know enough about these products or they’re just too embarrassed to bring it up."

 Table: Consumption of Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements Percentage of adult Canadians surveyed by the Angus Reid Group who said they had taken some form of nutritional supplement in the past month: Canada BC AB MBSK ON QC Atl. Men Wom. 18-34 35-54 55+ Any 68 80 74 61 71 60 61 64 72 72 65 68 Vitamins 60 70 66 56 64 50 56 56 64 63 58 61 Herbals 28 35 30 22 32 21 26 23 33 30 28 27 Minerals 25 30 34 26 28 15 20 21 29 21 25 29 [Source: Angus Reid Group] 

2. Herbalife Founder and Chief Executive Dead at 44
By John R. Emshwiller

LOS ANGELES, May 22, Wall Street Journal -- Mark Hughes, the 44-year-old founder and chief executive officer of Herbalife International Inc., was found dead at his home Sunday, apparently of natural causes.

The unexpected death of Mr. Hughes, who was also majority shareholder of Herbalife, leaves major questions about the future of the company, which sells nutritional, weight management and personal-care products.

Reflecting such uncertainty, Herbalife Class A common stock fell $1.1875, or 12%, to $8.6875 on the Nasdaq Stock Market at 4 p.m.

Yesterday, an Herbalife spokesman said company officials were in "tremendous shock" over news of the death of Mr. Hughes, who served as chairman and president. The spokesman said that an "executive team is in place to take care of the daily affairs of the company." Herbalife hasn’t yet made any other decisions about the future makeup of management, he said. In a news release, the company said "plans are under way to ensure that Herbalife will continue with the spirit and vitality of the founder’s vision."

The spokesman couldn’t say what will happen to the company stock controlled by Mr. Hughes.

According to the company’s most recent annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Herbalife’s chief operating officer is Executive Vice President Christopher Pair. The 45-year-old Mr. Pair has been with Herbalife since 1985 and assumed the chief operating position in 1996.

Herbalife "certainly has enough management depth that it can continue to operate," said Scott Van Winkle, an analyst at the Boston-based investment banking firm of Adams Harkness & Hill.

Mr. Van Winkle noted that until recently Mr. Hughes had been trying to buy out the other shareholders of Herbalife for about $17 a share. But, he hadn’t been able to come up with financing for the deal and abandoned it last month. Mr. Van Winkle said he believed that Mr. Hughes would have remained interested in renewing such a buyout effort in the future, if he had lived.

Mr. Hughes founded Herbalife in 1980. Early in its history, the company tangled with regulators, who questioned some of Herbalife’s product claims. Those disputes were eventually settled. For 1999, Herbalife reported earnings of $56.9 million, or $1.86 a diluted share, on sales of $1.79 billion.

Mr. Hughes was found dead at his $25 million Malibu estate on Sunday morning. An Herbalife release said he died in his sleep.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that while his office’s homicide detectives are investigating the death, it appears to have been due to natural causes. He said an autopsy will be done to determine the cause of death.

3. Herbalife Shares Hit 52-week Low After Death of Founder
By Riva Richmond

NEW YORK, May 22, Dow Jones -- Herbalife International Inc.’s shares traded lower Monday as investors worried the death of president and founder Mark Hughes would leave the weight-loss and nutritional products maker without its guiding light.

Hughes, who was just 44, was found dead in his Malibu, Calif., mansion of apparently natural causes. An autopsy will be performed to confirm the cause of death.

The company sought to assure its employees, distributors and shareholders with a prepared statement that "plans are under way to ensure that Herbalife will continue with the spirit and vitality of the founder’s vision."

Neither the company nor equity analysts following the company could be immediately reached for comment.

Herbalife’s Class A shares reached a 52-week low of 8 Monday, below their previous floor of 8 3/4 set May 19. The shares fell 1 3/16, or 12%, to 8 11/16 on volume of 169,900, compared with average daily volume of 25,900. The Class B, non-voting shares fell 1 1/16, or 11.7%, to 8 after reaching a 52-week low intraday of 6 1/2. The previous low of 8 1/4 was set April 18.

Hughes founded the Los Angeles company in 1980 and by 1999 had turned it into a nearly $2 billion international enterprise. Herbalife products are sold direct to consumers in 48 countries by more than a million full- and part-time independent distribut ors.

According to Herbalife’s 1999 year-end filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Hughes owned 57% of the company’s Class A shares and 61% of its Class B shares.

Hughes attempted to buy the remaining shares in the company for $17.81 each earlier this year, but an agreement to do so was terminated by the board on March 13.

On March 10, Hughes said difficult conditions in the credit markets - particularly the junk-bond market - made it impractical to obtain financing. Herbalife’s board had the right to terminate the buyout agreement if Hughes’ tender offer wasn’t complete d by March 31.

Hughes had reportedly been frustrated by the company’s poor stock performance, which had suffered from earnings declines, costly expansions into new markets, concerns over regulatory controls and antipathy toward small caps.

4. Fibrous Plants May Help Reduce Cholesterol
TORONTO, May 23, Globe and Mail -- Ask people about their major health concerns, and chances are cholesterol will be high on most lists. There’s a good reason -- this white, wavy fat can clog arteries and blood vessels, placing you at higher risk of heart disease.

Studies show that regular exercise, weight loss and a heart-healthy diet - low in cholesterol and saturated fat, and rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains -- will lower blood cholesterol and reduce risk of heart attack, If this approach doesn’t achieve the desired goal, your doctor may recommend a cholesterol-lowering drug.

But there may be other options, according to David Jenkins, director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, and a professor of nutritional sciences in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine.

"There’s growing evidence that certain plant components can lower cholesterol, and may bridge the gap between what a healthy diet can do and what drug therapy can achieve," Dr. Jenkins says.

Plant components which are of particular interest among researchers include plant sterols and stanols, soy protein, and psyllium and other soluble fibres. Although each one has a small effect on cholesterol, Dr. Jenkins says, "their cumulative action may be very worthwhile if they’re each able to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by 5 to 10 percent,"

Studies show that these natural plant components reduce the amount of cholesterol that’s absorbed in the digestive tract. As a result, blood cholesterol levels drop.

Recently, two margarine-type spreads containing these cholesterol inhibitors have been developed: Benecol contains sitostanol, a natural derivative of wood-pulp extract, and Take Control contains sistosterol, a natural derivative of soybean extract.

"These margarines are available in Australia, many European countries and the United States. We hope they will soon be available in Canada also," Dr. Jenkins says.

Last year, Mayo Clinic researchers reported that people eating margarines fortified with plant stanol esters were able to reduce their LDL cholesterol levels by up to 10 per cent over a period of eight weeks. At the same time, HDL (good) cholesterol was unaffected.

This follows a key study published in 1995, in which Finnish researchers found that adding about two teaspoons of a stanol-ester-fortified margarine to the daily diet of 100 people lowered their LDL cholesterol by approximately 10 per cent.

"In general, plant sterols have proved safe and effective," Dr. Jenkins says.

Benecol and Take Control are intended to replace regular margarines or butter, not to be added to your diet on top of these foods. The recommended serving of Benecol is 1 1/2 teaspoons three times a day, while Take Control’s daily recommended amount is one to two tablespoons. While some people may eat more in an effort to lower cholesterol even further, studies show this doesn’t happen. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of heart-health claims on soy foods, based on research showing that foods containing soy protein reduce the risk of coronary disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels.

According to a 1995 analysis by Kentucky researchers, people who ate soy protein (an average of 47 grams daily) instead of animal protein were able to lower their LDL cholesterol by nearly 13 per cent, and trilycerides by more than 10 per cent. The effect was strongest in people whose cholesterol was higher to start with.

The FDA suggests that you need to eat at least 25 grams of soy protein in foods such as soy beverages, tofu, tempeh and soy-based meat alternatives -- every day to benefit from its cholesterol-lowering powers. Two to three servings should do the job: for example, 8 ounces (226 grams) of soy milk contains 4 to 10 grams of soy protein; 4 ounces (113 grams) of tofu contains 8 to 13 grams; and 1 ounce (28 grams) of soy flour contains 10 to 13 grams of soy protein.

It’s important to note that soy protein must be substituted for animal protein in order to be effective at lowering cholesterol, Dr. Jenkins says.

Psyllium is one of the richest dietary sources of soluble fibre. In North America, consumers can find psyllium in certain breakfast cereals and in Metamucil, an over-the-counter bulk-forming laxative.

A 1997 study by Dr. Jenkins and colleagues found that eating a psyllium enriched cereal as part of a low-fat diet improved cholesterol levels beyond what could be achieved with a low-fat diet alone. In this study, people who ate cereal containing 3 to 12 grams of psyllium daily for one to two months had LDL cholesterol levels 9 per cent lower than in people who ate a non-psyllium cereal.

Psyllium taken in laxative form also lowers cholesterol, research shows.A recent study looked at 656 people who were on a low-fat diet and who consumed 10 grams of Metamucil daily for at least eight weeks. They experienced, on average, a 7-per cent drop in LDL cholesterol and a 4-per cent drop in total cholesterol. Levels of HDL, the good cholesterol, were unaffected.

Psyllium is thought to work by trapping bile acids and causing them to be excreted. The liver must then manufacture new bile acids. When the liver draws cholesterol from the blood to help produce these acids, blood cholesterol levels drop.

The daily dose of psyllium recommended for lowering cholesterol is about 10 grams.

[Reprinted from Health News, the medical letter of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine.]

