Richters HerbLetter

Date: 2001/07/31
1. Many Herbal Sleep Products Lack Key Claimed Ingredient Valerian
2. U.S. National Survey Documenting Widespread Use of Dietary Supplements
3. Where Should Pharmacies be Located in the Future?
4. Research Casts Doubt on Medical Marijuana
5. Sugar Cane Extracts Can Lower LDL Cholesterol, Report Cuban Researchers
6. Doctors Issue Herb Guideline Respectfully
7. Mixing Herbs, Surgery Can be Risky
8. California Company Recalls Herbal Products Containing Aristolochic Acid
9. FDA Advises Dietary Supplement Manufacturers to Drop Comfrey Products
10. U.S. Government Agencies Crack Down On Online Comfrey Sales
11. California Botanicals Firm Drops All Comfrey Products
12. FDA Launches New Dietary Supplement Electronic Newsletter
13. NSF International Announces Draft Standard for Dietary Supplements
14. South African Minister Brews AIDS Medicine
15. South American Tree for Digestive Health
16. Montserrat Jungle Yields Ethnobotanical Oddities and Treasures
17. East China Province Promotes Medicine Industry
18. Major U.S. Horticultural Company Files for Bankruptcy
19. Illinois Lavender Farm Becomes Popular
20. King of Herbs: Basil Reigns Supreme on Summer Tables
21. Spice It Up: Lemon Verbana
22. The Search for Cinnamon
23. Iced Tea Gets Dressed Up with Fruit and Herbs
24. Wimpy Habanero Peppers
25. Naturopaths and The Medicinal Magic of Herbs
26. Cooks Can Choose from a Bouquet of Basil Varieties
27. Herb Business News

1. Many Herbal Sleep Products Lack Key Claimed Ingredient Valerian
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 9, PRNewswire --, an independent evaluator of dietary supplements and nutrition products, today released results of its Product Review of valerian supplements -- used primarily as sleep aids and minor tranquilizers. Sales of valerian more than doubled in the past twelve months, making it the fastest growing herbal product in the U.S. according to the research firm Information Resources, Inc. purchased seventeen products claiming to contain Valeriana officinalis root, the species for which most supporting clinical evidence exists, and tested them for key marker compounds to evaluate the identity and quantity of the herb present. Neither the FDA nor any other federal or state agency routinely tests valerian products, or other supplements, for quality prior to sale.

Only nine of the seventeen valerian products passed’s testing. Four products completely lacked the marker compounds that identify the presence of Valeriana officinalis and four others had roughly half of the expected levels. Results were confirmed in a second independent laboratory per’s protocols.

"This is a real problem that people may literally be losing sleep over. Of additional concern, however, is the possibility that products which totally lacked the expected marker compounds were made from an inappropriate species of Valerian -- particularly since these products had the characteristic smell of Valerian root," said Tod Cooperman, M.D.,’s President. Products made from some species other than Valeriana officinalis can be rich in a compound, didrovaltrate, which has been shown to be toxic to cells in laboratory testing. Dr. Cooperman added, "This type of error has been known to occur with valerian material in the market. If you are going to use valerian, it would seem wise to stick to those products that passed the testing."

The complete list of valerian products that passed the review as well as ConsumerTips(TM) on buying and using valerian are now available to’s online subscribers at . General findings and examples of approved products are also available for free from the Web site. Similar information is available online from for Asian and American ginseng, calcium, chondroitin, CoQ10, creatine, echinacea, ginkgo biloba, glucosamine, MSM, multivitamins/multiminerals, SAM-e, saw palmetto, St. John’s wort, and vitamins C and E. Other Product Reviews scheduled for release this year include phytoestrogens, omega-3-fatty acids, iron and protein/energy bars.’s Buyer’s Guide to Supplements is to be published in print early next year. To further assist consumers, licenses its flask-shaped CL Seal of Approved Quality (see The CL Seal) to manufacturers for use on products that have passed its evaluations. is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition.

2. U.S. National Survey Documenting Widespread Use of Dietary Supplements
NEW YORK, July 30, PRNewswire -- With mounting evidence that consumers want greater access to information about vitamins, minerals, herbs and specialty supplements, the dietary supplement industry today launched one of the most far reaching public education campaigns ever to focus on the health benefits, safety and regulation of these important products.

At a news conference in New York, political leaders and public health experts joined with industry executives to unveil the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau (TM), a repository of science-based information about all aspects of supplementation. Backed by noted experts in the fields of nutrition, integrative medicine, pharmacology and supplement regulation, the bureau is a first of its kind: the first education arm for the industry that is designed to turn the "E" in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) into a national priority. Enacted in 1994, DSHEA not only gave consumers greater access to dietary supplements but also called on manufacturers and retailers to provide meaningful information about using these products.

"As more and more Americans are taking an active role in maintaining and improving their health, they need good, reliable information about the health benefits and responsible use of dietary supplements," said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), one of the original sponsors of DSHEA in the Congress. "Research has been mounting about the health benefits of supplements. We need to make sure that consumers have ready access to the latest science-based facts so that they can evaluate these products and use them effectively."

To address this challenge, the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau(TM) will use multiple channels -- the mass media, public service announcements, the Internet, and point-of-purchase materials -- to give the public complete, authoritative information about the uses, benefits, supporting science, precautions and recommended dosage levels of the most widely consumed dietary supplements. Of special significance, the campaign features a new web site -- http// -- where consumers, health professionals, educators, policymakers and the media can conduct individualized searches about the industry or any supplement product.

More importantly,, which was developed in partnership with Intramedicine, a web-based research and information company specializing in compiling scientifically validated research on integrative medicine, will provide unrestricted access to over 180 scientific monographs on vitamins, minerals, herbs and nutraceuticals. Intramedicine’s monographs and reports are peer-reviewed and updated as new scientific data becomes available making it possible for anyone visiting to have real-time, online reporting of the latest information about the role of dietary supplements in managing specific health conditions.

The campaign is the outgrowth of the first comprehensive national survey on the use of dietary supplements. Called the Dietary Supplement Barometer Survey, the research finds that while most consumers use supplements regularly, some lack specific information about the benefits and effective use of these popular products. Specifically, Harris Interactive, Inc. polled 1,027 Americans aged 18 and over, finding that the majority of Americans believe in supplements and takes them on a regular basis. According to the survey, which was fielded in July 2001, six in ten Americans (59 percent) report taking dietary supplements for these specific reasons: to feel better (72 percent), to help prevent getting sick (67 percent), to help get better when sick (51 percent), to live longer (50 percent), to build strength and muscle (37 percent) and for weight management (12 percent). At the same time, some Americans report taking supplements for a specific health reason (36 percent) or for sports nutrition (24 percent). In addition, a third of adults (33 percent) say that they take supplements on the advice of their doctor.

Besides these specific reasons, the survey also finds that many Americans (55 percent) believe that some supplements offer benefits comparable to those of drugs but with fewer side effects. Not surprisingly then, the survey finds a high degree of consumer satisfaction with the supplements they are taking. In the poll, virtually all the respondents (95 percent) say they are satisfied with the vitamins, minerals, herbs and specialty supplements they use.

But despite this good news, the survey also revealed some areas where more education is needed: when quizzed about some common supplements, many Americans fail the test. According to the poll:

* The majority of consumers (58 percent) view calcium as most important for women after menopause when the mineral is needed throughout life

* Another 41 percent don’t know that taking iron supplements increases the production of red blood cells and is not a way to get more energy

* One-fifth (21 percent) are unaware that it often takes several weeks for a supplement to produce the desired effect in the body

In addition, the Harris poll points to the need for intensified public education about heeding dosage recommendations and interaction warnings. Compared with 91 percent of consumers who say it is necessary to follow dosage guidelines for prescription drugs, the survey found a 20 percent drop (71 percent) in concern when taking dietary supplements. Compounding the problem, the survey found that many consumers are not talking to their doctors about their supplement use. While 92 percent of adults say they consult their doctors about taking prescription drugs, just half report discussing use of over-the-counter drugs (51 percent) and dietary supplements (49 percent) with their physicians.

To change these statistics, the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau will focus immediate public education efforts on explaining how supplements work in the body and providing specific information on dosage levels and potential adverse reactions. "If there is one message that consumers need to hear it is that dietary supplements are very safe when taken as directed. But that means following the information on the label and learning about possible interactions with prescription drugs, " said James LaValle, R.Ph., CCN, ND, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy and Executive Director of the Living Institute.

At the same time, an important role for the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau will be to increase public awareness of the health benefits of vitamins, minerals, herbs and specialty supplements. This will entail communicating that an extensive body of evidence exists supporting the use of many commonly used supplements, such as:

* Folic acid for heart health

* Calcium for bone health

* Soy protein for heart health

* Ginkgo Biloba for mental acuity

Because a number of large research studies on the role of specific supplements are now underway, the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau(TM) will also become a conduit for translating these research findings into practical information that consumers can incorporate into their health care regimens. Some of the new areas of study are:

* The role of Chinese Red Yeast Rice in lowering blood cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease

* The effectiveness of Green Tea for the prevention of tumor blood vessel growth

* The mechanisms of action for St. John’s Wort in alleviating mild depression

* The use of soy isoflavones for hormone replacement and prostate cancer prevention

Explains David Heber, MD, Ph.D., Director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, author of the popular book What Color Is Your Diet? (Regan Books/Harper Collins, 2001) and a member of the bureau’s scientific advisory board, "For the past 50 years, the accepted medical wisdom was that you could get everything you needed for healthful nutrition from the four basic food groups. But science has taught us several things. First, that people need seven servings a day of a diverse group of fruits and vegetables of different colors to get enough disease-preventing phytochemicals." According to Heber, fruits and vegetables provide 25,000 different phytochemicals that reduce the risks of chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and age-related blindness.

Equally important, Heber makes the case for dietary supplements. "Supplements play an important role in educating the public about the benefits of the 150,000 to 200,000 edible plant species on earth, of which mankind consumes only 150 to 200." He added: "In fact, compelling science teaches us that the traditional uses of plants as spices, seasonings and herbs with health benefits for everyday aches and pains has benefited mankind for thousands of years. Thanks to the DSHEA legislation, we can now use the most advanced research methods in the world to explore these benefits and make supplements available to every American in safe and effective forms."

To fulfill the education mandate set out by DSHEA, the campaign will also address how dietary supplements are regulated so consumers will learn about the considerable powers given to the federal government to assure the safety of supplements and the accuracy of their claims and labeling. This will include communicating the facts that:

* The manufacturing and safety regulations for dietary supplements are as stringent as those required for commonly used foods.

* New supplement ingredients can only be used after notifying the Food and Drug Administration in advance and providing the agency with supporting safety data.

* Dietary supplements must provide detailed nutrition labeling not only listing the amount of calories and specific nutrients but also giving facts about the quantity per serving.

* Health-related claims can only be made when there is a documented link between a dietary supplement and a specific health condition. To date, FDA only allows six such health-related claims for: 1) folic acid to reduce the risk of birth defects; 2) calcium to lower the risk of osteoporosis; 3) potassium to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke; 4) psyllium to help prevent coronary heart disease; 5) soy protein to lower the risk of heart disease; and 6) plant sterol/stanol esters and to reduce heart disease.

* There are stringent requirements governing when marketers can make claims describing the supplement’s effect on the body’s structure or function, such as Vitamin E supports a healthy heart. To use these claims, marketers must have scientific data to certify that they can substantiate the statement and the product must bear this label notice: "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease."

* The Federal Trade Commission has strong enforcement powers over dietary supplement claims made in advertising, infomercials, web sites, and direct marketing materials including requiring companies to produce documents, give testimony, and provide answers to written questions when a claim is in dispute.

The Dietary Supplement Information Bureau is a project of the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance(TM), an industry coalition created to promote the responsible use of vitamins, minerals, herbs and specialty supplements. The information developed by the bureau is vetted by a scientific advisory board comprised of: Joseph Betz, Ph.D., American Herbal Products Association and former FDA staffer; Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University; Jerry Cott, Ph.D., Psychopharmacology Consulting Services; David Heber, MD, Ph.D., UCLA Center for Human Nutrition; Sheldon Hendler, MD, Ph.D.; University of California at San Diego; James LaValle, R.Ph., Central State College of Health Sciences; Barbara Levine, RD, Ph.D., The Rockefeller University; Forouz Ertl, DVM, U.S. Pharmacopeia; and Ronald Watson, Ph.D., University of Arizona Medical School.

3. Where Should Pharmacies be Located in the Future?
VALLEY FORGE, Pa., July 30, PRNewswire -- Where should the drug store of the future be located?

Adjacent to doctor’s offices, according to 56 percent of respondents in the second AmeriSource Index, a nationwide, quarterly survey released today by AmeriSource Health Corporation. Shopping malls were a distant second -- with 19 percent of respondents selecting this choice. Trailing behind were the Internet (5 percent), office buildings (3 percent), health clubs and gyms (2 percent), and restaurants (1 percent).

The survey polled 1,022 consumers about a range of topics including the types of special services they would like to see in their local pharmacies, Internet buying, prescription purchasing patterns, and where they received the best service.


Despite the Internet’s initial promise to transform consumer-purchasing habits, most consumers still purchase prescription medications through conventional channels. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they had not purchased medications over the Internet and did not intend to do so in the future. These findings mirror the results from the first AmeriSource Index, conducted in May. In that survey, 64 percent of respondents said they had not purchased prescriptions over the Internet and had no plans to do so in the future.

Expanding Services

What special services did consumers want to see in their local pharmacies? Nutrition information, dietary aids, vitamins and minerals topped the list of choices offered to survey respondents, with 21 percent making this selection. Next were general health education programs (15 percent), followed by diabetes prevention and treatment programs (12 percent), health screenings (11 percent) and diet and weight loss information or programs (10 percent). Cholesterol- reduction information or programs came in sixth place, at 7 percent, followed by pain management programs (6 percent) and immunizations (5 percent). Not surprisingly, cholesterol-reduction programs scored higher among older adults, with 15 percent of 55-to-64 year olds choosing this option and 11 percent of respondents 65 and over selecting it as well.