5. Surprise Effect of Herbs in Prostate Cancer -- Study
By Maggie Fox

NEW ORLEANS, May 21, Reuters -- When patients started coming to Dr. William Oh with tales of an "ancient Chinese remedy" that helped their prostate cancer, he was sceptical.

After all, he had seen patients who took aged garlic, shark cartilage, selenium and other unproven supplements on their own, as well as more accepted home remedies such as vitamin E.

"Ninety-nine percent of this stuff is not going to work," Oh said in an interview.

But when their lab tests showed their prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels were falling -- a sign that their cancer was being controlled somewhat -- he sat up and listened.

Oh, a researcher at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, was already doing clinical trials of vaccines and drug therapies for prostate cancer. So he enrolled some of the men taking the supplement, sold under the name PC-SPES, in a trial funded by the nonprofit organisation CapCure.

He presented his findings over the weekend to a meeting in New Orleans of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, a meeting of 22,000 cancer specialists from around the world.

The capsule they were taking is called PC-SPES (PC for prostate cancer, and SPES from the Latin word for hope). Patented by BotanicLab, a privately held company in Brea, California, it is based on a Chinese formula.

It contains saw palmetto, sold over-the-counter to relieve some of the prostate symptoms suffered by men as they age such as the need to urinate more frequently, as well as licorice, which the company says helps breathing and digestion.

- Herbs Used in Chinese Medicine -

It also contains 6 herbs used in Chinese medicine -- reishi, the stem of a plant said to "support" the immune system; Baikal skullcap, the root of a plant meant to remove toxins; rabdosia, the leaf of a plant that, according to the company, "promotes healthy cell function;" Dyers woad, another leaf; mum, a flower; and Panax ginseng, a root.

Oh treated 23 patients whose prostate cancer had not responded to standard hormone therapy, which involves chemical or surgical castration to stop the supply of male hormones that fuel many cases of prostate cancer.

Half of them saw a 50 percent drop in their PSA levels after several weeks of taking 6 PC-SPES capsules a day. This was no small improvement.

"This group of patients has few treatment choices," Oh said. "Average survival is a year, a year and a half at most."

Two of the patients have since died of their prostate cancer, and Oh stresses that he did not do research to see if patients’ overall survival was improved.

Dr. Eric Small of the University of California San Francisco had a similar experience. "Patients were coming to us, singing its praises, saying ‘Doc, you have got to see this’," Small said in an interview.

He wanted the herbal remedy held to the same standards as mainstream drugs, so he tested 70 patients, 33 who had responded to standard hormone therapy, and 37 who had not. Their ages ranged from 43 to 89 years.

All of the patients with cancer that had responded to hormone therapy had a decline of at least 50 percent in their PSA levels. Just over half, 54 percent of the non-responsive group also saw a similar decline.

"After 57 weeks, everyone who got PC-SPES is still responding," Small said. "Both Dr. Oh and I are pretty convinced that it has efficacy in hormone-resistant patients."

They said it is not clear how the compound might be working, or which elements of it might be working.

- Possible Unique Estrogen -

"It’s possible that it is a unique oestrogen that we don’t know about yet," Oh said. Estrogens, the so-called female hormones, are found in many plants and can counteract the effects of male hormones in disease.

"It could be a dose effect -- it is possible (PC-SPES) is giving more of something that was going to work anyway. It could be there is a new agent in there that hasn’t been identified yet," Oh added.

Much more study will be needed because so many different compounds are in the blend. And experts rely most strongly on studies in which patients get treated randomly and in which neither the doctor not the patient knows who is getting the experimental therapy and who is getting standard therapy.

Meanwhile, the capsules are being sold with little mention of the side-effects, which range from nipple tenderness to blood clots, which Small saw in four percent of his patients.

PC-SPES is governed by the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, which is more lenient than rules governing prescription drugs because of arguments that herbs have been shown by centuries of use to be safe.

That any controlled trials were done at all shows the shift in attitude by doctors, who, for the most part, scoffed at alternative medicines until recently.

"It was the patients that prompted this," Oh said. "You learn from your patients. They can teach you a lot of things."

Even if the supplements themselves turn out not to be that useful, Oh said they could offer valuable insights into treating cancer -- perhaps into new estrogens that could be developed to help patients.

6. Inulin Causes Reaction
TORONTO, May 10, Globe and Mail -- A popular food additive extracted from artichokes and the herbs chicory and salsify may cause a severe allergic responses, warns the New England Journal of Medicine. The warning is based on the case of a 39-year-old man who developed breathing difficulties, a cough and other allergic symptoms on four occasions within two years. His symptoms appeared just minutes after eating inulin, which is found in artichoke leaves, salsify (also known as black-oyster plant or viper’s grass), inulin-containing candy and a margarine made with the inulin found in chicory. Inulin is used as a sugar and fat substitute that extends the self life of processed foods.

7. Ephedra Products Made by AHPA Companies Test Well in Study
WASHINGTON, May 19, PRNewswire -- A recent analysis of ephedra-containing supplements revealed that American Herbal Products Association member companies manufacture products that perform well above the norm in quality testing.

The study was conducted by Dr. Bill Gurley of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and is due to be published in the May, 2000 issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. Dr. Gurley analyzed 20 different products, 9 of which are marketed by AHPA member companies. A total of 30 lots were tested including 12 from the 9 AHPA companies.

The study’s author was critical of manufacturers, based on his report that the products contained anywhere from zero to 154% of the amount of ephedrine alkaloids stated on labels. A review of the result of AHPA member’s products, however, tells an entirely different story.

Three of the 12 tested products manufactured by AHPA members did not state an alkaloid quantity on the label(1). The other nine of these were found to contain between 84 and 109% of the claimed ephedrine alkaloids(2,3). The mean ephedrine content of these samples was 98% of label claim. Federal labeling guidelines require that naturally occurring ingredients that are quantified on a label be present in an amount "at least equal to 80 percent of the value ... declared on the label," and also permit reasonable excesses. All of the AHPA manufactured products were found to be well within this legal range.

"Although Gurley’s report is technically sound, we have identified some concerns with the conclusions that he has drawn," commented Dr. Joseph Betz, AHPA’s Vice-President of Scientific & Technical Affairs. "Nevertheless, we are pleased to see that his analysis clearly shows that AHPA members, as responsible companies in the herb industry, are manufacturing their products in a manner that assures consumers that these products are accurately labeled."

A close reading of the entire study reveals that certain of the characterizations in Gurley’s publication are, at best, confusing and in need of clarification.

* Gurley noted that five products contained (+)-norpseudoephedrine (NPSE), a naturally occurring ephedrine group alkaloid found in most of the Asian species of ephedra. His presentation of this information implied that some flaw in the regulation of supplements exempts ephedra products from the restrictions associated with drug scheduling. It is true that NPSE, in its purified form and under conditions specified in the regulations of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), may be a Schedule IV controlled substance, subject to certain restrictions on use, sale and possession. However, DEA, while aware that ephedra may contain very small amounts of NPSE, has explicitly stated that ephedra products are not subject to scheduling, or even less restrictive "listing" requirements under the Controlled Substances Act. In summary, neither botanical ephedra nor crude extracts of ephedra have been the subject of any scheduling restrictions, and are therefore perfectly legal for use and sale.

* One of the most sensational of Gurley’s conclusions was his emphasis on what he described as "the dramatic variance in alkaloid content" between different lots of the same product. Ten products were tested for lot-to- lot variability. The article stated that six of these "showed virtually no difference in alkaloid content between lots." An examination of the other four cases, however, shows that the noted variations are based on comparisons in specific alkaloids, even though these were not identified on any of the products’ labels. A review of the test data compared to the actual statements made on labels shows that only one product had a variation of more than 10% from one lot to the next.

The American Herbal Products Association was founded in 1983 by a group of companies active in the trade in botanicals. AHPA is now the national trade association and voice of the herbal products industry, comprised of domestic and foreign companies doing business as importers, growers, processors, manufacturers, marketers, and distributors of herbs and herbal products. AHPA serves its members by promoting the responsible commerce of products that contain herbs and that are used to enhance health and quality of life.

(1) AHPA revised its trade recommendation for ephedra products in January, 2000 to require that alkaloids be quantified on product labels. There was no industry or regulatory requirement for such information prior to this. Gurley reports that all of his products were purchased in 1998 and 1999.

(2) Gurley informed AHPA staff that he believes his margin of error to be +/-5%. While this may be overly optimistic, an adjustment for this error would further limit the tested range of these nine samples to 88 -- 104% of label claim.

(3) One product contained 10.4 mg of total ephedra alkaloids of which 2.5 mg was specifically ephedrine. The label stated that it contained 10.0 mg ephedrine, and so was reported by Gurley to deliver only 25% of claim. There is, however, standard accepted terminology for results of analytical methods that do not separate the individual alkaloids but rather measure the total of all of the contained compounds. Such results are acceptably recorded as "Total alkaloids stated as ephedrine." For purposes of this review, it was assumed that this nomenclatural disagreement was not relevant, and that sample is here reported as 104% of label claim.

8. Cashing in on Herbal Aids for Impotency
IRVINE, Calif., May 18, PRNewswire -- Studies on impotency have helped to change the thinking about the most common causes of sexual dysfunction. As recent as the last decade many physicians thought most erection failures were psychological in origin. Most experts now believe that 80-90% of impotency is related to organic or physical causes.

Nutritional approaches to improve sexual function have been routinely ignored by the traditional medical community. One reason is the common misconception that diminished sexual function is a natural consequence of aging. Many physicians have inadequate training in sexual behavior and also have a bias against natural alternatives that might prove beneficial.

Because of the widely publicized side effects of Viagra, many companies are cashing in selling male sex-pill alternatives of various ingredients and dosages.

Bill Byhower spent two years diligently interviewing homeopathic practitioners and respected herbologists in both Europe and Asia. Bill also interviewed many different adult film stars for their ‘secret recipes’ and what seemed to work best for them. This provided a wealth of knowledge, since these people are paid to perform.

"The Insider’s Guide To Male Potency Formulas & Performance Herbs" consolidates this information in a low-cost, easy-to-read publication allowing the consumer to increase his passion and desire quickly and effectively while restoring his own self-confidence dramatically.

For more information about "The Insider’s Guide to Male Potency Formulas & Performance Herbs" is available at

9. Multinationals Lose Exclusive Rights Over Neem Tree
By Frederick Nzwili

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22, All Africa News Agency -- After six years of persistent campaign and legal challenges instituted by both India and African researchers, the Neem tree campaign, started by the Research Foundation For Science, Technology and Ecology RFSTE, India has finally won a major victory.

Many people in the Third World now see this as their victory over patent bio-piracy, which is common for many medicinal plants.

Speaking here during the opening of the Conference of Parties COP V to the Convention on Biological Diversity CBD, Dr Vandana Shiva, the head of RFSTE, said that the Neem tree, hitherto owned and controlled by multinationals, now stood free for use by everyone.

The legal opposition to the patent had been lodged five years ago by the Research Foundation directed by Shiva in co-operation with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement IFOAM and Magda Alvoet, former Green member of the European Parliament and current Environmental Minister of Belgium.

At the conclusion of a two-day oral proceedings, the opposition division of the European Patent office EPO completely revoked a controversial patent on May 10, which had been granted to the United States Department of Agriculture USDA and the multinational corporation, W.R Grace, for a fungicide derived form seeds of the Neem tree.

According to Prof Wangari Maathai of the Green Belt Movement such patent rights given to multinationals had been done with close collaboration with the Third World governments and research organisations, denying local communities the right to use essential resources.

"Governments must check against giving rights of essential plants especially in agriculture and medicine, to multinationals denying local communities food and cure they have used for year," said Maathai.

The giving of total rights to the multinational meant that Third World countries despite having used the medicinal plant to cure several ailments had no legal rights to use the plant for medical research or curative purposes.

The Research Foundation and its partners in the Neem Patent challenges felt confident in the case, since the Neem patents were "a clear case of piracy of indigenous people".

"We were certain from the beginning that the USDA/Grace patent did not satisfy the basic requirement for patents. How could the US or W.R Grace say they invented something which has been in public use for centuries and on modern scientific research has been carried out in the country for decades," said Shiva.

She added: "We hope that our victory will mark a turning point in the struggle against bio-piracy". This was a show of indicating the continued sharing of the world bio-diversity and knowledge that resists the privatisation of life forms.

"This is a great day not only for us but for all people throughout the world, especially from the Third World, who have been fighting to take back control of their resources and knowledge systems form the patent regimes of the north," said IFOAM president, Linda Bullard.

The revocation of the Neem patent has implications for other cases of bio- piracy, for the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights TRIPs and farmers rights by upholding indigenous innovations by the communities against false claims of innovation and novelty by corporations.

10. Naturopathy without License to Become Criminal Offense in Florida
WASHINGTON, May 8 -- In the waning hours of the Florida legislative session, the legislature passed a bill designed to raise the penalties for the unlicensed practice of naturopathy to a third degree felony. Both the House and the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favour of bill HB 591 on May 5. The bill awaits signing by Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Prior to the passage of the bill, the unlicensed practice of naturopathy was an unscheduled offense that carried civil penalties. If signed by the Governor, the unlicensed practice of naturopathy will carry criminal penalties equal to serious offenses such as assault causing serious bodily injury, aggravated stalking, or impregnation of a child under 16 years of age by a person 21 years of age or older.

The Washington-based Coalition for Natural Health has denounced the bill, saying that "the state will have expanded police powers to prosecute individuals for ... anything that the state deems is the unlicensed practice of naturopathy." The CNH claims that holistic practitioners may get caught in crackdowns authorized by this law.

The CNH has launched a pressure campaign to get Governor Bush to veto the bill. If signed, the bill will come into effect on July 1.

[Source: Legislative Alert from the Coalition for Natural Health, Florida State Legislature.]

11. Office of Natural Health Products Transition Team Final Report Issued
MARKHAM, Ont., May 24 -- Canadian Health Minister Allan Rock today released the final report of the Transition Team tasked with setting up the new Office of Natural Health Products (OHNP) and regulatory framework. "Final Report: A Fresh Start" is the result of almost a year’s work by the 17 member Transition Team appointed by Minister Rock in 1999. Fourteen members were from the private sector. The full report is available on Health Canada’s website at .

ONHP Executive Director Phil Waddington appointed a Transition Advisory Team (TAT) made up from members of the original Transition Team representing the health frood industry, the non-prescription drug manufacturers, pharmacists, and consumers.

A separate ONHP expert advisory committee was announced by Minister Rock comprised of former members of the Transition Team. Rock also announced that a proposed regulatory framework for the ONHP will be tabled this summer. As well, he announced that the ONHP will negotiate a partnership with the newly-formed Canadian Institutes of Health Research to stimulate research related to natural health products.

[Source: Canadian Health Food Association press release.]

12. Health Freedom Bill Allowing Herbalism Passes in Minnesota
May 11 -- Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura signed a new law that allows alternative health care practitioners, including herbalists, to operate without sanction from the state. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2001.

Under the new law, herbalists and other practitioners must comply with Minnesota Department of Health oversight. Among the new rules is one that requires practitioners will have to use informed consent and disclosure forms.

Alternative practitioners have been fighting for a freedom of access law that would ensure that ensure access to alternative health care modalities to the consumer and would give practitioners freedom to practice without harrassment. The bill has overwhelmingly passed by both the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The radical new law allows most alternative practitioners, including herbalists, to practice legally for the first time. It sets up an office in the state Health Department to deal with complaints. It also establishes some liabilities for practitioners, and sets out standards for safety for minors, and responsibilities of consumers. Practitioner must post his or her education and experience, and this must be documented with the Department of Health office. A key rule is that alternative practitioners cannot give a medical diagnosis.

The bill was consumer and practitioner driven. Politicians were baraged with thousands of phone calls.

Proponents of the law praised it saying it "is not a compromise, nor the same old stuff (licensing) of the past, but a well worked out radical new path." Because Minnesota is regarded as a bellweather state in health matters, it is expected that the passage of the "freedom of access" law will make it easier to pass similar bills in other states.

13. Super Broccoli Plants Bred to Prevent Cancer
By Patricia Reaney

LONDON, May 24, Reuters -- Super-broccoli loaded with natural compounds to help prevent cancer could be on dinner tables within a few years, British researchers said Wednesday.

Plant biologists at the John Innes Center, a government-funded plant research center, produced the super-broccoli by cross breeding the normal plant with a wild Sicilian species in the same family.

The new plant, which is not genetically modified, contains up to 100 times more sulphoraphane, a compound that helps to lower the risk of cancer, than normal broccoli.

"It’s much more potent than normal broccoli," Richard Mithen, the head of the research team that produced the plant, told Reuters.

"Our best lines have 100 times more sulphoraphane than a normal broccoli," he added.

The activity of the compounds is well known and has for years been the focus of research, particularly in the United States. But Mithen said the super-broccoli is one of the first plants on which scientists have intensified their effects.

"No gene has been inserted through genetic modification. This is classical breeding. But we speeded that breeding program up by using DNA fingerprinting technology."

Normally the breeding program would have taken about 10-15 years but thanks to DNA technology Mithen has done it in four. The institute owns the patent on the breeding method.

The super-broccoli looks and tastes like normal broccoli but it is packed with sulphoraphane that induces natural protective enzymes to rid the body of carcinogens before they can do harm.

"It switches on the defenses of our body. We have these natural defenses but in some people they work better than in others. If we eat broccoli it switches them on and makes them more effective," Mithen added.

Breeding work on the super-broccoli is nearly finished and the researchers hope to begin testing it on humans next year. It could be available within a few of years.

Mithen said plant biologists had come full circle with the breeding of super-broccoli because in medieval times broccoli and cabbage were grown as medicinal plants.

14. Ventures Aim to Put Farms in Pharmaceutical Vanguard
By Andrew Pollock

May 14, New York Times -- Joe Williams, a Virginia tobacco farmer, has been forced to cut his production nearly in half over the last three years as people have kicked the smoking habit. But he is hoping that a small experimental plot he just planted will hold the key to his staying on the farm. That tobacco has been genetically engineered to produce not cigarettes but pharmaceuticals.

Plants containing drugs could, indeed, represent a new high-priced crop. "If we can actually find a medical use for tobacco that saves lives, what a turnaround for the much-maligned tobacco plant," said Christopher Cook, chief executive of ToBio, a company recently formed by Virginia tobacco farmers like Mr. Williams to grow drugs in cooperation with the CropTech Corporation of Blacksburg, Va.

The production of drugs in genetically altered plants -- called molecular farming or biopharming -- seems poised to represent the next wave in agricultural biotechnology. Until now, efforts have mainly been directed at protecting crops from pests and improving the taste and nutrition of food.