Consumers were almost evenly split on whether they would be willing to pay a modest service fee for these special services. Forty-nine percent said they would, while 48 percent said they would not. However, a majority of women and respondents ages 18-to-44 said they would be willing to pay for these services. Conversely, older adults (ages 55-to-65+) were more reluctant to pay for additional services.

Herbal Medicines Rank High

When asked what offerings their pharmacies should add or expand, the top choice was literature or diagnostic information on diseases, with 28 percent selecting this option from a list of five choices. Vitamins and herbal medicines, however, also scored high, placing second, with 25 percent of respondents making this choice. Vitamins and herbal medicines were even more popular among 25-to-34 year olds, with 34 percent in this age group selecting this answer. Patient counseling services came in third at 23 percent. Film development and photocopying, and cosmetics trailed, at 8 percent and 3 percent respectively.

Selecting a Pharmacy

Once again, the AmeriSource Index asked consumers what factors led them to select a particular pharmacy to fill most of their prescriptions. In the May 2001 survey, a convenient location was the top choice. This time, respondents were asked to choose the most important factor "other than convenient location." Accepting an insurance card came in first at 22 percent. Next were low prices and personalized service, which nearly tied at 20 percent and 19 percent respectively. Trust came in fourth at 15 percent and once again ranked higher among older adults 55-to-65+ (18 percent), as it did in the May 2001 survey. Trust was also important to 45-to-54 year olds, with 17 percent of respondents in this age group selecting this answer. Sound medical advice and less waiting time competed for last place, at 12 percent and 11 percent respectively.

Who Offers the Best Service?

When asked which type of pharmacy offers the best service, locally owned neighborhood drugs stores edged out chains, 39 percent to 36 percent. Supermarkets were a distant third at 15 percent, with mass merchandisers far behind at 4 percent.

The AmeriSource Index

The AmeriSource Index is a quarterly survey of trends, purchasing behaviors and opinions about pharmacists and their customers. The first survey was conducted in May. Future surveys will be released on a quarterly basis.

About AmeriSource

AmeriSource Health Corporation, with approximately $14 billion in annualized operating revenue, is a leading distributor of pharmaceutical and related healthcare products and services, and the industry’s largest provider of pharmaceuticals to the acute care/health systems market. Headquartered in Valley Forge, PA, the Company serves its base of about 15,000 customers accounts through a national network of more than 22 strategically located distribution facilities.

4. Research Casts Doubt on Medical Marijuana
By Andre Picard

TORONTO, Jul. 6, Globe and Mail -- As Canada moves to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, new research is casting doubt on its usefulness for pain relief.

Cannabinoids (cannabis in pill or injectable form) are no more effective than traditional painkillers, according to a study in today’s edition of the British Medical Journal.

Even when cannabinoids work effectively, such as in controlling the nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy, they have potentially serious side effects that should limit their use, a second group of researchers reported.

But Mary Lynch, director of research at the pain management unit of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, said the research should be interpreted cautiously.

"The bottom line is that there is not enough human research to draw any significant conclusions." She said in an interview. "Over all, I’m very enthusiastic about the future of cannabinoids, but there is a lot of work to be done in improving the drugs."

Dr. Lynch, who heads the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids in Human Therapeutics, praised Canada’s approach to medicinal marijuana, and said it will help make the country a world leader in cannabinoids research.

"This country is taking a humane, reasonable, compassionate approach by approving the use of cannabis in specific conditions while we await the results of further research," she said. "And, at the same time, the government is funding cannabinoids research."

In the newly published study, Fiona Campbell, a pain-management consultant at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, England, said that, at present, there is "insufficient evidence to support the introduction of cannabinoids into widespread clinical practice for pain management."

She said that, at best, a single dose of cannabis is the equivalent of taking 60 milligrams of codeine, "which rates poorly in relative efficacy." Further, the higher the dose, the greater the side effects.

In particular, Dr. Campbell and her team identified cannabis as having a depressant effect on the central nervous system, and adverse psychological effects such as panic attacks and paranoia. A synthetic version of the active ingredient in marijuana, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is used to manufacture cannabinoids.

The research is not original, it is an analysis of published material. The team looked at nine trials in which cannabinoids were used on patients with cancer pain, chronic pain and postoperative pain. Dr. Campbell noted that only 222 patients were involved in all the studies combined, underlining the dearth of human research. None of the research involved patients who smoked cannabis.

The second study, also published in today’s British Medical Journal, looked at the effectiveness of cannabis for controlling chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Martin Tramer of the department of anesthesiology at the H˘pitaux Universitaires in Geneva, analyzed the results of 30 studies.

He found that cannabinoids, in both forms, worked very well for some patients. But the study also noted a number of troublesome side effects, ranging from dizziness to low blood pressure.

Dr. Tramer said that patients treated with cannabinoids were five times more likely to discontinue treatment than those taking more traditional antinausea drugs.

"Potentially serious adverse effects, even when taken short term orally or intramuscularly, are likely to limit the widespread use," he said.

Again, none of the studies involved patients who smoked cannabis.

In Canada, only two cannabinoids have been approved as prescription drugs, both for patients with chemotherapy-related nausea.

In an editorial published in the journal, Dr. Eija Kalso, head of the pain clinic at Helsinki University Hospital, said that, at this time, cannabinoids "clearly lose the battle in both efficacy and safety with the competitors."

But he, too, highlighted the potential of cannabinoids, and said much more research needs to be done on humans. Researchers are excited about the drugs because cannabinoids exist naturally in the body and they have shown dramatic results in animals -- including arresting tumour growth and controlling chronic pain.

This week, the federal government released the regulations related to medicinal use of marijuana. They require, among other things, that users obtain a photo identification and that doctors approve an application for use of cannabis.

The Canadian Medical Association objects strongly to the new legislation, saying that marijuana has not been subjected to the rigorous premarket testing that other drugs must undergo.

Hugh Scully, past president of the CMA, said there is a lack of comprehensive and credible scientific evidence on the benefits, and risks, of medicinal marijuana.

"We acknowledge the unique requirements of those individuals suffering from a terminal illness or chronic disease for which conventional therapies have not been effective," Dr. Scully said. "However, the CMA believes that it is premature for Health Canada to expand broadly the medicinal use of marijuana before there is adequate scientific support."

When the U.S. Institute of Medicine studied the pros and cons of medical marijuana use in 1999, it concluded that the "future of cannabinoid drugs lies not in smoked marijuana, but in chemically defined drugs."

Supporters of medical marijuana dismissed those arguments, noting that there is much anecdotal evidence about the benefits of the drug and stressing that the regulations allow marijuana to be used only by people who are expected to die

5. Sugar Cane Extracts Can Lower LDL Cholesterol, Report Cuban Researchers
LARCHMONT, N.Y., July 20, BW HealthWire -- Potent LDL cholesterol-lowering activity and other anti-inflammatory, antiviral and neuroprotective properties have been shown in animal studies and human clinical trials of a class of phytochemicals made up of very long-chain aliphatic alcohols and their metabolites, which are extracted from sugar cane wax.

These results are reported in a series of five papers by Cuban scientists in the Summer 2001 issue (Volume 4, Number 2) of Journal of Medicinal Food, a multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (

"The very long-chain aliphatic alcohols represent a class of phytochemicals with some rather remarkable therapeutic as well as preventive potential," said Journal Editor Sheldon S. Hendler, Ph.D., M.D., commenting on the findings of Cuban researchers. "Policosanol, a mixture of very long-chain aliphatic alcohols derived from sugar cane wax and other plant sources, has shown potent LDL cholesterol-lowering activity in animal studies and in human clinical trials. The safety profile of these substances appears excellent. These alcohols have also demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and neuroprotective activities, among others."

The five papers are "A Six-Month Study on the Toxicity of High Doses of Policosanol Orally Administered to Sprague-Dawley Rats," "Pharmacological Interaction Between Policosanol and Nitroprusside in Rats," "Effects of D-002 on Lipid Peroxidation in Older Subjects," "Antioxidant Effect of D-002 on Gastric Mucosa of Rats with Experimentally Induced Injury," and "In Vivo Genotoxic Evaluation of D-003, a Mixture of Very Long-Chain Aliphatic Acids." To view Dr. Hendler’s introductory editorial and all five papers free online, plus a sample issue of the journal, visit

"Science is alive and well in Cuba, with about 230 research centers devoted to R&D efforts in biology, chemistry, immunology, medicinal chemistry, biotechnology, and veterinary medicine," said Dr. Hendler. "Scientists at the Carlos J. Finlay Institute have developed what many consider the world’s most advanced vaccine against meningococcus meningitis type B, which may be marketed in the U.S. one day. Other vaccines being developed in Cuba include a hepatitis C vaccine and an AIDS vaccine." An introductory editorial by Dr. Hendler discusses the current state of scientific research in Cuba from an economic and historical perspective.

Journal of Medicinal Food provides the latest scientific research on the bioactives of functional and medical foods, nutraceuticals, herbal substances, and other natural products. The quarterly journal discusses methods for extracting and analyzing these components, the use of biomarkers to assay their biological roles, and the development of bioactives for use in the marketplace, covering advances from India, China, Japan, Latin America, the U.S., and other countries. It is indexed in EMBASE/Excerpta Medica.

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in new and promising areas of science and biomedical research.

6. Doctors Issue Herb Guideline Respectfully
By Bob Condor

CHICAGO, July 20, Chicago Tribune -- The gap between mainstream medical care and natural medicine continues to close, if ever so gradually. This month, three University of Chicago physicians published a new study about herbs and surgery in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Many of our patients are taking herbs," said Dr. Jonathan Moss, a critical-care and anesthesia specialist at the University of Chicago. "We as doctors need to know something about those herbal medications."

Research indicates about a third of all surgical patients take one or more herbal remedies, and 50 percent of those folks are not telling their physicians about it.

"We can do better as physicians to ask about herbal medicines before surgery," Moss said. "People generally don’t mention herbal use for three reasons. One is they don’t consider herbs to be medicines. Two is they might be embarrassed or self-conscious about relying on herbs for health. Three is some patients think doctors will dismiss the use of herbs."

Not exactly the foundation for doctor-patient communication. Plus, if the patient does indeed tell his or her doctor about herbs, there is a good chance the physician doesn’t know what to make of that information.

The Journal of the American Medical Association takes a step in the right direction for improving discussion between natural-health-minded patients and surgeons and anesthesiologists. The report is aimed at professionals -- "We want to make sure our colleagues know the issue of how herbs affect surgery outcomes," Moss said -- but the information is clarifying for anyone.

"While most of these substances appear to be safe for healthy people, for surgical patients they can affect sedation, pain control, bleeding, heart function, metabolism, immunity and recovery in ways we are just beginning to understand," said Dr. Chun-Su Yuan, a physician and researcher at the Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research at the University of Chicago. He co-authored the study with Moss and University of Chicago anesthesiologist Michael K. Ang-Lee.

The researchers studied eight common herbs that represent about half of the single-herb preparations used by Americans each year. The list includes echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St. John’s wort and valerian.

Because there are no randomized, controlled studies about herbal use in the presurgery period (or post-surgery for that matter), the University of Chicago doctors scoured research literature for any relevant articles or case studies.

"We found some case studies buried in relatively obscure or highly specialized medical journals," Moss said.

Yuan was hard at work in his Tang Institute lab to determine the biological effect of the eight herbs, including how the plant medicines might shorten or prolong anesthesia. He learned firsthand what other experts have warned: Herbal supplements, not tightly regulated by the federal government, can vary widely in potency and purity, from brand to brand and even within lots of the same product. The authors nonetheless developed recommendations for discontinuation of the herbs before surgery. The result may surprise patients and doctors alike, which is precisely the point. We all need to know more about herbs.

For instance, echinacea is used by millions of Americans for the common cold. Yet the journal’s study regards it as the herb surgical patients need to discontinue as far in advance as possible.

Although echinacea is known for boosting immunity, it can impair wound healing and block immune-suppressing drugs.

Ephedra, also known as ma huang, is considered a potentially dangerous drug because it can increase heart rate and blood pressure. But in this study it was grouped with kava as herbs that should be discontinued at least 24 hours before surgery.

Gingko was recommended to be stopped at least 36 hours before an operation to avoid risk of bleeding, while use of St. John’s wort should be halted at least five days before surgery because it can interfere with anti-clotting and steroid-based drugs among others. Garlic (increases risk of bleeding) and ginseng (lowers blood sugar) were pegged at stoppage one week before surgery.

Valerian, which is prescribed as a sleep remedy by European doctors, provides an interesting twist. The authors recommended stopping use before surgery but only if the patient can taper the dose in the several weeks before surgery. Otherwise, valerian should be continued to avoid any withdrawal symptoms.

"As we learn more, we can better tailor recommendations for individual patients," Ang-Lee said. "We know patients use herbs. We all need to know what to expect."

7. Mixing Herbs, Surgery Can be Risky
CHICAGO, July 17, HealthScout -- Herbal supplements and surgery don’t mix, say researchers who have devised new recommendations for people who use some popular products and are about to go under the knife.

The researchers found that the most frequently used herbal remedies, including echinacea, St. John’s wort, ginseng, kava, gingko and garlic, can be the most deadly if taken before surgery.

"Our intent is not to scare people with our findings, but to help them use herbal remedies more safely," says Dr. Jonathan Moss, a professor of anesthesia at the University of Chicago and co-author of a new study reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Our goal is to encourage patients to be honest with their doctors about what they are taking, and to make certain that they stop the drugs early enough before surgery takes place," Dr. Moss says.

"We published a paper on this subject as well, and our findings were similar," says Dr. Mehmet Oz, assistant professor of cardiac surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York and co-founder of the hospital’s complementary medicine program. "Herbs are medicines, and some can have a profound effect when mixed with other medications, particularly those used before, during and after surgery."

Organizations such as the American Society of Anesthesiologists have previously suggested that patients stop all herbal remedies at least two weeks prior to surgery.

But Dr. Moss says the need for surgery often can arise sooner than that. "This is particularly true of any emergency procedures, or even dental surgery," he says.

Even when surgery is scheduled in advance, Dr. Moss says patients often don’t get their pre-op exam or meet with an anesthesiologist until a day or two before the operation, and that can leave a dangerous gap in communication about supplement use.

"By the time the anesthesiologist comes into the picture, there may not be sufficient time for the herb to clear from the body prior to surgery," says Dr. Moss.