But just as the production of bioengineered foods has been controversial, molecular farming is already raising some safety and environmental concerns. Chief among them is that drugs might end up in the general food supply, either because crops or seeds are misrouted during processing or because pollen from a drug-containing crop in an open field fertilizes a nearby food crop. What if insects eat the drug-containing plants or if the drug leaks into the soil from the roots?

About 20 companies worldwide are working on producing pharmaceuticals in plants, according to the Bowditch Group, a Boston consulting firm. A handful of such drugs are already being tested in human clinical trials, including vaccines for hepatitis B and an antibody to prevent tooth decay.

And there have been dozens of field tests like the one on Mr. Williams’s farm, aimed at seeing if products ranging from hemoglobin to urokinase, a clot-dissolving drug, can be grown in crops like corn, tobacco or rice. In a closely related effort, companies are also trying to use plants to produce industrial chemicals.

Proponents say that farming for pharmaceutical proteins would be far cheaper than the current practice of producing these drugs in genetically modified mammalian cells grown in vats. That could lower the price of drugs produced by biotechnology, some of which now cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year per patient.

In some cases, the drugs would not even have to be extracted from the plant. Scientists are testing edible vaccines in which people would be protected from diseases by eating genetically engineered foods.

As these crops get closer to market, regulators are trying to figure out how to ensure their safety. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration and the Agriculture Department held a public meeting in Ames, Iowa, to discuss the issue.

The regulators say some safeguards are already in place. To minimize environmental risks, all field tests of drug-producing plants must receive government permits, while some field tests of other modified crops require only that the government be notified, said Michael Schechtman, biotechnology coordinator for the Agriculture Department. In addition, the distance by which the drug-bearing plants must be isolated from other plants to prevent cross-pollination is double the usual distance used by seed companies to assure purity of their seeds, he said. And although genetically modified food crops are often deregulated after the product becomes commercial, he added, the planting of drug-containing crops is likely to be regulated forever.

But Norman C. Ellstrand, a professor of genetics at the University of California at Riverside and an expert on pollen flow, said that long-distance pollen flow is poorly understood and that the appropriate isolation distance for drug-producing plants would depend on the particular crop and drug. "It’s just not clear that setting a double distance is going to solve everything," he said.

Indeed, biopharming lies on the border of medical biotechnology, which has been largely free of controversy, and food biotechnology, which has been beset by protests.

Some executives in the fledgling industry say that because medicines clearly help people, their activity is not generating the same kind of resistance as the production of genetically modified food crops. In addition, they say, drugs are tested and regulated far more stringently than biofoods. "It’s being received entirely differently," said William S. White, president of Integrated Protein Technologies, a unit of the Monsanto Company that is trying to grow drugs in corn.

But critics of agricultural biotechnology say that such companies, which underestimated the public reaction to bioengineered foods, are repeating the mistake. Michael Hansen of Consumers Union, for one, said the public had no idea about the work being done to produce drugs in plants. "Once they have an idea, the thought of putting drugs in plants is not going to go over well," he said.

Some companies producing drugs in plants are already being hit. Axis Genetics of Britain went out of business a few months ago, saying the protests over bioengineered food had scared off investors. Groupe Limagrain, a French seed company, says it has been conducting its field tests in the United States because the dispute over modified crops is greater in Europe. And Planet Biotechnology Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., keeps the location of its greenhouses secret to prevent possible vandalism by protesters, as has happened to companies growing modified food products.

Companies are considering various techniques to keep drug-producing crops from accidentally entering the food supply, including the implanting of a gene to turn drug-producing crops a different color from other crops.

Techniques are also being developed to prevent cross-pollination. CropTech, for instance, said its tobacco would be harvested before sexual maturity. Some drugs needed in small quantities might be grown only in greenhouses, rather than open fields.

Just as with food, biocrops should be able to produce large quantities of drugs at low cost, advocates say. The newest factories now used to produce pharmaceutical proteins in genetically modified mammalian cells can cost $100 million or more and can produce a few hundred kilograms a year at most. Drugs made in such factories can cost thousands of dollars per gram to produce.

For many biotechnology drugs already on the market, this is not a problem because prices are high and only minuscule amounts are needed.

But some drugs under development, like an antibody-containing cream for herpes, are likely to require much larger quantities and not to be able to command high prices.

"They cannot make these drugs using the old technologies," said Mr. White of Monsanto’s Integrated Protein Technologies. "It’s just not going to be cost effective to do so." Mr. White said his company could produce 300 kilograms of a purified drug for a $10 million capital investment and a cost of $200 a gram.

Planet Biotechnology is in clinical trials of an antibody, produced in genetically altered tobacco, that blocks the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Elliott L. Fineman, the chief executive, said it would be impossible to use mammalian cells to produce the 600 kilograms a year that might be needed in a cost-effective way.

But the entire supply could be affordably produced on a single large tobacco farm.

Still, the companies wanting to grow drugs have found the going somewhat rough. The Large Scale Biology Corporation, formerly Biosource Technologies, did the first field test of a drug produced by a plant in 1991 but still does not have a drug in clinical trials.

Drug companies are hesitant to depart from existing technology. And some industry experts are not convinced that plants would be cheaper when the cost of extracting the drug from the plant is considered. "With respect to purifying it and isolating it, a plant can pose challenges," said Norbert G. Riedel, president of the Baxter Healthcare Corporation’s recombinant DNA business.

Moreover, the production of drugs in plants faces competition from production in the milk of genetically modified animals. This also offers potentially high volumes at low costs, and the animal milk companies are closer to bringing products to market. Some already have deals signed with major drug companies.

The plant-drug companies say their technique is safer because mammalian cells and animal milk can introduce harmful viruses into the drug, while plant viruses are not known to infect people.

There could be other problems, however, including contamination by pesticides and plant chemicals like nicotine. The F.D.A., which is preparing draft guidelines for production of such drugs, is considering such issues as assuring that the pharmaceutical protein does not change form during plant growth, harvesting and storage.

Yet another issue is that the sugars attached to proteins by plants are different from those attached by animals. This could prevent the plant-derived drug from working and could cause allergies, said Dr. Gary A. Bannon, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Arkansas medical school.

Molecular farming might not prove to be the salvation of vast numbers of farmers since the acreage needed will probably be small. Mr. White of Monsanto said even a drug needed in large quantities could be produced on a few thousand acres of corn, a mere blip compared with the roughly 77 million acres of corn grown in the United States.

But Brandon J. Price, chief executive officer of CropTech, which is working with the Virginia farmers, said 45,000 acres would be needed to satisfy the entire worldwide demand for human serum albumin, a blood product that his company wants to produce in tobacco.

Said Mr. Williams, the Virginia farmer, "We’re looking at thousands and thousands of acres if it takes off and goes."

Raw potatoes might not be most people’s idea of a delicious meal, especially if the potatoes have been genetically modified to contain a protein from the Norwalk virus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. But when 20 volunteers in Baltimore ate such potatoes, the viral protein not only did no harm; it stimulated an immune response in 19 of them that might prevent them from becoming sick if they ever encounter the real virus.

The test, conducted last year, was one of the first clinical trials of a so-called edible vaccine. Some day, some scientists say, people might be protected from disease by eating special bananas, tomato paste or crackers.

"Would you rather eat a candy bar or would you rather get a needle?" said John A. Howard, chief executive of ProdiGene, a company in College Station, Tex., that is working on edible vaccines in corn.

Edible vaccines could be especially important for developing countries, which often lack resources to distribute and preserve injectable vaccines.

The Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., developed the anti-Norwalk-virus potato and has done early clinical trials on potatoes containing vaccines for hepatitis B and for the diarrhea-causing illness known as travelers disease. Scientists in Poland working with Dr. Hilary Koprowski of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have tested a hepatitis B vaccine contained in lettuce.

Numerous obstacles must still be overcome, so it is likely to be several years before such vaccines reach the market.

One challenge will be to shift to foods that are more commonly eaten raw, since cooking could destroy the vaccine.

In addition, the desired protein is often produced in the food at extremely low levels, and proteins are destroyed by acids in the stomach. Such factors could make it hard, particularly for infants, to eat enough to get a proper dose. Assuring a consistent dose is another problem.

For these reasons, some scientists say that using a raw fruit or vegetable as a vaccine is impractical. Some processing will be necessary to concentrate the vaccine and assure a consistent dose, said Dr. Hugh S. Mason, who has been developing the vaccines at Boyce Thompson.

Its next trials will use tomatoes ground into powder and then turned into a paste or juice by adding water. This concentrated tomato juice would have to be pasteurized and maybe refrigerated to keep out other harmful organisms. That could limit the practicality of the vaccine in the developing world.

Dr. Shengwu Ma of the London Health Sciences Center in London, Ontario, hopes to use edible vaccines to treat autoimmune diseases, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. He wants to induce what is known as oral tolerance, the tendency of the body generally not to mount an immune attack on foods.

Dr. Ma has developed genetically modified potatoes containing a protein known as GAD, which is found in the pancreas cells that are attacked by the immune system of people with juvenile diabetes. The idea is that if the immune system thinks GAD is food, it might reduce its attacks on the GAD-containing pancreas cells. Tests on mice have been promising.

15. Herb-Drug Interactions Database for Consumers Launched
DENVER, May 23, PRNewswire -- An estimated 15 million Americans take prescription medicines and herbal remedies at the same time, according to a 1997 national survey. As a result, more interactions are reported between herbals or dietary supplements and prescription or nonprescription medicines. To meet the growing need for information, Micromedex introduces AltMed-REAX(TM) for the Patient, an herbal database written for consumers.