And even when doctors do ask patients about herbal use, many patients are reluctant to tell the truth, fearing the physician won’t approve, says Dr. Oz.

"In our study we found that patients often believed the doctor didn’t know anything about herbs, so they didn’t bring it up," says Dr. Oz. "Or they were afraid they would insult the doctor by admitting they were self-treating, so they didn’t talk about it."

The latest study looked at eight popular herbal remedies, including the biology of the compounds and a review of all studies, case reports and any research papers that addressed safety and pharmacological effects.

Although the recommendations are based on analytical studies, the researchers say no hard and fast rules apply in the sometimes chancy world of herbal supplements.

"There is no standard dosage that consumers can rely on. Every crop is different, every product is different, so it’s very difficult sometimes to know the exact way an herb is going to affect someone having surgery," says lead study author Dr. Chun-Su Yuan, assistant professor of anesthesiology and associate director of the Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research at the University of Chicago.

That’s why the researchers say you should be honest with your doctor about what you are taking.

When to Stop Taking Herbal Supplements

Herb Relevant effects Surgery concerns Recommendations
Echinacea Boost immunity Allergic reactions, impairs immune suppressive drugs, can cause immune suppression when taken long-term, could impair wound healing Discontinue as far in advance as possible, especially for transplant patients or those with liver dysfunction
Ephedra (ma huang) Increases heart rate, increases blood pressure Risk of heart attack, arrhythmia, stroke, interaction with other drugs, kidney stones Discontinue at least 24 hours before surgery
Garlic (ajo) Prevents clotting Risk of bleeding, especially when combined with other drugs that inhibit clotting. Discontinue at least seven days before surgery
Ginkgo (duck foot, maidenhair, silver apricot) Prevents clotting Risk of bleeding, especially when combined with other drugs that inhibit clotting Discontinue at least 36 hours before surgery
Ginseng Lowers blood glucose, inhibits clotting Lowers blood-sugar levels. Increases risk of bleeding Interferes with warfarin (an anti- clotting drug.) Discontinue at least seven days before surgery.
Kava (kawa, awa, intoxicating pepper) Sedates, decreases anxiety May increase sedative effects of anesthesia Risks of addiction, tolerance and withdrawal unknown. Discontinue at least 24 hours before surgery.
St. John’s wort (amber, goatweed, Hypericum, klamatheweed) Inhibits re-uptake of neuro-transmitters (similar to Prozac) Alters metabolisms of other drugs such as cyclosporin (for transplant patients), warfarin, steroids, protease inhibitors (for HIV). May interfere with many other drugs Discontinue at least five days before surgery.
Valerian Sedates Could increase effects of sedatives. Long-term use could increase the amount of anesthesia needed. Withdrawal symptoms resemble Valium addiction If possible, taper dose weeks before surgery. If not, continue use until surgery. Treat withdrawal symptoms with benzodiazepines.
[Source: University of Chicago Medical Center]

8. California Company Recalls Herbal Products Containing Aristolochic Acid
CLAYTON, Calif., July 31, FDA -- Pacific BioLogic Co. is recalling capsules containing the herb Akebia Trifoliata Caulis (Mu Tong) and the herb Asarum Sieboldii Herba cum Radix (Xi Xin); as these herbs may present a serious health hazard to consumers. These herbs contain aristolochic acid. Aristolochic acid is a potent carcinogen and nephrotoxin found in certain plants and botanicals. This chemical can cause serious kidney damage and the use of products that contain aristolochic acid has been associated with several occurrences of kidney failure. The use of aristolochic acid containing products has been linked to increased risk of kidney cancer in people who have consumed it.

The herb Akebia Trifoliata Caulis (Mu Tong) and the herb Asarum Sieboldii Herba cum Radix (Xi Xin) were part of the formula for products listed below and distributed nationwide to medical doctors, naturopathic physicians, licensed acupuncturists, and herbal practitioners. The products were labeled under the following brands and includes all lots and production codes:

Herbal Masters Arpanex B

Herbal Masters Cys

Herbal Masters Koms A

Blanace & Harmony Artiflex B

Balance & Harmony Gentiana Combination

Balance & Harmony Allerhay

Pacific Biologic Orthoflex

These herbs were sold in white plastic bottles containing capsules of herb powder with labels identifying the herb as Akebia Trifoliata Caulis (Mu Tong) and the herb Asarum Sieboldii Herba cum Radix (Xi Xin).

No illness has been reported to date.

The recall was the result of a notice from the US Food and Drug Administration that aristolochic acid has been classified as a Class 1 toxic substance. The company has ceased the production and distribution of all forms of these herbs.

Consumers who have purchased or been prescribed these herbs should immediately discontinue their use and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (925) 673-2967.

9. FDA Advises Dietary Supplement Manufacturers to Drop Comfrey Products
WASHINGTON, July 6, FDA -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing this letter to communicate to you our concern about the marketing of dietary supplements that contain the herbal ingredient comfrey (Symphytum officionale (common comfrey), S. asperum (prickly comfrey), and S. x uplandicum (Russian comfrey). These plants are a source of pyrrolizidine alkaloids that present a serious health hazard to consumers when they are ingested. FDA asks that you share this information with your members.

The use of comfrey in dietary supplements is a serious concern to FDA. These plants contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, substances which are firmly established to be hepatotoxins in animals. Reports in the scientific literature clearly associate oral exposure of comfrey and pyrrolizidine alkaloids with the occurrence of veno-occlusive disease (VOD) in animals. Moreover, outbreaks of hepatic VOD have been reported in other countries over the years and the toxicity of these substances in humans is generally accepted. The use of products containing comfrey has also been implicated in serious adverse incidents over the years in the United States and elsewhere. However, while information is generally lacking to establish a cause-effect relationship between comfrey ingestion and observed adverse effects humans, the adverse effects that have been seen are entirely consistent with the known effects of comfrey ingestion that have been described in the scientific literature. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are present in comfrey, in addition to being potent hepatotoxins, have also been shown to be toxic to other tissues as well. There is also evidence that implicates these substances as carcinogens. Taken together, the clear evidence of an association between oral exposure to pyrrolizidine alkaloids and serious adverse health effects and the lack of any valid scientific data that would enable the agency to determine whether there is an exposure, if any, that would present no harm to consumers, indicates that this substance should not be used as an ingredient in dietary supplements.

Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), as amended by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the manufacturer bears the primary responsibility for ensuring that its dietary supplement products are safe. FDA believes that the available scientific information is sufficient to firmly establish that dietary supplements that contain comfrey or any other source of pyrrolizidine alkaloids are adulterated under the Act. The agency strongly recommends that firms marketing a product containing comfrey or another source of pyrrolizidine alkaloids remove the product from the market and alert its customers to immediately stop using the product. The agency advises that it is prepared to use its authority and resources to remove products from the market that appear to violate the Act.

FDA also believes that manufacturers need to take adequate steps to identify and report adverse events, especially adverse events that may include liver disorders, associated with any product that contains an ingredient that may contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids. FDA recommends that firms promptly notify FDA’s MEDWATCH program of reports of adverse events associated with the use of products containing any source of pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

All firms currently marketing products containing comfrey should also be aware of the fact that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also taken action against unsafe products containing comfrey. The Commission recently announced an enforcement action it has brought against a firm for marketing comfrey-containing products. The Commission is challenging the safety and health benefit claims for a number of comfrey products sold by the firm. A stipulated preliminary injunction agreed to by the parties in the case prohibits the marketing of any comfrey-containing product intended for internal use or use on open wounds and requires a warning on comfrey products marketed for external uses. Information about the action is available through the FTC’s web site at

FDA is available and prepared to assist the industry on these matters. Firms are encouraged to contact FDA if they have any questions or concerns about this important public health issue. Inquiries should be directed to Dr. Robert Moore in the Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements (202-205-4605; email

[Issued by: Christine J. Lewis, Ph.D. Director, Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements, FDA]

10. U.S. Government Agencies Crack Down On Online Comfrey Sales
WASHINGTON, July 9, Newsbytes -- By David McGuire, Newsbytes. In its continuing effort to crack down on online snake-oil salesmen, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced that it has taken action against a company selling the herbal supplement "comfrey" as a purported remedy for a slew of ailments.

Working in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the FTC filed an action against Christopher Enterprises Inc., a seller and maker of herbal products containing comfrey. Through its Web site,, the company recommended and sold comfrey for internal and external uses, despite health dangers, according to an FTC statement.

"The Internet is a powerful tool for consumers searching for health information," Howard Beales, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a release. "Unfortunately, unscrupulous marketers also use it to peddle products with unproven and false claims."

By telling consumers that products containing comfrey could be used to treat everything from colds to spinal cancer, may have put consumers unnecessarily at risk, Beales said.

In addition to those concerns, the FDA warned today that comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids and could cause potentially serious liver problems if taken internally.

But Christopher Enterprises Vice President of Sales Doug Olsen said today that his company’s founder had sold products containing comfrey for decades and never had any health complaints.

"Comfrey has been used for thousands of years to aid in the healing of bones and tissues," Olsen said today.

Still, Christopher Enterprises has stopped selling comfrey for internal use and has cooperated with the FTC by agreeing to place a label on its comfrey ointments warning consumers not to use the product internally, Olsen said.

11. California Botanicals Firm Drops All Comfrey Products
By Denny Walsh

FAIR OAKS, Calif., Jul. 31, The Sacramento Bee -- Had a dose of comfrey lately? Either way, don’t look to Western Botanicals in Fair Oaks for your next one.

The centuries-old herb grows wild in the Sacramento area and is easily obtainable, at no cost at Sacramento’s Ron Mandella Community Garden, for example.

It is often sold as a topical salve for bruises, wounds, muscle aches, sprains and broken bones, and in pills or teas for intestinal problems, cough and stomach ulcers and as a general tonic.

But Western Botanicals, which sold comfrey leaf and root for prices ranging from $6.05 to $8.10 per ounce, no longer handles it in bulk or any product containing comfrey extract, thanks to a legal attack by the Federal Trade Commission.

The herb is "not safe when taken internally, whether as oral preparations or applied to open wounds," according to an FTC lawsuit filed in Sacramento federal court against Western Botanicals and its two owners. It contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, chemicals "which have been linked to serious illness, occasionally leading to death," the suit alleges.

Many herbalists, however, contend there is no body of scientific data to support the government’s claims.

On July 6, a week before the FTC announced a settlement with Western Botanicals, the Food and Drug Administration asked makers of dietary supplements containing comfrey to pull their products off the market because of the danger of liver damage.

In addition to being toxic to the liver, "there is also evidence that implicates (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) as carcinogens," the FDA said.

A Sacramento-area grower and user of comfrey, who asked not to be identified because "I don’t want to draw attention to myself," defended the herb as "good for almost anything that ails you."

"It’s harvested and put in food all over the place," she said. "It’s a complete protein, incredibly nutritious. It really does work. It heals open wounds so fast."

What happened to Western Botanicals is "kinda silly," she said, maintaining that the government’s evidence is "pretty shaky."

The FTC alleged the company made unfounded claims that its products for both external and internal uses were beneficial in the treatment of a variety of diseases and health conditions, and that they were safe.

Western Botanicals agreed, in a stipulated permanent injunction filed last week, to stop marketing comfrey products for internal uses or application to open wounds and to include a warning on products marketed for external uses. It also agreed to stop making the challenged claims.

In fact, the company has quit selling all comfrey products, according to Randy Giboney, its president.

"Applied externally, it would be absorbed into the bloodstream, so I don’t see the distinction," he said Monday in an interview.

Giboney and Kyle Christensen, a Citrus Heights chiropractor, own the business. Both were named as defendants, along with Western Botanicals, in the FTC suit.

The settlement includes a civil monetary judgment of $50,800 against the firm, but it was suspended. Had it been enforced, the company would have been forced to close its doors, Giboney said. "We showed (the FTC) our financial statements and they could see there was nothing to take."

The $50,800 represents the firm’s sales of comfrey products over the last three years, he said. Total sales during that same period were approximately $1.3 million, he added.

While Western Botanicals markets nationwide, the 5-year-old company is small compared to other companies selling herbs and herbal products, Giboney said. Its profit margin is narrow because it sells primarily wholesale to health-care practitioners and health food distributors, he said.

Thomas Carter, an attorney in the FTC’s regional office in Dallas, said in an interview Monday that the agency targeted Western Botanicals and another company with suits because they are "the only two we could find who were manufacturing comfrey products for internal use."

Giboney hotly disputes that.

"I know of other companies that are making and marketing similar products. We made the mistake of using some medical terminology in our advertising. We just didn’t play the shell game good enough. We are being used as scapegoats to send a message.

"We are honest, taxpaying, flag-waving people who, up to now, thought we had a lot more freedoms than we really have. I walk around with chest pains because they made me feel like a criminal."

The other FTC suit is aimed at Christopher Enterprises, based in Springville, Utah, and its two top officers. That action has not been settled because the two sides are still haggling over whether there should be a monetary judgment.

However, the defendants have agreed to a preliminary injunction halting their marketing of comfrey products for internal uses or on open wounds. They have further agreed to include a warning on comfrey products for external uses and to stop making advertising claims similar to those alleged in the Western Botanicals suit.

12. FDA Launches New Dietary Supplement Electronic Newsletter
WASHINGTON, July 20, FDA -- The Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements, located in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA, wishes to announce its new electronic newsletter, "FDA-DSFL" (Dietary Supplement/Food Labeling Electronic Newsletter), which will publish on a quarterly basis, or as needed. The goal is to provide interested parties with access to key information and updates about regulatory actions related to food labeling, nutrition, and dietary supplements, as well as educational materials and important announcements.

We expect to publish the first edition of this newsletter in late July or early August and include current issues and actions. If you are interested in subscribing to the newsletter FDA-DSFL, you will need to access the Electronic Information Networks on the Internet and follow the instructions at

13. NSF International Announces Draft Standard for Dietary Supplements
ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 18, PRNewswire -- NSF International ( ), The Public Health and Safety Company(TM), announces the release of NSF Draft Standard 173-Dietary Supplements for trial use. NSF is the world leader in standards development, product certification and education services for public health and safety issues. NSF Draft Standard 173-Dietary Supplements (NSF-173) provides methodology and evaluation criteria to ensure that a dietary supplement product contains the identity and quantity of dietary ingredients declared on the product label. It also ensures that the product does not contain levels of specific contaminants that may pose a health risk. NSF-173 includes requirements for conformance to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) as submitted by industry to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA will issue a final version of GMPs for dietary supplements that will be adopted into the Draft Standard at that time.