AltMed-REAX provides warnings about potential herb-drug interactions, herb-dietary supplement interactions, herb-alcohol interactions and herb-tobacco interactions. The content is referenced and written in easy-to-understand language. The system provides the following for each type of interaction:

-- Symptoms indicating that a harmful interaction has occurred -- The effects of the interactions -- Supporting proof for the interaction -- Instructions on actions that should be taken

"Micromedex is committed to developing quality information for AltMed-REAX for the Patient," states Barbara Fuhrman, product manager for the complementary and alternative medicine series at MICROMEDEX. "Our editorial board consists of leaders in the field of herbal and supplement interactions. Additionally, information about herbal interactions is rapidly developing, so we are committed to updating the database on a quarterly basis."

AltMed-REAX for the patient will be available on the Micromedex HealthCare Series for Windows and Intranets. Content is also available for licensing to Internet portals.

16. International Training Program in Aromatic and Medicinal Crops
BOULDER, Colo., May 23, M2 Communications -- Next month, the Herb Research Foundation (HRF) of Boulder, CO will co-sponsor the Purdue University Horticulture Department’s popular two-week intensive seminar, An International Training Program in New Crops: Aromatic and Medicinal Plants. The program is scheduled to take place June 19-30, 2000 in West Lafayette, Indiana, utilizing the state-of-the-art facilities at the Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products.

An International Training Program in New Crops: Aromatic and Medicinal Plants is designed to give natural products industry members a broad-based, intensive overview of new crop production, processing, and marketing. The program offers a fast-paced, information-packed two weeks of classroom instruction, field trips, hands-on lab sessions, demonstrations, and intensive discussion on a vast range of topics. The curriculum is focused on germplasm collection and preservation; crop production technologies; natural product extraction, processing, standardization, and quality control systems; and new product development, regulation, and marketing.

Participants come from all over the world. Those who complete the program receive four units of continuing education credit from Purdue University.

The program was founded in 1993 to serve the growing number of producers, researchers, and marketers requesting training in the rapidly evolving botanicals industry. To ensure that the program provides in-depth coverage of a diverse range of topics, Purdue developed co-sponsorships with both HRF and the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Pharmacy. This year, program instructors include HRF president Robert S. McCaleb; James Simon, PhD, Varro Tyler, PhD, and many other members of the Purdue University faculty; author and industry consultant Steven Foster; Norman Farnsworth, PhD and other faculty from the University of Illinois-Chicago; Mark Blumenthal of the American Botanical Council; and many other experts.

The Herb Research Foundation (HRF) is a Boulder, CO-based nonprofit organization that has been educating the world about herbs for more than 15 years. HRF is a partner in the A-SNAPP alliance, a pan-African venture created to help develop and implement successful African natural products agribusinesses through socially conscious and environmentally sustainable means.

17. Canadian Inventor of Franchising Learned from Herbalist
By Ben Dobbin

ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 28, AP -- Who invented franchising, an industry set to surpass $1 trillion in U.S. sales this year? Ray Kroc of McDonald’s Corp. in 1955? Standard-menu pioneer Howard Dearing Johnson in 1926? Rexall Drug pharmacist Louis Liggett in 1902?

Wrong century, wrong sex.

In the late 1800s, Martha Matilda Harper, a 5-foot-tall domestic with floor-length hair, created what a new biography calls America’s first retail franchise: a beauty-salon chain that, at its peak in 1928, boasted 500 "branches" worldwide.

Harper Hair Dressing Salons prided themselves on trademark tonics and creams, and high-quality, standardized service. President Woodrow Wilson showed up for relaxing scalp massages at Harper’s in Paris while negotiating the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

How could such an innovative, formidable entrepreneur fade into obscurity?

"There’s been a marked absence of Harper from history books -- I think it’s because our society was not ready to acknowledge the brilliance of a businesswoman," said Jane Plitt, a visiting scholar at the University of Rochester and author of "Martha Matilda Harper and the American Dream."

A seven-month Harper exhibit featuring a replica of a 1920s salon opened Saturday at the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

Harper’s picaresque journey began in poverty in Canada. From the age of 7, she worked for 25 years as a servant and, through a friendship with an herbalist, learned about vigorous scalp treatments and shampoo formulas used to help retain hair’s healthy sheen.

After opening her first shop here in 1888, she recruited working-class women to run salons from San Francisco to Detroit and Edinburgh to Berlin. Often relying on their mentor’s backing, "Harperites" remained loyal to her long after they became financially independent.

"Back then, women always seemed to have to work harder than men to accomplish anything," said Jane Reed, 83, who got a job at a Harper salon in 1941 and owned her own from 1964 to 1995 in Coral Gables, Fla. "She did a lot to get women established in business."

Harper ran training schools, set up coordinated advertising, insisted on organic ingredients. She designed business duplication tools mandatory in every salon, notably the first reclining shampoo chair and a sink with a cutout lip for the neck to rest.

She died in 1950 at age 93, but the Harper Method operated until 1972 when its assets were bought by a competitor. "This woman perfected modern franchising," Plitt said. "There’s just no doubt -- she’s got it down to a T."

"We have no reason to dispute it," Terry Hill of the International Franchise Association, said of the assertion Harper trailblazed the business model.

Franchising, however, is more closely associated with companies such as Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants and Holiday Inn hotels that emerged in the "high-water mark" years of business growth after World War II and survive to this day, Hill said.

The reason Harper is little-known "could be one of those cultural anomalies where women just weren’t considered business people" during her era, he said. "It’s been a man’s world for a long time."

Today, an estimated 350,000 franchise companies operate globally in 75 industries.

18. India to Set Up Medicinal Plants Board
May 31, M2 Communications - Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. C.P.Thakur has said that the proposed Medicinal Plants Board will be set up as a non-statutory body through a Government resolution. Once formed, it will be replaced by a Statutory Board through an Act of Parliament.

While addressing media persons here, today Dr. Thakur said that a Task Force on Conservation and Sustainable use of Medicinal Plants set up under the chairmanship of the Member, Planning Commission, Dr. D.N.Tiwari submitted its report. The report has estimated that Rs.1000 crore would be needed for the period of five years for comprehensive development of Medicinal Plants Sector.

Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Family Welfare, Department of Bio-Technology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Department of ISM&H have been assigned specific responsibilities for undertaking conservation of medicinal plants, cultivation of endangered and valuable species, establishment of Vanaspati Vans, improving awareness, standardisation and Research and Development. The nodal responsibility for medicinal plants has been given to the Department of ISM&H for coordinating the efforts of various stake holders through the establishment of Medicinal Plants Board. A Monitoring Committee is being set up to co-ordinate all activities.

India is participating in the Expo 2000 held at Hannover, Germany from 1st June to 31st October 2000. The theme of the Expo is " Humankind Nature and Technology". The theme of the Indian pavilion is "Art of Living in Harmony".

The practitioners of Ayurveda have been permitted to do diagnosis and dispense medicines, free of cost. Yoga demonstration is also planned to be shown in the pavilion.

Rs.20 crore has been earmarked in the Annual Plan 2000-2001 for assisting States of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Rajasthan, Kerala and Karnataka to strengthen their State Drug Testing Laboratories and modernise the Pharmacies.

A Memorandum of Understanding was entered into on 15th May, 2000 between the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Central Council for Research in Unani medicine with a view to drawing upon the strength of CSIR to help the Unani Medicine Laboratories. A similar collaboration for Ayurveda will be ventured soon.

By 2005 Indian exports of herbal medicines will reach Rs.5000 crore mark which is at present at Rs.280 crore. Herbal plantations will be raised in 5000 hectares of forest land over the next 5 years.

Secretary ISM&H, Smt. Shailaja Chandra has disclosed that Dr.Devanayagam of Government Siddha Hospital, Tambaram, Chennai, has been treating AIDS/HIV patients with encouraging results. Opportunity infections could be curbed leading to the improvement of quality of life of the patients who are undergoing treatment. A similar achievement has been made by a Mumbai based Homoeopathy practitioner, whose treatment has brought down the viral load of the HIV patients numbering over 1000. British Homoeopathy Society has evaluated the work of Indian Homoeopathy practitioners.

[Rs.1 crore = Rs.10,000,000 = US$225,000 -- ed.]

19. India’s Kashmir Eyes Fortune in Medicinal Trees
By Ashok Pahalwan

JAMMU, India, May 22, Reuters -- India’s troubled Kashmir province, where business has traditionally revolved around tourism, apple farming and handicrafts, is eyeing a new opportunity in trees that could yield wonder medicines.

Officials of Jammu and Kashmir state, which is trying hard to boost its economy as part of efforts to reverse the damage caused by a 10-year-old separatist rebellion, said that their experiments had shown promise.

Principal Chief Conservator of forests in the state, P. Patnaik, told Reuters on Monday that the plants had vast potential in the manufacture of anti-cancer drugs and even drugs that might control AIDS.

"There are foreign countries which are promoting herbal medicines from the Himalayas for various diseases," he said, adding that medicinal trees could help check joblessness, which officials often link to separatist militancy.

"This is a labour-intensive job and this can generate large-scale employment," Patnaik said.

Financial details could be considered only after the trees show potential for large-scale production of medicines, he said.

- Cutting Key for Rare Mountain Trees -

The rare trees grow in the Himalayas at different altitudes and their propagation through the use of cuttings and grafting is the key to success, officials say.

The State Forest Research Institute (SFRI) has successfully conducted experiments in the propagation of medicinal trees with names such as texus baccata, resount and herar by nurturing cuttings from the trees in nurseries and grafting them on to trees in nearby areas.

Speaking to forest officials at Tangamarg, 45 km (28 miles) northwest of Srinagar, the state’s summer capital, on Sunday, SFRI’s director, D.S. Swatantra, said that for the first time a successful experiment had been conducted on propagation of texus baccata through cuttings.

The leaves and barks of this tree produce Texol, which is used for the treatment of cancer, officials said. The rare species has been found at an altitude of 6,000 feet (1,830 metres) in the Gulmarg range in the area.

Swatantra said the institute had constructed a shade house, a mist chamber and a preparation site to grow the cuttings and experiments were being conducted with hormones that promote root growth to achieve greater success.

Similar experiments have been successfully conducted on other species with medicinal value and in the southern Jammu region, the herar medicinal plant had also been propagated by reducing its germination period to 15 days from 70, he said.

20. Mexican Shaman Heals with Human Oven
By Elizabeth Fullerton

AJIJIC, Mexico, May 30, Reuters -- Banging drums and singing while crouched naked in a pitch-black, roasting-hot brick igloo might well induce panic rather than calm in most people.

But Mexican shaman Katuza, who claims to have cured 20,000 people of a range of illnesses, swears by the ancient Indian tradition of the temazcal: a fire-heated human oven or steam bath, which he says has important healing properties.

"In there things happen that we still don’t know (how to explain)," Katuza, 49, told Reuters in an interview at his home in the lakeside town of Ajijic in central Jalisco state.

Drawn by word of mouth, people come from as far as Japan and New Zealand to be cured by Katuza and his pupil-cum-muse Hikulima, 23. Both names are Nahuatl, the Aztec language.

The point of the temazcal, used by Aztecs, Mayans and other tribes more than 500 years ago, is to sweat out illnesses and redistribute energy, Katuza said. "The main thing is to transform the person, and that is done through fire."

Literally, temaz and calli mean bath and house in Nahuatl.

"You’ll go on a voyage," Katuza told three wide-eyed visitors. "You’ll see whether you prefer hospital or this."

- Using Hands to Detect Illnesses -

Katuza, long brown-gray hair swaying as he moves, starts the treatment with a full massage in the courtyard, kneading his patient’s body into a rag-doll-like state of relaxation.

"With our hands we detect what’s wrong with someone," he said. "We don’t look at the clothes or listen to the stories people tell but the story their bodies tell."

Katuza said he was taught how to heal by his uncle when he was a child but spent 18 years on the streets as an alcoholic before deciding to turn his life around. His heavily lined face bears witness to his previous trauma.

" I was nearly paralysed, my body was nearly dead and I couldn’t talk. At that point I made a pledge to God to help me and I would never drink again, and I haven’t," he said.

Katuza’s modest yellow-painted adobe house stands at one end of his tranquil garden planted with cactuses, herbs, palms and flowers. A cow’s skull hangs from the window pane, along with an eagle’s wing, a crucifix and various magic charms.

The domed temazcal, roughly 6.5 feet (2 metres) in diameter and 5 feet (1.5 metres) high, sits squat against the garden wall, with an adjoining compartment outside where wood and leaves are burned to heat the inside chamber. A plunge pool beckons a few feet away.

The temazcal is said to help gynecological complaints, the nervous system, breathing and muscular and bone problems.

After the massage, the next stage of the treatment is to slap thick, cooling mud brought down by Katuza from nearby mountains onto every inch of the body. Once the mud cakes, patients are hosed down and led, naked, to the temazcal.

"People say hell is hot because they’ve never been inside a temazcal," Katuza said with a loud, hearty laugh.

- Inside the Temazcal -

Inside, Katuza seals off the entrance with a thick blanket and utters a prayer: "Welcome to this blessed temazcal, we hope for good vibrations with the earth, the trees, the lake..."

About four people can fit in the average temazcal, seen as symbolising a womb. All must introduce themselves. Then Katuza offers up a blessing to the four elements, represented by the cardinal points, and throws water against the hot wall, sending the temperature up a few notches each time.

Suddenly he grabs a gourd and begins pounding it. His deep voice booms out in song: "Red parrot, red parrot, what are you eating? Here there’s nothing, pure peyote."

Peyote is a hallucinogenic cactus used by Huichol Indians in religious rites.

Hikulima joins in with a flute until the scorching air is filled with rhythms and chanting and the smell of eucalyptus and sage plants, which lie strewn across the earthern floor. As the heat rises in the confined chamber, hair and skin burn and the air is almost too hot to breathe.

"Many people haven’t been without their clothes on (in front of others) or in a dark room so small. You have to learn to think differently, leave your problems, your sins, your fears behind. Here everything’s equal," Katuza said.

When the heat becomes unbearable, it is time to make a dash for the cold plunge bath. Then Katuza wraps each person in blankets from head to toe and lays them out in the courtyard to drift off into a gentle sleep to the sound of birdsong.

The sensation of release is overwhelming.

- Alternative Traditions Big in Mexico -

Mexicans, though staunch Catholics, also have a love of superstition and alternative traditions.

In the drought-afflicted northern state of Zacatecas, seven town mayors recently called in a shaman in the desperate hope he could invoke his rain gods and save the rapidly dying livestock and farmland, according to TV Azteca.

Katuza and Hikulima travel around the country building temazcals for impoverished local communities, many of which can pay only in offerings or pledges to their saints.

On a recent trip to the western state of Guerrero, they prepared 24 temazcals in two days and treated 200 people.

Katuza laments the loss of traditional healing techniques: "The traditions are being lost because the young New Age lot are not curers. I know only a handful of real healers."

He lived for six years with the Huichols, based mainly in northern Mexico, where he said he learned to heal their way, using feathers and mirrors.

"Scientists, for all their modern technology, never knew how to use a mirror and the sun to detect illnesses," he said, holding a pocket-sized mirror at an angle to shine the sun’s reflection onto the chest of a patient.

"When someone has a tumour it comes up as a small black point," he said. "It’s very clear to detect."

21. Chinese Farmer Makes Fortune by Planting Trees and Medicinal Herbs
YINCHUAN, May 23, Xinhua -- A Chinese farmer living in a village in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region has become a millionaire by planting trees and growing medicinal herbs.

Shi Pinfa, a villager in Guyuan, one of the poorest counties in China, has made more than one million yuan (125,000 US dollars) by selling saplings and herbs in the past 20 years.

Twenty years ago, Shi tried planting some Beijing poplar in his 3 mu (0.2 hectare) of land, earning 5,000 yuan (602 dollars) by the year’s end. In the following seven years, he made more money by expanding the planting area and increasing the variety of trees.

In 1989, Shi planted 100,000 Chinese pines in all his 36 mu (2.4 hectares) of land after he found them both easy to grow and lucrative way to make money.

In 1998, he leased some land from his neighbor to grow medicinal herbs, and soon struck it rich.

Shi is concerned with the environment in his village, where excessive logging has made a nearby hill barren. He has a plan to plant trees on the hill and make it green again.

22. Chinese Government Prioritizes Biotechnology Industry and Herbs
BEIJING, May 23, AsiaPulse -- China has unique competitive edges in biotechnology and industry.

The Chinese government has given high priority in this field and has launched a series of programs and funds.

In addition, more and more investment were poured into R&D of high technology in China. Statistics show that the R&D investment into biological industry rose by 40 percent in the Ninth Five-Year Plan Period (1996-2000).

Furthermore, lots of people from China are conducting advanced research overseas and more and more of them are returning to China.

China also has a sharp edge in herbal medicine, and will be a contributing factor in the development of new biological products.

23. Ghanaian Government Officially Recognizes Role of Traditional Healers
By Alexandra Zavis

TARKWA, Ghana, May 1, AP -- The drumming and clapping beat louder. The singing reaches fever pitch. A woman, supported by two assistants, throws back her head and screams.

Crouched in front of her, a man in a bright red robe sucks ferociously at her leg, then spits a nail into a dish.

By the end of the two-hour ceremony, priest Daniel Sofo has purportedly removed about 20 nails, needles and pebbles from the bodies of a half-dozen patients at his healing camp -- a neat compound of thatched huts where Christianity mixes with traditional healing rituals.

In a country where traditional healers far outnumber Western-trained doctors, the first stop for many sick people is a herbalist, fetish priest or spiritualist like Sofo.

Now, after decades of resisting their influence, doctors, aid workers and government officials have decided to work with the traditional healers in an effort to improve basic health care.

"Almost every Ghanaian has sought out the help of a traditional healer at one point in his life," says Dr. Emanuel Nathan Mensah, director general of the national health service. "There are pockets across the country where doctors and traditional healers are working well together, but we want to formalize it."

In one of the first such moves in Africa, President Jerry Rawlings signed a law in February officially recognizing traditional healers and seeking to integrate them into the formal health care sector.

The legislation requires that traditional healers belong to a recognized professional association for which they need approval of a local administrator and a traditional chief.

The health department is also preparing a course for traditional healers covering the hygienic preparation of herbal remedies and how to diagnose chronic diseases such as tuberculosis, polio and AIDS.

The approach is winning favor with Western-based development groups like the World Health Organization, which has started urging cooperation between the traditional and modern medical communities in Africa.

In Tarkwa, a sprawling gold-mining town on Ghana’s western frontier, there is just one run-down hospital with three doctors for a region of about 150,000 people. But there are an estimated 400 traditional healers in the town and surrounding villages.