NSF-173 was developed with participation from the dietary supplements industry, public health regulators and distributors of dietary supplements. Participation and technical guidance was provided by representatives of the American Herbal Products Association, the American Pharmaceutical Association, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the National Institutes of Health and the National Nutritional Foods Association. NSF-173 is expected to be adopted as a NSF American National Standard within a year.

NSF is now providing quotations on the cost of program participation. The NSF-173 Certification Program is available to all manufacturers of dietary supplements and related ingredients and encompasses all vitamin, mineral and botanical products. Certification to NSF-173 serves as a means of assuring consumers, retailers, health care practitioners and regulators that products carrying the NSF Mark have been independently evaluated and meet the requirements of the Standard.

NSF International, a not-for-profit organization, is dedicated to improving public health, safety and protection of the environment.

14. South African Minister Brews AIDS Medicine
JOHANNESBURG, July 22, Reuters -- A South African government minister is making a secret herbal medicine out of peach leaves to help treat AIDS, the Sunday Times reported.

It said the medicine was mixed and brewed in a hut on Public Works Minister Stella Sigcau’s property in the poor Eastern Cape province and had already been dispensed to at least one AIDS sufferer.

The newspaper said Sigcau had confirmed she was making AIDS medicine, but said it was still "in its very early stages" and added that she wanted to have it patented.

"I don’t want the whole world to know the ingredients. That’s why I am keeping it a secret. I believe traditional medicine may have a role to play in combating viral diseases and should be assessed," the minister was quoted as saying.

South Africa has more people living with HIV-AIDS than any other country. One in nine, or 4.7 million, South Africans are infected, and only a minority have access to key AIDS drugs, including life-prolonging anti-retrovirals.

South Africa’s approach to AIDS has been sharply criticised after President Thabo Mbeki publicly questioned whether HIV caused AIDS.

15. South American Tree for Digestive Health
PITTSBURGH, July 26, PRNewswire -- Digestive health is something no one wants to talk about but tens of millions of Americans seek help for it.

According to Roberta Lee, MD, an internist and specialist in botanical medicine at the Continuum Center for Health & Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, a natural option for digestive health has been developed, and from an entirely natural source. Croton lechleri, made from tree sap, is a natural botanical derived from the South American rainforest. For centuries, indigenous populations have used Croton lechleri to help with upset stomachs and for digestive health. Recently, Croton lechleri has been studied in controlled clinical trials and Dr. Lee, who has had extensive clinical experience with the supplement, says the results surpassed even her expectations.

In a recently presented study, researchers from the University of Texas at Houston assessed the safety and efficacy of Croton lechleri. This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study evaluated 169 people with acute complaints.

Patients received 250 mg of Croton lechleri or placebo four times daily for two days. Virtually all patients who received the active product improved dramatically within hours, and more than 90 percent experienced partial or complete benefits within 24 hours.

"In addition, Croton lechleri works directly at the tissues," said Dr. Lee. In the clinical studies, patients rated Croton lechleri higher than other products on satisfaction scales.

Croton lechleri has just been introduced in the United States by General Nutrition Centers (GNC) in a new product called Bowel Support(TM) to promote digestive health. With the availability of Bowel Support, GNC enhances its brand of Preventive Nutrition(R) products, a portfolio of scientifically based supplements, minerals, and herbs. Supported by a multi-million dollar research commitment, these products will address health issues -- from eye, bone, and prostate health to liver function -- in standardized formulations.

General Nutrition Companies, Inc. (GNC), based in Pittsburgh, PA, is the largest nationwide specialty retailer of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, sports nutrition as well as many personal care and related products. GNC operates more than 4,500 retail outlets throughout the United States and 26 foreign markets including Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. GNC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Numico N.V., a worldwide market leader in specialized nutrition that includes infant and clinical nutrition and nutritional supplements. Headquartered in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, Royal Numico’s family of companies includes Boca Raton, Fla.-based Rexall Sundown, Inc., a major supplier of vitamins, herbal and nutritional supplements to the food, drug and mass market, sports nutrition leaders MET-Rx and Worldwide Sport Nutrition, and Unicity Network, the company’s multi-level marketing operation which encompasses the former Enrich International and Rexall Showcase International network marketing organizations.

16. Montserrat Jungle Yields Ethnobotanical Oddities and Treasures
By Marleen Troutt

CARBONDALE, Ill., Jul. 31, Daily Egyptian -- Slicing through the jungle on the island of Montserrat while doing research for his book in the 1970s, David Eric Brussell noticed a mahogany coffin hanging from a cashew tree, enveloped in banana palms.

The banana field on Chance Peak was not supposed to be there in order to preserve the rain forest. Brussell turned to his local informant, who like many of Brussell’s living texts, provided not only plant histories handed down through generations, but voodoo folklore of the area with African, Ameri-Indian and European roots.

"Well, it means we should leave," the informant told Brussell. "Stay out of the garden."

"It was a pretty good international symbol," Brussell said. "We didn’t pick any bananas either."

Brussel’s book, "Potions, Poisons, and Panaceas: An Ethnobotanical Study of Montserrat," provides pictures and descriptions of plants on Montserrat and what they are used for, intertwining local legend with modern uses and identification.

Though the book was published in 1997, Brussell has served as an adjunct assistant professor of plant biology at the Southern Illinois University campus in Niigata, Japan, for the last six years. He finally made it back to his home base, Carbondale, to release it publicly at a book signing this weekend at Barnes & Noble.

The cover of the book shows lush forests of vibrant green that have since been eaten by a 1997 volcanic eruption.

"Recent eruptions in Montserrat made the data exceptionally noteworthy," said Brussell, comfortably inhaling mothball fumes in the SIUC Herbarium where he stores plant samples in a metal filing cabinet. "Now the physical landscape, the plant and animal life and the cultural landscape is different. So this is sort of like Pompeii in comparison."

The volcanic blast wiped out more than precious vegetation; it also robbed the Caribbean island of many of Brussell’s informants such as local farmers, fisherman, gardeners, bush doctors, midwives, woodsmen and voodoo practitioners.

"When one old person passes away, they have lots of ethnobotanical information at their disposal. It’s something they’re born with and pass down through the ages," Brussell said. "It’s like when a library burns down, but it’s worse because they have unique information, some of which nobody has."

Luckily for ethnobotany and Montserrat tourists, part of this drowned information has been bound by the covers of Brussell’s book.

J. P. Theurillat, of the Conservative Botanique in Geneva, Switzerland, called the book important for ethnobotanical comparison in several parts of the world. The rain forest of Montserrat is home to plants like Jacob’s Ladder. Although found in Illinois, the plant is used as a poison on Montserrat. Mistletoe is seeped into tea as an age-old birth control measure. Maiden Apple, used in voodoo to cure a fever, is currently being researched as a therapeutic agent in AIDS treatment and many forms of cancer.

"Many of the plants studied come from diverse areas outside the Caribbean region," Theurillat noted in the preface. "Some originate from the temperate regions of the Old and New World. This aspect is especially significant for the more than 30 economically important species that are widely cultivated."

Colleague Aristotel Pappelis was impressed with the book and said Brussell deserved credit for his work.

"It’s not everyday you meet a botanist like him," said Pappelis, an SIUC professor of plant biology. "It’s truly rare to find a young person who travels around the world and enjoys discovering plants."

Brussell, a former Fulbright Scholar who earned his doctorate at SIUC in plant biology, travels the globe investigating plants and their local and scientific uses.

Though Brussell’s current ethnobotanical studies keep him busy in Japan, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Polynesia and the Swiss Alps, the Caribbean still beckons him with its voodoo legends and informants turned friends.

"Not many have seen the top of a mountain in a rain forest. Not many climb the mountain," Brussell said. "Some day I plan to go back."

17. East China Province Promotes Medicine Industry
HANGZHOU, Jul. 29, Xinhua -- East China’s Zhejiang Province is to establish a park specializing in medicine research and production in the economic development zone of Hangzhou, capital of the province.

About 60 pharmaceutical plants and research institutes will enter the park, which is expected to set up a system of production and research within five years, said an official with the project.

Sources said that by 2005 the park’s industrial output value will hit 5 billion yuan (600 million U.S. dollars).

The business here will mainly cover refining natural medicinal herbs, development of genetic medicines, and production of medical appliances.

According to local analysts, the medicine industry is expected to grow steadily as demand for medical care remains one of the major forces behind economic growth.

However, pharmaceutical enterprises should see in advance the challenges from overseas competition when China enters the World Trade Organization.

Experts also believe that China ought to strengthen its ability to develop new medicines and strive to upgrade the technical quality of medical commodities to increase competitiveness on international markets.

18. Major U.S. Horticultural Company Files for Bankruptcy
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., July 2, Business Wire -- Foster & Gallagher, Inc. (F&G), a premier direct marketer of horticulture and gift products, today announced that it and 21 of its domestic subsidiaries have filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

The Company said that it and its subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 in order to wind-down their businesses and sell all or substantially all of their assets.

The Company said that its management team, board of directors and bank lenders explored a number of alternatives, including a financial restructuring, operational reorganization of its core businesses and a sale of strategic assets. The Company said that it has been determined, however, that a sale of assets and an orderly wind-down of the businesses offered the best possibility of maximizing the creditors’ recoveries.

F&G said that as a result of its discussions with its lenders, it was determined that, effective immediately, its Spring Hill Group, Michigan Bulb Group, Gurney’s Group and all of their subsidiaries will be closed.

The Company said that its management team and board of directors are in the process of seeking potential purchasers for the orderly sale of some of Foster & Gallagher’s remaining operations under the supervision of the Bankruptcy Court, including the Gift Group. As part of the Chapter 11 proceeding, F&G has arranged for short-term financing from certain of its existing lenders, which helps ensure that F&G will be able to effectuate an orderly wind-down of its remaining operations.

In the past two years, F&G has taken steps to address its financial and operational challenges, such as divesting non-core businesses and assets, consolidating operations and reducing management and employee headcount while initiating new marketing strategies. However, F&G said that its significant financial and operational challenges, coupled with a difficult marketplace prompted the conclusion that a traditional restructuring would not sufficiently address F&G’s obligations.

19. Illinois Lavender Farm Becomes Popular
By Steve Tarter

MACKINAW, Ill., Jul. 17, Peoria Journal Star -- Lavender is one of those mystical plants that takes people to other places.

Whether it’s an image of the English countryside or the French variety grown in Provence, the aromatic herb is associated with a variety of exotic locales.

Now you can include the site of the only known lavender farm in Illinois, the Mackinaw farm of Ruth and Tom Hertzfeldt.

Their 10-acre farm isn’t all lavender, of course. There’s six acres of corn tended by a neighbor along with undeveloped acreage that includes wildflowers and a creek.

But plenty of lavender grows on the grounds and a scan of the swaying field of purple-blue spikes declare it now in season.

"When we first looked into it three years ago, everybody said you can’t grow lavender in Illinois," said Ruth Hertzfeldt. But describing herself as "a bullheaded Dutchman," she decided to give it a shot.

"We looked into it and found that there’s a lavender farm in Massachusetts. Washington state grows much of the lavender raised in this country. Snow’s a good insulating blanket," she said.

The couple raised three children in Peoria before deciding to move to the country in 1998. They planted their first lavender plants in May, 1999.

Now in its second year of operation, the Lavender Creek Farm operation offers visitors the chance to pick up a basket and clip their own lavender.

Three separate patches are available with about 1,500 lavender plants in varying stages of growth on the premises, said Hertzfeldt.

Leading a group of visitors from a Morton bridge club to her farm last week, Hertzfeldt stood in the main lavender patch to demonstrate the fine art of clipping the bushy clumps that produce the sweet-smelling herb.

She handed a bouquet of freshly-cut lavender to Morton resident Jackie Patton, the woman whose birthday the bridge group was celebrating with their visit.

"Don’t worry about the bees; they won’t bother you. They love the lavender," said Hertzfeldt.

Not only does she grow it but she’s busy mixing lavender into everything from skin lotion to soap, from candles to fudge, which she sells to the public.

The main house doubles as a gift shop, alive with the soothing aroma of lavender potpourri, that displays her wares.

Asked by a young visitor about the location of her factory for all these lavender products, Hertzfeldt pointed to her kitchen.

"I use the microwave, blender and stove. It’s just like baking -- you do something and put it away. Then you do a little more later," she said.

Hertzfeldt believes that while lavender may not be good for all that ails you, it comes pretty close.

"I can only tell people what it does for me. Lavender provides a relaxing, calming feeling," said Hertzfeldt, who cites the substance as good for repelling bugs, curing headaches and inducing sleep.

Lavender has been around more then 2,000 years, dating to the ancient Romans and Egyptians who found it useful in embalming as well as for bath oil, she said.

Hertzfeldt thinks the herb’s popularity has been passed over in recent years.

"With (the popularity of) Revlon and others, I think lavender got set aside for a generation or two. But now we’re getting back to basics," she said.

"We found out there was a lavender audience. Now we get busloads in here," said Hertzfeld of visitors to the farm.

Taking pride in her efforts to grow the lavender organically, Hertzfeldt looks forward to expanding in the near future. She and her husband plan to bridge the little creek on the property and expand the lavender fields.

For now, Hertzfeldt enjoys her role as lavender expert.

"What’s the life of the fragrance?" asked Mayra Thompson of Morton.

"Lavender’s like wine," answers Hertzfeldt. "The older, the better," she said.

20. King of Herbs: Basil Reigns Supreme on Summer Tables
By Jan Uebelherr

MILWAUKEE, Wis., July 30, Milkaukee Journal Sentinel -- You never forget your first pesto.

Mine was more than 20 years ago. I was young, looking for excitement, eager for adventure. And there was pesto -- a stranger offering all of this. We met at a dinner party. I was just 19.

Someone passed the pesto, but it was more flavor than I bargained for. I expected sauce -- not a deep green mass of mashed leaves with a bold attitude.

It was all too much, and so I didn’t see pesto, or any form of basil, for a long time.