Religion, often a mix of Christian and traditional beliefs, is central to life in Tarkwa, home to such businesses as the Trust in God Beauty Salon and God is the Way liquor store.

For Kabina Takyi, 35, it was easier to go to a village priestess than to make the hours-long journey down a bumpy dirt road to the hospital in town.

Frail and emaciated, he lies on a mat in a mud shrine perfumed with incense, where high priestess Agnes Aidoo makes incantations over a cup of water to summon spirits that will guide the treatment.

Aidoo, a kindly old woman in a yellow print dress whose hands are deformed by leprosy, treats the curse that she says is causing Takyi’s illness. But she sends him to the hospital for drugs for his physical complaints -- chest pains, breathing difficulties and a persistent cough.

"I wouldn’t have gone (to the hospital) if the high priestess hadn’t told me to," Takyi says. "My faith in her work is so strong."

As in most West African societies, the people here believe illnesses have spiritual as well as physical causes. Belief in the power of traditional healers runs deep, and they are venerated in their communities.

They are also cheaper than Western doctors, and patients can settle their bills with a chicken or other food item if they don’t have cash.

Realizing the influence of traditional healers, the aid group CARE International enlisted their help three years ago in the fight against AIDS in Tarkwa.

With a large and mobile mining population, many of them migrants from other parts of the country or nearby Nigeria or Ivory Coast, there is a high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.

CARE started training traditional healers in the detection and treatment of these illnesses, encouraging them to refer more serious cases to the hospitals. Healers who participated in the one-week course also were given a wooden penis to teach their followers how to use condoms.

"These people have unparalleled access," says a CARE spokeswoman, Wendy Driscoll. "That is what we are tapping into."

The results have been impressive. The number of referrals from traditional healers has soared by the thousands, says Dr. Bernard Boateng-Duah, senior medical officer at the Tarkwa government hospital.

Doctors, in turn, have come to appreciate what traditional healers can contribute.

"It has opened my eyes," Boateng-Duah says. "I looked at Western health care as the ultimate way, but when we talk to the traditional health care providers, we find there are a lot of things we can learn from them."

He has studied some traditional remedies and believes there are herbs that are effective against hypertension, abscesses and worms, among other ailments. When he can, he likes to give his patients the choice of using herbal preparations instead of the hospital’s usually more expensive drugs.

He also believes patients with incurable ailments like AIDS can benefit emotionally from consulting spiritualists, who provide an explanation for their condition and hope of relief.

Other hospitals have started making use of traditional expertise on the premises, enlisting the help of locals who set broken bones, for example.

Traditional healers welcome their newfound respect and status within the medical community.

"There is no rivalry at all," said Sofo, a young and charismatic healer whose patients are mostly women. "If there is a spiritual aspect to the problem, I take care of it. Problems that I find are physical, I refer to hospital."

Many healers used to refuse to refer patients to Western doctors.

Sofo says hospital staff would remove the protective talismans he gave his patients to protect them from spirit attacks. Herbalist Yacuba Abdalla says that when he referred patients suffering from chronic diarrhea or vomiting, hospital staff blamed his preparations.

These days doctors sometimes refer patients to Abdalla for bone setting. In return, he’s happy to throw in a little sex education while peddling his remedies in the streets and on the trains.

"Now the hospital refers patients to me. And when I can’t manage, I refer them to the hospital," Abdalla says. "So I feel that they are doing their part and I am doing mine."

24. "Last Herbal Clinic" Offers Affordable Health Care for Ghanaians
By Mami Esi Rockson

ACCRA, Ghana, May 22, Accra Mail -- With the advent of orthodox medicine, many Ghanaians threw away the tried and tested traditional remedies for their ailments, and opted for "white man’s" medicine.

With the myriad side effects of drugs and resultant complications, people in Europe and America and drug manufacturers are looking to the herbs of the earth for alternatives. Now many Ghanaians realise what they have got, and you can find herbal shops and clinics dotted all over, with a rising attendance rate.

At Kasoa in the Central Region, there is a different type of herbal clinic, ‘Last Herbal Research Clinic’, located about two kilometres from the main Obuom Road. It is different because the doctor there not only deals in herbs, but also homeopathic treatment.

Homeopathy is an alternative treatment to the orthodox. It deals with the natural, such as herbs, plants, parts of the soil, parts of animals and poisons from plants and animals, etc.

The Accra Mail visited Mr. Saiid Kwesi Adu, the doctor-in-charge of the clinic to find out what he does and how he treats his patients.

"There are many things we do but we mainly deal with advanced herbs, that is herbs that have been well-researched into, homeopathy and treatment with herbs. Organs that are under-functioning causing diseases can be treated," Mr. Adu said.

He obtained his diploma in Homeopathy after studying in London and India in 1996 for three years and has been practicing on his own for over seven years.

At the Last Herbal Clinic, Mr. Saiid Adu has a machine called the Radionic Computer, which detects every ailment in the body, and in what percentage, then he prescribes the right herbal treatment for the patient. Meaning if you have typhoid fever, this computer is able to detect it and also detect the level of infection, then you are given the right treatment.

Unlike many herbal medicines, medicines at the Last Herbal Research Clinic are not bitter.

The Last Herbal Research Clinic’s doctor told The Accra Mail that he has no farm for planting the herbs but rather he buys his herbs from herbal shops around and also orders some local herbs from villages.

Asked how he came by the name Last Herbal Research Clinic, Mr. Adu explained that he once had a patient with stroke and was able to treat her. The patient wanted to do something in appreciation of what he had done for her, so she decided to register the clinic for him. He said he gave the woman the name "Compu Service" but the name was rejected at the Registrar General’s Department because there was already a company by that name in existence. So the woman just told the registrar, "Well this was the last place I went and was cured," thus the name ‘Last Herbal Research Clinic’.

At this clinic, one can find Mr. Adu’s consulting room surrounded with books for research. He said he believes in research, so he researches into every ailment before he prescribes medication.

"All kinds of diseases and sicknesses can be treated here," he said. "Diseases of the nervous system, skeletal system, muscular system, fibroids, men with low sperm count, infertility in women, skin diseases, name them."

"At Last Herbal Clinic, the average Ghanaian worker can afford the bills. Patients are well taken care of and one would not regret visiting Mr. Saiid Adu for any form of treatment," one patient said.

25. The Day Witchdoctors Abandoned Their Old Ways

KAMPALA, May 22, All Africa News Agency -- A mixture of emotions was recently witnessed at a fully packed parish church in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, during the unprecedented conversion of 400 witchdoctors, who have now reformed their ways.

It was the culmination of the work of a missionary priest who toured some rural counties urging people to turn to God. The priest has managed to win back many Christians who had hitherto strayed from the path of salvation, says AANA’s Special Correspondent.

Excitement mixed with surprise and disbelief is what recently characterised a fully packed parish church of Christ the King in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, when 15 of the 400 converted witchdoctors from the northern districts of Lira and Apach, gave testimonies of how they have been hoodwinking people.

The three-day gathering attracted the attention of the media, believers, animists and newspaper cartoonists, who depicted "reputable" witchdoctors from across the continent, scampering to the church on the justification that even Jesus entered the homes of sinners and tax collectors.

Speculation about what was to occur were as varied as the people who attended the unique service. But the majority of the congregation feared an excited debate between church leaders and the witchdoctors would erupt.

In the end, there was no acrimony nor accusations. It was a day of repentance and the congregation was treated to a session of confessions and revelations of the past indulgences in "human divine power".

They arrived clad in wild cat and leopard attire, with a red and yellow head band on each of the witchdoctors’ fore head. There was excited appreciation all around as the crowd watched in earnest.

They disclosed through narrative stories and demonstrations how they elicited cash payments from people, changed their voices to assume the presence of a spirit or ghost and how they were, after all, unable to communicate with the spirits.

"I was lured into witchcraft for six years after being threatened by a witchdoctor that I would not recover from my illness unless I joined the practice," Josephine Ayugi, sombre and sad, reflected in front of the sympathising and attentive audience.

She further narrated how she was forced to change her voice when speaking and to pretend to be communicating with the spirit by hiding behind the shrine wall.

There were further revelations from Benticia Atwol and Elen Akol both from Lira district who have practised witchcraft for over 10 years. This is because witchdoctors persuaded them to follow the earthly spiritual line when they fell intensely ill.

"I was forced to offer three heads of cattle to the spirits and told never to reveal the secret of changing my voice," Atwol recalled while Akol, from Para parish, narrated how she learned how to kill people and subsequently take over their property.

Akol revealed that when she knew that the witchdoctor s were telling them lies and living on the ignorance of the unsuspecting clients, she decided to quit the pretentious ways witchcraft in May last year.

Probably the person who best described the trickery of the witchdoctor was Rev Canon Eliya Kayiira, a former witchdoctor for over 20 years.

According to Kayiira, the assumed possession of individuals by spirits is based on a special herb or medicine which is spilled in the fire by the witchdoctor during rituals dedicated to the spirits or ghosts.

The odour emitted from the medicine is capable of weakening people with less resolve. From the intoxication and frenzy of the ritual activities characterised by drumming and singing, the victim will jump up and down until drowsiness overcomes that activity. The convert then falls to the ground.

Kayiira said that when the victim acknowledges having been possessed, the witchdoctors then celebrate on having been victorious. He also explained that jinns in the shrine are linked with fire simply because under the cover of darkness, witchdoctors are able to produce sparks of fire from the friction of two stones clashed together.