But over the years I’ve changed my thinking, and we’re back together. We’ve both grown a little. Our tastes have changed.

I’ve grown accustomed to pesto and the lovely plant that makes it possible: basil, sweet basil. And apparently I’m not alone.

The Herb Growing and Marketing Network, a trade association for the herb growing industry, calls basil one of the top herbs, with about 50 types of basil and more varieties sprouting up all the time (though some estimates put the number at 100 varieties or more). Most people are familiar with the common sweet basil often used to make pesto, but there are basils that taste of clover, ginger, cinnamon, lemon and anise.

"There are all kinds of new varieties," says Maureen Rogers, director of the network and a longtime basil lover. "It’s amazing how many have been coming out. There’s a Thai basil that’s spicy. When you start really tasting leaves of each one, they’re really all unique."

She undoubtedly speaks for many when she declares: "I can’t go through a summer without basil."

Basil is considered a minor crop by the USDA so "no one really tracks it," Rogers says. But talk to herb growers and you get the picture.

Lake Geneva, Wis., herbalist Rosemary Divock can’t believe how much basil she goes through in a season. A refugee from the corporate world, Divock began her business, Thyme from Rosemary, in 1990. Right away, she saw that basil had won the right to be known as the king of herbs (its name, basileus, comes from the Greek for "king," according to "A Field Guide to Herbs" on the culinary Web site).

Divock is a bit surprised at how many times people come in and buy basil plants, but she suspects that part of the reason is that they’re not treating it right. Basil, it turns out, is as sensitive as it is strong. It loves heat and sun and humidity, and if people put it in the ground too early, it doesn’t survive and they have to buy more (more on the care and propagation of basil later).

Mark Olson, who runs Renaissance Farms in Spring Green, Wis., (, calls basil "my second love." The first is his wife, Mary.

Olson has seen the popularity of basil soar in the 16 years he’s been growing basil commercially. He no longer sells the fresh plant because there’s so much competition, says Olson, who sells pesto at the Dane County Farmers Market in Madison ( Now, he sells pesto (made from two types of basil -- lemon and Genovese -- as well as cilantro) and Pureed Basil and Olive Oil Herb Base, used by restaurants in sauces, soups and other dishes. All told, he expects to go through 20,000 pounds of basil this year.

"When I started selling pesto at the farmers market, hardly anybody knew what pesto was," he says. "Now, everybody knows."

A big part of it is the growing American taste for fuller, more complex flavors, he says.

"Part of it is we’re so connected now through the Internet, and satellite and cable TV," Olson says. "We’re exposed to so much, so many different kinds of foods."

He adds, "When I first started making pesto, there was one national brand. Now, Kraft has their own brand -- under the DiGiorno name."

Rogers, of the herb network, believes people are becoming more adventuresome. And if they’re cutting salt and fat from their cooking, basil and other herbs are a good way to beef up flavor.

"We’re getting to use basil more and more in cooking," Rogers says. "Also, a lot of the basils you’re seeing in magazines more -- Gourmet, Martha Stewart . . ."

And unlike some exotic herbs, people have at least heard of basil, Rogers says. That opens the door, and soon they’re trying other varieties.

Basil is also steeped in intriguing lore, Olson says. "A variety of basil supposedly spontaneously grew at Christ’s tomb," he says.

Divock, who grows six different kinds of basil, believes its popularity comes from the fact that it’s found in lots of different cuisines, from Italian to Thai.

Basil comes of age right about now, in the sultry days of summer. Divock will forgive you if you go a little basil-mad.

"July and August is when the flavor is the best," she says. "That’s when the leaves give off the most oils. That’s when people should harvest it. Cut it every week."

Olson says all good basil growers know that they must nip off the top 2 inches as soon as the plant starts to bud. Whatever kind of basil you have, don’t let it flower, he says.

One of Olson’s favorite ways to eat basil is on a kind of open-face summer sandwich. He toasts a slice of sourdough bread, slathers it with mayonnaise, adds a slice of fresh tomato, a bit of red onion and minced basil. You can mix the basil with the mayo if you like, too, he says.

"I just think that is the most simple, elegant summertime sandwich," he says.

Says Rogers: "There’s nothing like the really heady Genovese basil with buffalo mozzarella and the home-grown tomatoes. Genovese is my favorite for taste. It’s a stronger basil. It’s deeper than just the sweet basil. And they’re bigger leaves. You can put a leaf over your tomato slice and get the whole thing covered."

21. Spice It Up: Lemon Verbana
By Karen Herzog

MILWAUKEE, Wis., July 2, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- Lemon verbena has an overpowering lemon flavor, true to its name.

So a light touch is a good thing when using this herb in cooking.

Lemon verbena is available dried and sometimes fresh in specialty produce markets.

Chopped finely, the leaves provide lemon flavoring to fruit salads, stuffings, fruit drinks and teas, plus a few sweet dishes.

Here’s a recipe starring lemon verbena from Lake Geneva, Wis., herb expert Rosemary Divock.


1 (6-inch) sprig lemon verbena

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups flour

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, grated

1 egg, beaten

1/4 to 1/2 cup half-and-half cream

Melted butter

Sugar to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mince lemon verbena with sugar in food processor. Combine sugar mixture, flour, lemon zest, baking powder and salt in large bowl; mix well. Stir in grated butter until crumbly. Add egg and enough half-and-half to create dough; mix well. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth. Roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with floured biscuit cutter or cookie cutter. Place on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Brush hot biscuits lightly with melted butter; sprinkle with sugar. Makes 12 biscuits.

22. The Search for Cinnamon
By Kristin Eddy

HANOI, July 30, Chicago Tribune -- The search for cinnamon isn’t easy here. You can find long, parchmentlike rolled bark in spice markets in the city’s Old Quarter, and cinnamon trees themselves in the mountains north of here or in the central highlands. But mostly, when the Vietnamese are asked for their sources of cinnamon, their question in return is a puzzled "Why?" Given that their cuisine is lavish with fresh green herbs, many Vietnamese seem hard-pressed to understand such interest in a dried spice.

Certainly Vietnamese cinnamon is not yet a major export for the U.S. market. The big American spice companies have until recently gotten most of their cinnamon from Indonesia and China due to trade restrictions with Vietnam_another legacy of the American War, as it is called here_that were eased only last year.

But the cinnamon trade is growing again, and it is of particular interest to boutique spice merchants seeking high-quality cinnamon. Specialty marketers such as Bill Penzey of Milwaukee-based Penzeys Spices and Lucia Cleveland, founder and product researcher for the California-based Spice Hunter company, visit Vietnam because the country’s cinnamon is some of the best in the world.

The misty green highlands near the Chinese border provide the perfect climate for growing the trees these spice hunters are looking for. This cinnamon is more precisely called cassia (Cinnamonum cassia) and is a relative of the "true" cinnamon (C. zeylanicum), an evergreen native to Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan cinnamon has a smooth, mild flavor; cassia is sweeter but with a spicy bite. Vietnamese cassia’s high essential-oil content, which gives it a potent punch, is just the thing to attract importers on the lookout for new sources and new flavors.

"What is cinnamon? It’s tree bark," said Tom Erd, co-owner of The Spice House in Evanston, Ill. "Ground cinnamon is sawdust. But there is good sawdust and bad sawdust."

To harvest the bark, producers have to find trees that are at least 10 years old; Cleveland found 25-year-old trees. Although the cassia was "growing everywhere," she said, "very little of it was being harvested."

Turmeric and ginger are more likely to star as an ingredient in Vietnamese cooking.

"You have to work hardest in advance finding certain spices with the countries who don’t use it much in their cooking, because they don’t see the importance of it," Cleveland said. When she arrived in the northwestern part of the country, towing along her 7- and 10-year-old daughters, the villagers were amazed, she said, not just by the spectacle, but the mission.

Where it is used, according to food writer and restaurateur Mai Pham, is in slow-cooked dishes, many of which reflect the dishes of China, to the north.

"The first thing that comes to mind is pho (a beef and noodle soup) or as a marinade for meats and chicken or in braised, clay-pot cooking," said the California-based Pham. "It’s not really found in desserts."

This neglect is surprising in one aspect: Cinnamon has been exported from this part of the world for centuries. The Chinese were sending cassia in caravans to Central Asia by A.D. 100, according to James Trager’s "The Food Chronology."

As the spice moved west, it entered the cuisine of the Middle East, India and Europe. Solomon mentions the perfume of cinnamon in the Bible, and the ancient Egyptians used it occasionally in their embalming rituals. A 14th Century manuscript, preserved at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul and reprinted in "Medieval Arab Cookery," instructs cooks to choose "Chinese cinnamon which is rough, thick, tightly coiled, of penetrating smell, burning to the tongue."

The Chinese cassia, like the Vietnamese and Indonesian varieties, is still preferred for the American market, where, despite its pungency, it is consumed primarily with sweet foods and beverages. Even when cinnamon plays up its spicy potential, it’s for candy: Hot Tamales, Red Hots and cinnamon gum.

The mellower "Ceylon-type" cinnamon native to Sri Lanka and now also found in Madagascar, China and the Seychelle Islands, is mostly exported to Mexico, Central America and South America.

A species called canella, after the Spanish word for cinnamon, has bark with a similar fragrance and is known as "white cinnamon." The Europeans who came to the Western hemisphere in the 15th and 16th centuries were sure they had found real cinnamon when they came across this tropical, aromatic tree native to the Americas.

Those early visitors were desperate to find the spice. One expedition, a party of Spaniards looking for cinnamon in the mountain jungles of Ecuador, led to "one of the most horrifying stories in the history of spices," according to author Andrew Dalby in "Dangerous Tastes."

Two thousand men set out looking for alleged acres of cinnamon, seeking directions from the locals by "torturing village headmen until they told them where the cinnamon country was," writes Dalby. "They were always assured it was about 10 days’ march further on. It never was."

Lost, on foot and short of food, a starving, ragged party of just 80 survivors eventually returned to their departure point of Quito, empty-handed.

As with other spices, the precise source of cinnamon was a mystery to early Europeans and therefore more precious. Alain Stella’s "The Book of Spices" cites the 5th century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus on the mystical origin of the spice:

"It could be found in a lake inhabited by `beasts endowed with wings very similar to our own bats that possess a terrifying scream and are immensely strong; when collecting the cinnamon, one has to protect one’s eyes from attack.’"

Cinnamon growers north of Hanoi are far more hospitable, inviting a visitor into their one-room bamboo home for tea. Afterward, they gladly show off the tall cassia trees with their dull gray trunks and broad, waxy, dark green leaves. The bark is rough and spotted with pale patches, and doesn’t look richly colored enough to produce the warm, familiar spice.

Even when one grower, Tuyen Minh, shaved off a length of bark with his machete to expose a layer of soft, white pulp, the air was touched with only a faint aroma of cinnamon. But break the bark and the sharp smell is there, bringing up an instant, vivid recollection of toast and cookies. Even more powerful is the oil sucked from the leaf’s stem, powerful and spicy enough for a red hot candy.

Le Ahn Tran, a 26-year-old translator from Hanoi, had never seen cinnamon trees before. He too chewed a leaf stem and, even several minutes later, wrinkled his nose and rolled his tongue along the bottom lip in disbelief. "This is hot," he complained.

It’s a long ride back to Hanoi, and a question remained: Where to find cinnamon in the cuisine here? Pho, the treasured, soupy dish of noodles in beef broth, found everywhere in the city, is one answer. Back in Hanoi, Le Ahn recommended Mai Anh Pho. "It’s the best place."

So there, on a summer morning made steamier by the tail-end of a downpour, out from the kitchen came a serving of pho. Similar bowls already were nourishing a half-dozen people before a long day’s work. Outside the open windows, the whir of countless passing bicycles barely competed with the incessant honking from weaving cars. Exhaust fumes made it difficult to uncover the fragrance of the soup.

Then, there it was. The chopsticks stirred slender white noodles and pieces of thinly sliced beef, and up came a breath of cinnamon. Subtle and comforting, mingled with the scents of star anise and ginger, the cinnamon, grown in the mountains, cut by hand and laboriously ground, sweetly made a bow.

23. Iced Tea Gets Dressed Up with Fruit and Herbs
By Andy Badeker

CHICAGO, July 30, Chicago Tribune -- The formula for iced tea -- plain old black tea brewed extra-strong, then poured over a glassful of cubes that crack under the steaming onslaught -- needs no elaboration, really. A sprig of mint, maybe, if you’ve got some getting out of control in the back yard, and a lemon wedge if you can be bothered to cut one. Then it’s hammock time.

But the urge to fiddle, to perfect, is human, and iced tea provides an easy opportunity. Any favorite tea, herbal or otherwise, can be brewed up strong and poured over ice. Beyond that lie the additions of herb-infused sugar syrups and lemonade or limeade.

The Big Bowl chain of Asian noodle restaurants specializes in an iced tea colored an inviting ruby, courtesy of the addition of hibiscus blossoms, and sweetened with stevia, an herbal sweetener.

"We tweaked it for a long time," said Matt McMillin, Big Bowl’s vice president of culinary operations. "We approach beverages the same way we approach other dishes: It’s a matter of balance" among sweetness, acidity and color.

The success of that tea has led the restaurant to use it as a base for occasional drink specials, from lemonade to vodka cocktails, where it can be substituted for equally colorful cranberry juice.

McMillin suggests that home cooks experiment by steeping a favorite dried fruit in the hot water with the loose tea. Another approach: Make a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated until the sugar dissolves) with the addition of sliced fresh ginger, lemon grass or mint leaves, and use it to flavor your usual tea.

"Lemon verbena is great to steep in the hot tea before cooling it off," McMillin said. He has used a similar method to impart flavor to the liquid base of homemade granitas, sorbets and ice creams. "The sky’s the limit."

At Biloxi Grill, a Wauconda, Ill., restaurant that specializes in regional Southern cooking, the staff keeps its tea preparation simple: hot water and lots of tea for a concentrated brew.

But these days they start with China Mist herbal mix, not straight black tea. And despite its Southern menu, the restaurant lets its customers do the sweetening.

"We did originally try sweetened tea when we opened, but it was not a hit," said general manager Jim Redmond.

The lemon wedge, though, remains.


Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Yield: 12 six-ounce servings

Adapted from "The Book of Coffee and Tea," by Joel, David and Karl Schapira.

2 quarts plus 1/2 cup water

5 level tablespoons black tea or 6 tea bags

1/2 cup each: sugar, fresh lemon juice

1 package (10 ounces) frozen strawberries, optional


Mint sprigs for garnish

1. Heat 2 quarts of the water to boil. Remove from heat; stir in tea or tea bags. Let steep 5 minutes. Strain or remove tea bags.

2. Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup by combining remaining 1/2 cup water and sugar in small saucepan. Heat to simmer; cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool.

3. Stir sugar solution, lemon juice and strawberries, if using, into tea. Pour into ice-filled glasses; garnish with mint.

Nutrition information per serving (with strawberries): 62 calories, 0% of calories from fat, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 16 g carbohydrates, 0.2 g protein, 6 mg sodium, 0.6 g fiber

24. Wimpy Habanero Peppers
By Lynn Brezosky

HARLINGEN, Texas, July 27, AP -- From the plant science that has sized onions for burger buns and made watermelon pits an option, there’s a new innovation: mild habaneros.

It’s an oxymoron given the spicy nature of the orange peppers, but it’s bound to sell big. Salsa makers dream of bringing the aroma and taste of habaneros to middle America.

"Mild. That’s always the key word," said Ben Villalon, the veteran pepper researcher who had a mild jalapeno out in the 1970s, long before salsa became a billion-dollar industry.

Villalon’s lab at Texas A&M had been fielding requests from salsa makers who hoped the same could be done with habaneros.

Researcher Kevin Crosby, who inherited the habanero project when Villalon retired, says his plants are only a few generations from perfection, which means the milder pepper could be available to consumers in two years.

That’s good news to marketers, bad news to "chile-heads" who fear the fire is being bred out of peppers.

"I know every time something like this comes out, your hard-core chile-heads get all up in arms," said David Gibson, editor of the Fort Worth-based Chile Pepper magazine.

But Gibson and other aficionados see the logic in trying to tame the flavors and aromas of a pepper that’s six times hotter than a jalapeno -- so blisteringly hot that a smattering can render a pot of food inedible. Handlers wear gloves against the sting of the juice.

Crosby has been crossing Mexican habanero species with the milder wild habanero species from Bolivia and Colombia. His research started as a search for a hardy plant that would adapt to the southern Texas soils, which lack the tropical moisture found in Central and South American soils.

Charles Davis, president of Habagallo Foods in McAllen, a business launched on faith in the habanero, says the researchers are on to something big. He takes credit for calling Villalon, and envisions big profits in what he calls the "mildaneros." Most people use the pepper for its heat; he thinks they could be used for the flavor that’s currently overpowered by that heat.

In one of his frequent experiments with the peppers, he put some habaneros on a cookie sheet and baked them.

"The smell was just unbelievable," he said. "I said ‘Man, I would like to get more of them in my sauce. But they’re hot!"

Davis also is excited about using the hybrid in his new michelada mix. It’s used to make the popular Mexican cocktail, a mix of beer and spices served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. It’s already available in supermarkets across Texas.

He said a milder habanero would help him reach a wider market.

"The further north, the lighter the taste buds are," he said.

Pace, the nation’s leading Mexican salsa marketer, knew that when it introduced its milder jalapeno in 1996.

"When you have a mild (jalapeno) it expands your opportunity to reach consumers," said John Faulkner, spokesman for Campbell Foods in Camden, N.J., which now owns Pace.

25. Naturopaths and The Medicinal Magic of Herbs
WESTPORT, Conn., July 9, HealthScout -- Herbal medicine is one of those things we hear a lot about these days. But are you confused about what it really is, much less how to incorporate it into your life?

Naturopath Dr. Jennifer Brett, chair of botanical medicine at the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine, has the scoop on herbs and their health benefits.

Just what is a naturopath? A physician who’s trained and licensed in plant-based medicines and herbs. Naturopaths go through four years of medical school like all doctors, but instead of training in a hospital with traditional pharmaceutical drugs, they train in natural medicine.

"Naturopaths are useful in helping patients to optimize general health in a preventative sort of way as opposed to simply treating illness after it occurs," explains Brett. "Naturopaths are also effective in treating chronic complaints, many women’s health-care issues, and typically any complaint that is not responsive to traditional drugs or surgery."

Many people choose to have a naturopath as their general physician, meaning that the naturopath examines the patient regularly to ensure that they maintain overall good health, treating small problems with herbal medicine as they arise. Like any general practitioner, a naturopath will send his or her patients to a specialist when a more serious problem arises.

Other people choose to see a naturopath in addition to a general practitioner. "Some of my patients prefer to see a traditional physician and to supplement that with herbal treatments," says Brett.

"Many people come to a naturopath when conventional medicine has not met their needs. This is especially common in people with chronic complaints that have not been ameliorated by pharmaceutical drugs, and with women facing specific women’s health issues such as menopause. Often, these people find that herbal medicine is more effective than the traditional kind."

26. Cooks Can Choose from a Bouquet of Basil Varieties
By Jan Uebelherr

MILWAUKEE, Wis., July 30, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- When you want basil, you usually just go to the store and buy basil. What you get is probably sweet basil -- Ocimum basilicum, if you want to get botanical about it.

A member of the mint family, basil in its varieties can taste like cinnamon, lemon or anise. Some have quite a bite.

Here are some of the more widely available varieties of culinary basil, according to herbalist Rosemary Divock and the Herb Society of America.

Sweet basil: A basic for pesto and other dishes, it’s dark green and not as pungent as other varieties. "It’s really the basic basil that most grocery stores have," says Divock.

Genovese: It has deep green leaves and a sweet and spicy flavor with a hint of clove; it has a deeper flavor and is a favorite for pesto.

African Blue: This basil has purple-tinged leaves with purple undersides. Its strong, exotic flavor -- with a hint of camphor -- is used in Middle Eastern, African and Southeast Asian cooking. "It’s strong, though," Divock cautions. Many people use it as an ornamental plant.

Cinnamon basil: As the name implies, it has a spicy, cinnamon flavor. It has purple-tinged stems, green leaves and burgundy flower spikes. "It’s really a dessert basil," says Divock. It can be used with baked apples and makes a great jelly, she says.

Lemon basil: This variety has light green leaves, small white flowers and a lemony flavor. "It’s good with fish and chicken," says Divock. It can also be used in vinegars, teas and salads.

Dark Opal basil: The glossy, dark purple leaves of this basil have a spicy flavor with a bit of ginger. It’s used with stir-fries and can be used to make pesto -- but sparingly, says Divock.

Thai Purple basil: Used in Asian dishes, this basil has long green leaves dappled with purple. The leaves have an anise flavor.

Siam Queen: Another Thai basil, it has a burgundy flower and can be used ornamentally. "That’s one of the basils that you can leave flower," says Divock. "This is one that is really pretty." It has 3-inch leaves, purple stems and purple flowers.

Its flavor is pungent and cinnamony, with an exotic flavor. It’s good in Cambodian and Thai dishes, as well as chutney and marinades.

27. Herb Business News
AlphaRx: Introduces SleepyNite Controlled-Release Tablet Sleeping Aid

RICHMOND HILL, Ontario, July 16, BW HealthWire -- AlphaRx Inc. announced today the introduction of SleepyNite(R). The National Institute of Health reports that as many as forty million Americans are afflicted with more than 70 different types of sleep-related problems. AlphaRx understands the importance of obtaining adequate sleep and the risks of excessive sleepiness and, in response, has developed SleepyNite(R), a revolutionary controlled-release dietary supplement designed to help promote a restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep.

SleepyNite(R) is formulated with AlphaRx’s proprietary controlled-release delivery system and contains Melatonin, a hormone produced naturally within the pineal gland of the brain, as well as other herbal ingredients known to promote sleep.

Each SleepyNite(R) tablet provides an initial release of Melatonin (within 2 minutes), to rapidly induce sleep, and a controlled-release of other supportive herbal ingredients for 6 hours thereafter, ensure a full and restful night’s sleep. Supportive herbal ingredients include Valerian, Hops and Kava Kava, among others. These natural ingredients have been used for centuries for their relaxing effects and natural calming attributes that promote sleep.

"SleepyNite(R) is a great product. Other Melatonin sleep aid formulations release their Melatonin content immediately and may not be effective in providing a sustainable restful night’s sleep. This is because the therapeutic half-life of Melatonin is very short and is completely metabolized by the body within an hour," said Mr. Michael Lee, President of AlphaRx. "SleepyNite(R)’s controlled-release formulation provides enough Melatonin initially to induce sleep and a sustained release of other herbal ingredients throughout the night to maintain a long, restful sleep."

SleepyNite(R) will be available in health food stores in August.

About AlphaRx

AlphaRx Inc. is a leading drug delivery company that develops and markets innovative therapeutic products based on its proprietary Bioadhesive Colloidal Dispersion drug delivery systems.

Archer Daniels Midland: Licenses Canadian Flax Lignan Technology

DECATUR, Ill., Jul. 9, ADM -- Archer Daniels Midland today announced that it has signed an exclusive licensing agreement for flax lignan technology that may have potential to reduce the risk of several diseases, including hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis, lupus nephritis, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension. The license gives ADM an exclusive, worldwide right to produce and sell a flax lignan complex or purified flax lignan for use as an active ingredient in functional foods, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, animal feed additives, and veterinary products. ADM is a world leader in the processing of flaxseed.

ADM’s agreement is with The Flax Consortium, a research collaboration between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Saskatoon Research Centre (AAFC), the University of Saskatchewan Technologies Inc. (UST), and Dr. William Clark of the University of Western Ontario and the London Health Sciences Centre. The Flax Consortium was formed in 1995 to extract, purify, and study the use of flax lignans, for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. During the past five years, the Consortium’s research has resulted in a number of process and use patents and patent applications which have been licensed to ADM.

"This exclusive agreement for flax lignan technology is another example of ADM’s commitment toward realizing the potential of value-added agricultural products," said G. Allen Andreas, Chairman and Chief Executive of Archer Daniels Midland. "While we remain focused on our core businesses, we will continue to identify and invest in value-added technologies that hold promise to reduce the prevalence of several widespread diseases. We believe our prudent approach to technology investment will deliver attractive returns to our shareholders over the long term."

The principal active component in flax is the lignan secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG). SDG is a phytochemical that has been demonstrated to have a beneficial effect on several diseases. This technology can create products that complement and extend the nutraceutical properties ascribed to ground flaxseed, while eliminating many of the drawbacks associated with the consumption of whole flaxseed.

Key members of the Flax Consortium commented on the agreement. "ADM’s commitment to bringing this technology to the market illustrates how research collaborations such as the Flax Consortium are instrumental in creating significant commercial value to an agricultural commodity such as flaxseed," said UST’s President, Dr. B. F. Peterman. Dr. P.A. O’Sullivan, Director of the Saskatoon Research Centre of AAFC, noted, "This technology is an excellent example of how we can use our knowledge to create new bio-based products from traditional commodity crops." Dr. William Clark, who has been involved in the use of flax lignans for the treatment of lupus, concluded, "The flax-derived lignan has great therapeutic potential. This potential would not have been recognized without the skillful direction of the Flax Consortium by investigators and administrators at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatoon Research Centre."

ADM is a world leader in agricultural processing. The company is the world’s largest processor of soybeans, corn, wheat and cocoa. ADM is also a leader in soy meal and oil, ethanol, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and flour. In addition, ADM is building a position in such value-added products as food additives and nutraceuticals (such as Vitamin E and sterols). Headquartered in Decatur, Illinois, ADM has over 23,000 employees, 368 processing plants, and net sales for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000 of $18.6 billion.

==== Closes Series B Funding

CHICAGO, July 2, PRNewswire -- Inc., the online global market maker for agricultural commodities sold in bulk, today announced that it has secured Series B financing led by Bay City Capital’s North American Nutrition and Agribusiness Fund (NANAF), in conjunction with William Blair New World Ventures. operates and, e-marketplaces dedicated to producers and packagers of bulk wine and juice concentrates.

"The dust has settled in the world of B2B e-marketplaces. The strong companies now remain and continue to see support from the venture capital community," said Mike MacDougal, CEO of " has achieved significant trading liquidity in its agricultural e-marketplaces. With the financial support of Bay City Capital and William Blair New World Ventures, we look forward to continuing to grow and add value to these industries."

"We have remained true to our original business model by staying focused only on the bulk segment of the industry," said President Jeff Walker. "We believe this is why we have the best product and service and were able to secure additional funding in this changing market."

This second round of funding will help fuel the company’s sales expansion into key wine and juice producing and purchasing countries around the globe, including Italy, Spain, Australia and Northern Europe. currently has knowledgeable representatives in Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile, and Germany to service professionals using the e-marketplaces. and members can efficiently negotiate and execute their entire transaction online. Additionally, members can access real-time market price and volume data, manage contracts and logistics, and arrange post-transaction services such as shipping.’s future growth strategy includes expanding into other bulk agricultural commodity markets such as nuts, dried fruits, spices/herbs and edible oils.

"Bay City Capital is familiar with the agribusiness e-commerce space, and we believe is the leader in this industry. We are impressed with the traction and results to date and are excited to be involved with this company," said Kirby Bartlett, Vice President at Bay City Capital.

About Bay City Capital

Bay City Capital (BCC) is a private merchant bank that focuses exclusively on the life sciences industry, including the pharmaceutical, biomedical, eHealth, and nutrition and agribusiness sectors. BCC provides investment capital and strategic and transaction advisory services to publicly traded and privately held companies. BCC builds long-standing relationships with their client and portfolio companies, and provide many services to them during their association. BCC has over $450 million under management in three investment funds, BCC Funds I, II and III, and the North American Nutrition and Agribusiness Fund (NANAF), with plans to expand the funds continuously over time.

About William Blair New World Ventures

William Blair New World Ventures invests equity capital in start-up, early stage and emerging growth companies. The fund is focused on supporting, promoting, and facilitating the success of tomorrow’s most innovative high- technology firms in the software, Internet, networking, and telecommunications industries. Since 1996, the firm has invested in numerous U.S. companies including AirCell,, Ikimbo, Rivenet, Tavve Software and Toplander.