The banging of the shrine door and the subsequent voices produced to indicate the arrival of the jinn to solve people’s problems are all performed by the witchdoctor who will go to the extent of beating his subjects severely in case they make any movements towards him.

"It is this fear of the witchdoctor and his knowledge about the clients affairs having been relayed to him by other clients who interact with the client that gives him power Clients then pay for the services without hesitation to have their problems solved," Kayiira said.

The conversion of the 400 witchdoctors, who have now been fully admitted into society, is the work of a missionary priest Fr Ross Russo who has traversed the counties of Lira and Apach urging people to turn to God.

Moving with a number of coveted witchdoctors, Russo has managed to convince many Christians who sought fulfilment in witchcraft to turn to God. He further urged the practising witchdoctors to repent.

Kayiira believes the question of the existence of spirits, ghosts or jinn is dependent on whether one believes in their existence or not. To him, spirits exist if one believes in their power.

He is however quick to point out that their power is certainly weaker than the spirit of God which he decided to follow after realising that he was living on ignorance even predominant among the most educated people of Uganda.

Uganda has a population of over 22 million people, according to last year estimates. Out of these some 9.7 million people or 44 percent of the population practice traditional religions or are animists. Some of them usually resort to witchcraft.

There are also some Christians who resort to witchcraft to find out the cause of their troubles, sickness, loss of property or even the death of their children or relatives. This trend continues to grow with the increasing poverty and unexplained illnesses.

Witchcraft is definitely far from over in Uganda given the number of children who continue to be killed by witches as a necessary sacrifice to the gods to end the sufferings and misery of some families.

In addition, the Church cannot adequately address the sufferings including illnesses of the congregation. Many ordinary folks expect instant miracles to overcome the over-riding poverty and misery.

But the triumph of the Catholic Church in Northern Uganda and the continuing crusade of Russo to traverse witchcraft-ridden lands, is an indication that the battle to rid people of ignorance and show them the light of truth has started and will continue.

Presently, One FM radio station in Kampala has joined the crusade of the church by encouraging people to work hard and desist from consulting witchdoctors "who have nothing to offer". Trust in God, the source of all prosperity, they say.

26. Herb Business News
Richters Herbs: Gets Expansion Approved

By Kerri Dent

UXBRIDGE, Ont., May 3, Uxbridge Times-Journal -- Richters Herbs is looking to expand.

Conrad Richter made a deputation before council on Monday to build greenhouses on a second property that has been purchased because the current land just east of Goodwood does not allow for any more greenhouses to be built.

"We need to expand," said Mr. Richter.

He said that 95 percent of the company’s products are sold to non-residents of Uxbridge. Ninety percent of products sold are mail order, 30 percent go to the U.S., and half of the products are being sold via the Internet.

Mr. Richter said he would prefer to expand in Uxbridge, but if that doesn’t work out he will be locating elsewhere.

"It’s important that we maintain you in our municipality," said Coun. Larry Austin, chair of the planning committee.

Council moved that Richters Herbs be allowed to build greenhouses and grow crops on the second property.

Chai-Na-Ta: Announces New C.E.O.

LANGLEY, B.C., May 25, CCN Disclosure -- Chai-Na-Ta Corp. announced today that its President and Chief Executive Officer, Gerry Gill, has resigned effective May 24, 2000. Mr. William Zen, CNT’s new Chairman will replaced him.

CNT recently completed a major restructuring program that eliminated $28 million of debt and obtained $5 million of new working capital through an equity investment by Herb King International Limited ("Herb King").

Herb King is a subsidiary of Road King Infrastructure Limited ("Road King"), a Hong Kong based publicly listed company, with assets over CDN$1 billion. The investment provides Road King with a majority control in CNT of 62.6%.

Gill said, "The Company has just came though a very successful restructuring and is now in the strongest financial position in its history. I have accomplished what I had set out to do, which was to save our employees’ jobs and to create value for our shareholders."

The new Chairman and CEO, Mr. William Zen, also said, "I am really proud of the good condition that our Company is presently in. I believe the Company is now poised to reap the benefits from an expected industry rebound and is financially structured to maximize its opportunities. But the major growth of the Company should not be only from farming, it should also be from new value-added product developments through enhancing the existing Research & Development and Marketing activities."

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

Except for historical information contained herein, the matters discussed in this press release are forward looking statements that involve risks and uncertainty, including but not limited to general business conditions and other risks as outlined in the Company’s periodic filings, annual report, and Form 20-F. Such risks and uncertainties may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected.

IBM and TwinLab: Launch Web Site

SOMERS, N.Y., May 24, Business Wire -- IBM today announced that it has partnered with Twinlab Corporation to launch an e-commerce Web site ( for its Bronson Laboratories, Inc. direct sales division. The site, powered by IBM e-business technology, features vitamins, nutritional supplements, herbs and personal care products for sale, while offering research and educational information to consumers.

Twinlab sought to rapidly expand Bronson’s current base of catalog customers with an easy to navigate, informative e-commerce site. The site features Product Index, Product Consultant and Nutritional Education categories that are designed to help consumers make educated choices as to the product that best meets their particular, unique requirements.

The company needed a solution that dovetailed with its legacy systems, and provided the scalability necessary for future enhancements, which include the addition of a sports nutrition link to connect consumers to information and tips on active lifestyles and general physical fitness.

"With the help of IBM, went live in just three months, enabling the company to bring more than 400 products to a customer base far beyond our catalog reach," said Thomas W. Shinick, president of Bronson Laboratories, Inc. "IBM’s WebSphere Commerce Suite platform provided us with the capabilities to develop a clean, simple and informative front end. It also gave us the flexibility and portability we needed to connect to the back end systems currently in place."

The Bronson solution is powered by IBM e-business technology: WebSphere Commerce Suite PRO (formerly Net.Commerce), DB2 Universal Database for Windows NT, Domino Go and the NetFinity 5500 server.

Twinlab Corporation, headquartered in Hauppauge, N.Y., is a leading manufacturer and marketer of high-quality, science-based, nutritional supplements, including a complete line of vitamins and minerals, nutraceuticals, herbs and sports nutrition products.

Bronson Laboratories manufactures, markets and distributes its doctor-recommended products through catalogs and direct mailings to customers. It also manufactures private-label vitamins and nutritional supplements for a number of other companies.

Holistic-Online: Named Best Web Site by Psychology Today Magazine

HUDSON, Ohio, May 24, BW HealthWire --, the web site founded by Ohio residents Drs. Jacob and Shila Mathew, has been named the best website to learn about Ayurveda and other therapies by Psychology Today Magazine, published by the American Psychological Association. provides objective information on all aspects of health, with an emphasis on mind-body and alternative therapies, herbs, nutrition and stress management. The site now attracts upwards of 20,000 visitors a week and is backed by an international team of physicians and other experts. It is one of the top web sites for health on the Internet.

"Our site is being used by several researchers. The most popular areas for research seem to be prayer healing, yoga, herbal remedies and stress management. Several librarians have contacted us for further information that is not covered on the web site. When we started the web site, one of our objectives was to provide in-depth information. Our visitors agree that we do it well," said Dr. Jacob Mathew.

Interestingly, may have helped people of Yugoslavia relax during the height of the Kosovo war and bombing. "We had several emails from Yugoslavia during the war stating that they depend on the techniques recommended by our site to overcome stress," Dr. Jacob Mathew said. "When we started the web site, I would not have imagined that we would get correspondence from countries such as Greece, Maldives, Greenland, Mexico, Chile, Panama, Malaysia, China, Poland, Romania, India, Pakistan, Peru and Indonesia. This also shows the true power of the Internet in reaching a worldwide audience." was founded out of the concerns of Shila Mathew, M.D., a staff psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente Health Plan, to provide accurate information to her patients. "These days, more than ever, it is important that you take control of your own treatment, and this requires knowledge," said Shila. provides a complete nutrition database online. It also has the largest herbal database on the Internet, along with safety aspects of herbs, something that is very difficult to find anywhere else.

So what’s next for "We have barely scratched the surface," says Dr. Mathew. "Everyday, I get e-mail from people requesting new topics on the site. In response, one of the areas we are currently working on is information about and alternatives to Hormone Replace Therapy (HRT) and menopausal issues. We are also wrapping up our cancer section. Cancer therapy is one of the most requested features by our visitors, as there is very little objective information available about alternative treatments. We are working with several well-known experts in the field, including one physician from Israel. We expect, when unveiled, this area will even eclipse our stress management site as the most popular destination in" is developed by ICBS, Inc., an Akron Based business that develops interactive web sites, e-commerce and enterprise solutions.

Best Incense: Launches Web Site Offering Fresh Hand-dipped Incense

LOS ANGELES, May 23, Business Wire -- Best Incense Co. announced the launching of its Web site, offering fresh hand-dipped incense, designer-type perfume oils and luxury bath crystals.

Offering literally hundreds of frangances to choose from, Best Incense is expanding its line daily with more than 300 fragrances already available. While many incense sites offer the brands of other companies, Best Incense manufactures its own incense, and it’s made fresh to order. The Best Incense Co. allows purchasers to select incense retail or wholesale.

Sophisticated, secure and quick, the Best Incense cyber store was developed by founder Herb King, who said, "Ordering is easy by fax, phone or online, using your Visa, Mastercard or checks; and consumers will receive the best products, excellent customer service and fast delivery."

Best Incense has offices in Los Angeles, where it also houses its fulfillment warehouse.

Back to Richters HerbLetter

Copyright © 1997-2019 Otto Richter and Sons Limited. All rights reserved.