Chattem: Capsaicin-Containing Product Recalled

WASHINGTON, July 11 -- The U.S. Food and Drug announced today in its weekly FDA Enforcement Report that Chattanooga, Tenn., company, Chattem, Inc., is recalling its capsaicin-containing lotion, Capzasin-HP. According to the FDA report, 11,064 two fluid ounce units are being recalled for "sub-potency" with the active ingredient was found to be unstable at twelve months.

The active ingredient, capsaicin, is extracted from hot peppers and is used in a topical application form to relieve the pain of arthritis and other conditions.

CV Technologies: New Corporate Website

VANCOUVER, B.C., July 31, Market News Publishing -- CV Technologies, Inc. announced that the new CV Technologies, Inc. corporate website is now online. The new website, available at, was designed and developed to provide detailed and up-to-date information about the company, its products, and the advancing research. The new website also provides advanced navigational tools.

The new website features:

- A detailed investors section, including stock price, current filings, corporate information, an on-line information request function, and an e-mail mechanism enabling investors to receive alerts whenever new information is posted to the site.

- A research and development section with up-to-date information about products in development.

- A HerbTech(R) product section with information about products currently sold as nutraceuticals. was designed and developed by CV Technologies in conjunction with Adnet Communications Inc. of Vancouver, BC (

About CV Technologies

CV Technologies (CVT) is an international science and technology company that conducts evidence-based, primary scientific research and clinical trials in order to establish a solid foundation for commercialization of nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products.

Drkoop: Complementary Medicine Expert Leads Creation of Dietary Supplements

SANTA MONICA, Calif., July 10, Business Wire --, Inc. today announced that Dr. Marc Micozzi, MD, PhD, has joined the company’s medical advisory board as principal medical advisor in the areas of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), demonstrating the company’s promise to market only dietary supplement formulas based on scientific evidence.

Micozzi is a distinguished physician and has been conducting scientific research and scholarly studies on diet, nutrition and herbal remedies for the past 25 years, including projects at the National Institutes of Health, Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Md., of the USDA and the Walter Reed Medical Center.

In addition, he is the first physician to write a textbook for other physicians that highlights the importance of complementary and herbal medicine in the practice of medicine. Micozzi is also the author of the current textbook on the subject, "Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine," which is utilized in curricula at over half of all U.S. medical schools including Harvard, Yale and Columbia.

Micozzi is applying his unique expertise to create and review all supplement formulas to ensure that approved formulas are based only on facts gathered from controlled scientific studies and reliable sources that employ proven drug-testing techniques. Those techniques include double blind studies using methods to eliminate external influences, unreliable anecdotes and researcher bias.

"People today are taking any number of supplements in dosages and combinations with effectiveness that is at best questionable and at worst, a serious risk to their health," said Micozzi. "Every drkoop formula will be based on scientific evidence with proven results, providing consumers with trusted and reliable products that the medical community can also vigorously support."

Dr. C. Everett Koop, the former U.S. surgeon general, and Micozzi both believe that unreliable and inconsistent information about supplements available in a burgeoning supplement industry poses a serious public health risk., Inc. is working to provide research-backed information to make it easier for consumers to know and understand the most appropriate and effective ways to take supplements.

"Incorporating Dr. Micozzi’s expertise is consumer advocacy at its finest," said Koop, the former U.S. surgeon general and co-chair of, Inc. "I’ve always believed in giving people information they can use to make informed choices. Marc is helping us to raise the bar for the industry overall by reassuring customers that we’ve done our homework, so they don’t have to."

The introductory line is expected to be available to consumers in late September and will include formulations for healthy joints, menopause symptoms, prostate health and mental clarity.

About Dr. Marc Micozzi

Micozzi has been conducting scientific research and scholarly studies on diet, nutrition and herbal remedies for the past 25 years, including projects at the National Institute of Health, Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Md., of the USDA and the Walter Reed Medical Center. Specifically, he was one of the medical scientists who first discovered in 1985 the importance of lycopene in human nutrition and health and did research with Nobel laureate Barry Blumberg in 1988 to show that most people should not take iron supplements.

In July 1999, Micozzi was the first person asked to present the topic of complementary medicine to the AMA President’s National Leadership Council at their Annual Meeting in Chicago. He wrote the introduction to the section on Diet, Nutrition and Lifestyle in the AMA publication "Alternative Medicine: An Objective Assessment, 2000" and has reviewed all the entries on alternative medicine for the upcoming new "AMA Consumer Health Encyclopedia."

Other accomplishments include being founding editor of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and author of a number of prominent research papers including groundbreaking research that has led to the reduction or elimination of iron and beta-carotene from many daily vitamin/mineral supplements. Micozzi will be listed as AMA’s alternative medicine advisor.

About, Inc.

Founded in 1997,, Inc. is a publicly traded company committed to providing contemporary, science-based, branded health-care products, services and information to the Baby Boomer market. True to the tradition established by the former U.S. surgeon general, offers a unique resource to empower people across the health spectrum to make informed lifestyle choices. A name consumers know they can trust, and its youth division, have more than 2 million registered users.

Forbes Med-Tech: Cholesterol Lowering Product Containing Phytrol(TM) Introduced

VANCOUVER, B.C., July 31 -- Forbes Medi-Tech Inc. announced today that Twinlab Corporation, a leading manufacturer of dietary supplements, has introduced the first cholesterol lowering dietary supplement available as pills or chewable wafers containing Forbes’ proprietary plant sterol-based ingredient Phytrol(TM) (brand name Reducol(TM)) in the U.S.

Marketed under the name "Cholesterol Success", Twinlab plans to begin shipping the supplement to retail outlets in early August. Cholesterol Success will be available in health and natural food stores across the U.S. shortly thereafter. Twinlab plans to support the product launch with a multi-million dollar advertising and promotional campaign.

"The Twinlab introduction of Cholesterol Success expands the application of Reducol(TM) outside of food categories as well as broadening its availability outside of traditional food distribution channels," said Tazdin Esmail, Chairman and CEO, Forbes Medi-Tech Inc. "Leading dietary supplement companies such as Twinlab have recognized the potential of plant sterol-based products to help consumers reduce their cholesterol levels."

Each serving of the Twinlab Cholesterol Success dietary supplement contains 900 mg of Reducol(TM). Recommended dosage consists of taking either two pills or one chewable wafer just before eating breakfast and dinner.

Reducol(TM) has been exclusively licensed on a worldwide basis to Novartis Consumer Health SA for use as a functional food ingredient, dietary supplement and inclusion in certain over-the-counter products. The ingredient has been sub-licensed to Twinlab for use in its dietary supplement.

The Cholesterol Success introduction follows last week’s announcement of the test market launch of the Quaker Take Heart line of food products in upstate New York by the Altus Food Company. The Quaker Take Heart line of food products include ready-to-eat cereals, snack bars and fruit juice beverages fortified with Reducol(TM). The Altus Food Company is a joint venture between Novartis Consumer Health and the Quaker Oats Company.

Reducol(TM) is a proprietary plant sterol/stanol blend developed and manufactured by Forbes Medi-Tech. The plant sterols and stanols in Reducol(TM) have been clinically proven to safely and effectively lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by up to 24 per cent when combined with a healthy diet. Of this 24 per cent reduction in LDL cholesterol, approximately nine percent can be attributed to a healthy diet. Reducol(TM) works by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine.

Coronary heart disease is responsible for approximately 40 per cent of all deaths in the U.S., and high blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for this disease. According to the American Heart Association, more than 100 million American adults have elevated cholesterol levels.

Forbes Medi-Tech Inc. is a diversified health sciences company dedicated to the research, development and commercialization of innovative nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products derived from nature. By extracting plant sterols from wood pulping by-products, Forbes is developing cholesterol-lowering agents to be used both as functional food ingredients and pharmaceutical therapeutics in the battle against heart disease. Forbes is also developing innovative fermentation technology that converts plant sterols into pharmaceutical fine chemicals, essential in the production of various pharmaceutical steroids such as contraceptive agents and anti-inflammatories. Phytrol(TM) is a registered trademark of Forbes Medi-Tech Inc.

Fytokem: Growth Continues with Sales Up 82% Over Year Ago Levels

SASKATOON, Sask., July 30 -- Fytokem Products Inc., a leading discoverer and developer of therapeutic plant extracts and bioactive molecules, today announced its second quarter financial results for the period ended June 30, 2001. Sales for the second quarter of 2001 are up 119% over the same quarter last year, as a result of the Company’s success in the personal care industry. For the three-month period ended June 30, 2001, Fytokem achieved quarterly sales revenue of $117,789, up 119% from $53,830 in the same period of 2000. Fytokem reported a total net loss for the three-month period ended June 30, 2001 of $191,226 or ($0.01) per share, down 21% from a loss of $241,804 or ($0.02) per share in the corresponding period a year ago. On a year to date basis, sales for this fiscal year are up 82% over the first half of last year, while the loss for the first half of this year is down 22% from last year.

"During the second quarter, we announced that major cosmetics companies L’Oreal, Merle Norman, Jergens, Just and others in the Personal Care Industry (PCI) now use Fytokem products as active ingredients in their products. As competition increases among these companies for access to truly Function-Certified products with a strong scientific basis, Fytokem believes the bio-active assets that it continues to develop are becoming increasingly more valuable," said Art Hesje, President and CEO of Fytokem Products Inc. "Our customer base is expanding, and a number of current customers are increasing orders. There is clearly a trend in the personal care industry to purchase the scientifically proven, unique, Function-Certified plant-based products that Fytokem produces," said Hesje. Once considered specialty products for small niche markets, Fytokem believes plant-based products including those developed by it are quickly garnering mainstream acceptance and making headway into major segments of the global cosmetics industry. "The industry trend toward plant-based products is relatively new. Fytokem’s established position in this market and its scientifically proven products are ideally suited to take advantage of many fast-growing market opportunities," Mr. Hesje continued.

"Fytokem started to discover, develop and commercialize these ingredients ahead of this trend. We are well situated to take full advantage of this positive industry trend." The Company made the following achievements during the second quarter: *Through its strategic partner, Dragoco Gerberding of Germany, several Fytokem products continue to see sustained market growth. Two are rapidly becoming recognized as very efficacious in their field -- Canadian Willowherb, as an anti-irritant, and Tyrostat, as a skin-lightening product aimed at the sizeable Asian market. These two activities constitute large segments of the PCI market. Dragoco is currently developing a marketing plan for a third product that promises strong market success.

GNC: Launches In-Mall Marketing Test for `Hot’ Products

PITTSBURGH, July 30, Business Wire -- General Nutrition Centers, the largest specialty retailer of nutritional supplements, today announced that it will test a new marketing and distribution concept that will place cart kiosks in 25 of the largest malls nationwide, beginning in August.

The cart kiosks will be conveniently located in central traffic patterns in major malls where GNC already has stores, increasing the visibility and accessibility to GNC products. The cart kiosks will feature some of GNC’s best-selling products, including ArginMax(R), which is scientifically designed to support male and female satisfaction; and GNC’s exclusive product, Scan Diet(TM), a nutritionally complete meal replacement product for consumers who are striving to lose and/or maintain their weight.

The cart kiosks will be located in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Roberta Gaffga, GNC Senior Vice President of Marketing, said.

"This is an exercise in one-on-one marketing that places a small selection of GNC’s hottest products right in front of consumers in major metropolitan malls. The cart kiosk program not only introduces consumers to our best selling products, it also serves as a roadmap pointing them to our stores in these malls. This is truly low-cost, consumer friendly marketing."

GNC: Nutritional Supplement Dedicated to Brain Health -- Cognita(TM)

PITTSBURGH, Pa., July 25, Internet Wire -- General Nutrition Centers (GNC) is now offering a nutritional supplement dedicated to brain health -- Preventive Nutrition® Cognita(tm);.

GNC’s patent-pending Cognita formula is a unique combination of ginkgo biloba, which supports increased blood flow to the brain, and huperzine A, which helps prevent the breakdown of a key neurotransmitter in the brain. Low levels of a key neurotransmitter in the brain may be associated with memory loss. Huperzine A helps preserve these neurotransmitters. Other key ingredients include the structural fatty acids DHA and EPA that make up a significant portion of gray matter in the brain, and the vitamins B1, B12 and folic acid. It also contains the coenzyme Q-10, an important supplement for protecting the brain from oxidative damage.

"Today’s consumers are well educated on the use and the importance of supplements. Furthermore, consumers demand and expect quality products that have been tested and provide maximum nutritional support," said Dr. Susan Trimbo, GNC’s vice president of Scientific Affairs. "GNC recognizes the demand for scientifically-designed supplements, and its Preventive Nutrition® brand represents a new model for the dietary supplement category, providing the best available science, simplifying consumer choice and embedding expertise and efficacy in each bottle," she added.

Preventive Nutrition® Cognita is currently featured on the 2001 Prevention magazines six-month Healthy Lifestyle Tour that will visit more than 14 states across the country, providing more than $400 worth of free medical screenings, and practical health information. GNC is providing an informative brochure on its Preventive Nutrition® brand, money-saving coupons, as well as product sampling and GNC spokespeople at various locations.

With the availability of Cognita, GNC enhances its line of Preventive Nutrition products, a portfolio of scientifically based supplements, minerals and herbs. Supported by a multi-million dollar research commitment, these products will address health issues -- from eye, bone and prostate health to liver function -- in standardized formulations.

General Nutrition Companies, Inc. (GNC), based in Pittsburgh, PA is the largest nationwide specialty retailer of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, sports nutrition as well as many personal care and related products. GNC operates more than 4,500 retail outlets throughout the United States and 26 foreign markets including Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. GNC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Numico N.V., a worldwide market leader in specialized nutrition that includes infant and clinical nutrition and nutritional supplements. Headquartered in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, Royal Numico’s operations include manufacturing facilities in more than 50 countries and research facilities in The Netherlands, Germany, the U.K. and Australia. In addition to GNC, Royal Numico’s family of companies includes Rexall Sundown, Inc., a major supplier to the mass market based in Boca Raton, FL, sports nutrition leaders Met-Rx and Worldwide Nutrition and the multi-level marketing operation of Enrich International.

Hauser: Reports Year-End Net Loss and Sales Decline

BOULDER, Colo., July 17, Primezone -- Hauser, Inc. yesterday reported results for the year ended March 31

For the year there was a net loss of $33.3 million, including non-cash charges totaling $22.2 million reflecting the write down of substantially all goodwill, certain fixed assets and inventory. The net loss per share for the 2001 fiscal year was $6.75, compared with a net loss of $28.4 million, or $6.47 per share for the 11 months ended March 31, 2000.

Total revenues for fiscal 2001 were $66.7 million compared to $81.2 million during the 11 months of fiscal 2000. The reduction in revenue was a result of a worldwide over supply of dietary supplement products, which resulted in reduced sales due to customer inventory levels. The revenue decline also resulted from a decision by a principal supplier to sell excipient products directly rather than distribute them through Hauser.

Kenneth Cleveland, president and chief executive officer, said, "Hauser’s fiscal 2001 year was marked by the continued effort to reduce costs, restructure operations and return the company to profitability. We believe our restructuring efforts and cost reductions will improve our operating efficiencies and allow us to continue to be a leading supplier of natural product extracts and nutritional supplements to food, health care, and pharmaceutical markets in the U.S."

Cleveland added: "Looking to the future, we are concentrating on developing proprietary, clinically supported natural extract products. Our emphasis will be on the development of those products that differentiate Hauser from its competitors and extend our company’s legacy of discovery and innovation."

Hauser, a Customer Connected(SM) company headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, is a leading supplier of herbal extracts and nutritional supplements. The Company also provides interdisciplinary laboratory testing services, chemical engineering services, and contract research and development. The Company’s products and services are principally marketed to the pharmaceutical, dietary supplement and food ingredient businesses. Hauser’s business units include: Botanicals International Extracts, Hauser Laboratories, Shuster Laboratories and ZetaPharm.

Hauser: Names New Chief Financial Officer

BOULDER, Colo., July 26, Primezone -- Hauser, Inc. today announced the appointment of Thomas W. Hanlon as chief financial officer. He replaces Terry Feit who served as Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer.

Mr. Hanlon, 52, has more than 26 years of financial management experience. Prior to joining Hauser, Mr. Hanlon served as chief financial officer and/or controller for a number of companies, including American Security Distribution, Young’s Specialty Distributing, B.U.M. International, Jet Apparel, Advanced Research Laboratories and Pacific Supply Company. Earlier, he was financial vice president, controller and corporate secretary of Cardis Corporation. Mr. Hanlon is a Certified Public Accountant and began his financial career with Ernst and Young. He earned a bachelor degree in accounting from Cleveland State University.

Kenneth Cleveland, president and chief executive officer, said, "Tom bolsters our senior management team and brings to Hauser excellent leadership and broad management experience. He is a seasoned professional, having worked as a turnaround specialist and financing and planning strategist, as well as substantive roles in improving both profitability and capital structure of businesses. We look forward to Tom’s insights at this pivotal and exciting juncture as we advance our efforts to return Hauser to profitability."

Hauser, a Customer Connected(SM) company headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, is a leading supplier of herbal extracts and nutritional supplements. The Company also provides interdisciplinary laboratory testing services, chemical engineering services, and contract research and development. The Company’s products and services are principally marketed to the pharmaceutical, dietary supplement and food ingredient businesses. Hauser’s business units include: Botanicals International Extracts, Hauser Laboratories, Shuster Laboratories and ZetaPharm.

LifeSmart: Patent for Noni Soft Chews

SALT LAKE CITY, July 16, BW HealthWire -- LifeSmart Inc. Monday announced that it has filed a patent to protect intellectual property in regards to its Noni soft chews.

Thorpe, North and Western, a firm specializing in the protection of its clients’ intellectual property, handled the patent application on behalf of LifeSmart Nutrition. Noni is a tropical fruit that has gained a lot of popularity due to the antioxidant and other benefits it provides users. Noni sales currently exceed $600 million annually.

LifeSmart’s management is currently positioning its Noni product to gain a significant share of the exploding Noni market by touting its delivery advantages. Management believes that its Noni soft chew format is superior in taste and offers greater convenience to consumers compared to the liquid-based formats offered by the competition.

The LifeSmart patent aims to protect the unique soft chew delivery system, which uses micronized Noni and a special blend of sugars to enhance absorption. The filing will also guard against competitors marketing the combination of any other herb, vitamin or mineral combination with Noni.

The unique manufacturing procedure controlling heat temperatures, which activate the polysaccharides without affecting the other benefits of Noni, is definitively cited in the patent application.

LifeSmart is a nutraceutical company that has spent the past three years developing an impressive product line geared toward providing great-tasting nutritional products to the masses. LifeSmart has secured relationships to 23,000 distribution outlets and has sold and shipped private label orders to several major national retailers.

Nature’s Sunshine: Reports Second Quarter Operating Results

PROVO, Utah, July 23, Business Wire -- Nature’s Sunshine Products, Inc., a leading manufacturer and marketer of encapsulated herbs and vitamins, today announced operating results for the quarter ended June 30.

Sales revenue for the quarter ended June 30, 2001, was $81.8 million compared to $79.7 million for the same period in the prior year, an increase of approximately 3 percent. Net income for the second quarter totaled $4.7 million compared to $4.9 million for the same period in the prior year, a decrease of approximately 4 percent. Basic and diluted earnings per common share for the second quarter ended June 30, 2001, were $0.29 and $0.28, respectively, compared to basic and diluted earnings per common share of $0.29 each for the same period in the prior year.

For the six months ended June 30, 2001, sales revenue totaled $163.5 million compared to $161.1 million for the same period of the prior year, an increase of approximately 1 percent. Net income for the six months ended June 30, 2001, was $8.7 million, compared to $9.4 million for the same period in the prior year, a decrease of approximately 7 percent. Basic and diluted earnings per common share for the six months ended June 30, 2001, were $0.54 and $0.53, respectively, compared to basic and diluted earnings per common share of $0.55 each in the same period in the prior year.

The Company’s international operations achieved record sales revenue and accounted for approximately 44 percent of total sales revenue. For the quarter ended June 30, 2001, international sales revenue totaled $36.1 million compared to $35.4 million for the same period in the prior year, an increase of approximately 2 percent. For the six months ended June 30, 2001, the Company’s international operations reported sales revenue of $71.8 million compared to $67.5 million for the same period of the prior year, an increase of approximately 6 percent. This increase in revenue for the above periods reflected continued growth in South Korea, Venezuela, the Russian Federation and Mexico. In Japan, where a new general manager was introduced in April 2001, sales revenue has shown early signs of improvement.

The Company’s domestic operations reported its first increase in sales revenue since the fourth quarter of 1999. Sales revenue for the quarter ended June 30, 2001, was $45.6 million compared to $44.2 million for the same period in the prior year, an increase of approximately 3 percent. For the six months ended June 30, 2001, the Company’s domestic operations reported sales revenue of $91.7 million compared to $93.7 million for the same period in the prior year.

Despite record sales in the Company’s international operations, operating results were adversely effected as a result of regulations imposed by the Brazilian government to restrict the importation of nutritional supplements. Registrations for certain of the Company’s key products have been obtained, and importation has resumed. Brazil reported sales revenue for the six months ended June 30, 2001, of $7.0 million compared to $11.9 million for the same period in the prior year. Long term, the Company said that it expects Brazil to remain profitable, however, new regulations may continue to have a negative impact on sales revenue in Brazil.

The number of worldwide distributors was approximately 581,000 at June 30, 2001 compared to approximately 560,000 for the same period in the prior year. The number of worldwide managers also increased to approximately 18,900 from approximately 16,300 for the same period in the prior year.

"With the exception of Brazil, the trends in most of our markets were positive in the second quarter," said Daniel P. Howells, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Recent consolidation and changes in market trends within the natural supplement industry, particularly in the U.S., are beginning to have a favorable impact."

The Company continues to maintain its strong financial position. Working capital amounted to $40.5 million at June 30, 2001, and cash and cash equivalents increased to $31.0 million, up from $28.8 million at December 31, 2000. The increase in cash was achieved despite spending approximately $10.0 million for capital expenditures thus far this year of which $8.1 million was incurred for the Company’s current plant expansion. The total cost of this project is expected to be approximately $14.0 million of which $9.5 million had been paid as of June 30, 2001.

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

Neurochemical Research: Debuts Website

VANCOUVER, B.C., July 31, Market News -- Retailers, consumers and Neurochemical Research Corp.’s shareholders can now log on to for answers to all their questions about NRC’s products. NRC recently contracted with the web professionals NextWorld Media to bring its "Beyond Herbals -- The Next Generation of Supplements" product line to the public.

For all its visitors, the website offers a constantly expanding "Information Library" with clinical research data on NRC’s products. "Catapulted by the success of our QuitSystem product line in hospitals and clinics across the nation," says NRC President, Carol Slavin, "such as the Haight Ashbury Clinics in San Francisco, Porter Memorial in Indiana, and Glen Hill Memorial in Connecticut, we are now placing our products into mainstream distribution channels. We’re hoping our website will put us in contact with retailers and clients who wish to share in our commitment to helping people feel better naturally."

Slavin claims the NRC website is just the first step in a multi-media marketing push to include comprehensive distribution to medical, healthcare and pharmaceutical editors at key television, print media and trade publications. Neurochemical Research Corp. markets highly efficient, cutting-edge supplements, representing some of the most sophisticated on the market today. The complex combination of ingredients in each product is formulated with a base of the purest pharmaceutical grade- naturally produced-amino acids and other advanced nutrients.

Oncoherb: To Begin FDA Phase II Trial of Lung Cancer Drug

NEW YORK, July 23, PRNewswire -- Oncoherb, Inc. planned to announce details of its collaboration with a well-known U.S. cancer center in New York on an FDA Phase II human trial for a botanical lung cancer drug at a symposium on "Modernization of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)" on July 25.

The new drug is an herbal extract which has demonstrated efficacy against non-small-cell lung cancer in clinical trials conducted in China, where it is a prescription drug. Oncoherb expects to begin selling the new drug 31 months from the start of the clinical trials. Studies have indicated that the drug may also be useful in the treatment of other types of cancer, including gastric and cervical cancers and solid tumors. The preliminary findings of research currently being conducted at a U.S. research center support the results of the Chinese trials.

The new drug significantly improves the efficacy of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments in late-stage, non-small-cell lung cancer patients. It is far less toxic than existing chemotherapeutic agents and is more tolerable in patients for whom existing treatments are not appropriate. Patent applications for the new drug have been filed in the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, and Australia, and the first patent is expected to issue within two months in the United States.

The principal competitive advantage of the new drug is its low toxicity, which is unique among current cancer therapies available. Emerging therapies (such as retinoids) that promise to be less toxic than current therapies, are one to two decades away from being marketable. The new drug is poised to enter the market several years ahead of emerging treatments. In addition to its capsule form, Oncoherb is studying its other formulations, such as injectable or inhalable.

Sabinsa: ForsLean(R) Garners Best New Dietary Supplement of The Year Award

PISCATAWAY, N.J., July 17, PRNewswire -- Each year, the leading science minds in the nutraceuticals industry gather at the Nutracon conference to learn about new dietary supplement research and innovations. One of the highlights of the conference is the annual presentation of the NutrAward, where the attendees vote for the best new product based upon its scientific merits. Sabinsa was proud and pleased to be chosen by some of the most respected people in nutraceutical science as having the best new product of the year, ForsLean(R), at Nutracon in San Diego last week.

"To be honored with this award by our peers from the scientific, academic and business communities is significant," stated Mark C. Sysler, Sr. Executive Vice President, Sabinsa Corporation. "To have such a diverse, well informed group give us this recognition after reviewing the body of evidence we’ve developed over the past four years confirms our belief that Sabinsa really does have a winner in ForsLean."

ForsLean is a proprietary ingredient that has been patented for its use in promoting lean body mass. The ingredient’s weight management properties are a recent discovery, which is not a traditional usage of the herb from which it is derived. Sabinsa was granted US Patent # 5,804,596 for its use and composition in promotion of lean body mass, reduction of adipose tissue (fat) and weight loss. The dietary supplements containing ForsLean will have it listed by name on the label.

"ForsLean shifts the proportion between lean body mass and adipose, or fatty, tissue in favor of lean body mass, which improves overall health," explains Vladimir Badmaev, MD, Ph.D, Sabinsa Corporation’s Vice President, Scientific and Medical Affairs. "The effect can be measured by decreases in the waist hip ratio and the body mass index."

ForsLean has been tested by independent laboratories in the US for safety and toxicity (LD50 and AMES tests, respectively). At the dosage used in preliminary clinical trials, patients experienced no adverse side effects. Two additional clinical studies using ForsLean are now underway in the US and in Japan.

Voting criteria included:

-- Scientific Merit

-- Efficacy

-- Safety

-- Innovation

-- Market Potential

-- Does it advance the credibility of our industry?

Twinlab: Announces Appointment of a New Member to the Board of Directors

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y., July 5, Business Wire -- Twinlab Corporation today announced the appointment of a new outside Board member, Leonard Schutzman, age 54, increasing the size of Twinlab’s Board to its full complement of ten members.

Mr. Schutzman will also serve on Twinlab’s Audit Committee.

Mr. Schutzman is presently Chairman of the Board of Sky, a travel auction website. He also serves on a number of Boards of Directors including BML Pharmaceuticals and Resources Connection. From 1993 -- 2000 he served on the Board of Cendant Corporation and as chairman of its Audit Committee.

For twenty years, until April 1995, Mr. Schutzman held a variety of senior executive positions at PepsiCo, Inc., most recently Senior Vice President and Treasurer, where he was responsible for worldwide financing activities and the Diversified Consumer Products Company (the snack and restaurant company). He also directed the Company’s merger and acquisition program and has considerable international experience having served as Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer of Pepsi-Cola International. Prior to his company-wide responsibilities, Mr. Schutzman held positions at various PepsiCo operating units including: Pepsi Cola, Taco Bell and Frito Lay.

Commenting on the announcement, Ross Blechman, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Twinlab, stated, " Our Board is pleased to welcome Mr. Schutzman who will bring fresh skills and insight in the important areas of financial management, consumer products marketing and international expansion. He will be actively involved in the strategic direction of Twinlab, and we look forward to the many important contributions we anticipate he will make."

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, minerals, nutraceuticals, herbs and sports nutrition products.

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