Richters HerbLetter

Date: 97/06/09
1. Pesto! Home-grown Herbs Right on Balcony
2. Miracle Herbal Fish Cure Draws 300,000 Patients in India
3. Traditional Healers in Namibia Team Up with Government
4. United States’ FDA Proposes Ephedrine Crackdown
5. Restrictions on Goldenseal Trade Proposed
6. Medical Research Institute to Study Alternative Healthcare Products
7. Inadequate Laws Threaten Indian Medicinal Plants
8. Herb Business News

1. Pesto! Home-grown Herbs Right on Balcony
By Janice Mawhinney

TORONTO, May 23, Toronto Star -- If you love to cook with hone-grown herbs but your sole available gardening area is a balcony, there’s a good chance that you can grow own pesto ingredients all summer, according to a herb-growing expert.

"The first consideration is light," says Conrad Richter, vice-president of Richters Herbs in Goodwood, near Uxbridge. "You need at least four hours of sun a day -- and preferably more -- for herbs to do well. Many balconies do get this much sun."

Herb plants need to be watered regularly, but like to have the soil dry just a little between waterings.

Drainage and container size are also important, he adds.

The container needs holes on the bottom for good drainage and it helps to have a layer of stones or gravel at the bottom of the container.

To keep from having a container that is too large or too small for the health of the plant, Richter recommends growing herbs in individual pots with the pots set right into the soil of a window box. The roots grow right through the hole in the bottom of the pot and extend into the window box soil, he says.

This arrangement has the added advantage of allowing you to replace one or two of the herbs, if necessary, without disturbing the other plants.

Some herbs, like rosemary, will stay in the pot for years if they are brought in during the cold weather months, Richter notes. Others, such as basil, lose their productivity after three months or so.

Be sure to smell the leaves of each plant before buying potted herbs, he advises.

"There are some herbs sold in the Toronto market that don’t taste good," he says.

Richter says if he were planting a window box with herbs this summer, he would include basil, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, mint and parsley. If there were room, he would include chervil and savory.

And he would surely include a personal favorite and little known herb: lovage.

"I can’t understand why lovage isn’t used more," he says. "It has a rich, celery-like flavor. It’s very versatile and it’s widely used for soups and stews in central Europe. A few lovage leaves liven up a packaged soup no end."

2. Miracle Herbal Fish Cure Draws 300,000 Patients in India
By Syed Amin Jafri

HYDERABAD, India, June 8 (Reuter) - More than 300,000 people suffering from respiratory ailments converged on a small, tiled house in southern India on Sunday to consume a miracle cure of herbs and water stuffed inside a live fish, witnesses said.

Hyderabad’s Bathini family, which has been giving away the medicine for 152 years, started distributing the cure to patients from 5 a.m. (2330 GMT Saturday) during the auspicious Mrigasira solar phase, which occurs once a year for two days.

For patients to be cured, they must buy a two-inch-long fish, known locally as Murrel, and swallow it live after the Bathinis stuff their secret herbal mixture inside its mouth.

"We consider the Bathini Goud brothers’ ancestral home as a temple and the Bathini Goud brothers avatars (incarnations) of our gods," said Ram Ratan, a farm worker from central India who says he was cured by the treatment.

People who have consumed it say the fish helps clear the patient’s food pipe as it makes its way down to the stomach, and later releases the medicine. It survives for about 15 minutes inside the body, clearing accumulated phlegm as it flaps about.

Legend has it that a saint gave the wonder cure in 1845 to Bathini Veeranna Goud, a farmer known for his piety and generosity, and asked him to treat all who came to him free of cost.

"The saint had blessed the well at our house and our family has since been using water from the well for the preparation of the herbal medicine," one of his five great-grandsons, Bathini Harinath Goud, told Reuters.

On Sunday, 250 members of the family manned 25 counters, administering the medicine as serpentine queues formed at dawn in the summer heat outside their home in Hyderabad’s congested Dood Bowli neighbourhood.

The Bathinis said they expected some 500,000 patients and had prepared about nearly 200 kg (90 lb) of medicine. Complete treatment requires an annual dosage for three years.

The Indian Railways ran three special trains to carry patients from all over India to Hyderabad. Domestic carrier Indian Airlines flew an "asthma special" from New Delhi.

Sardar Manjeet Singh, a 44-year-old businessman from the northern state of Punjab, said he had suffered from asthma for 20 years before coming to the Bathinis.

"I used allopathic and other medicines but to no avail," he told Reuters. "I took the fish medicine and felt considerable relief, so I am back for the rest of the three-year course."

The Andhra Pradesh state fisheries department opened dozens of special counters where patients could buy the Murrel fish for about five rupees (13 cents) each -- only the herbal mixture is free.

The local government opened temporary parking lots in neighbouring areas and made special arrangements for drinking water and garbage clearance. Two medical teams, two ambulances and a fire tender were also kept on alert to attend to any emergencies. ($1-38.5 rupees).

3. Traditional Healers in Namibia Team Up with Government
By Absalom Shigwedha

WINDHOEK, (June 5) AIA/GIN - Traditional healers are flourishing in Namibia with the full support and recognition of the government, which helped establish the Namibia Eagle Traditional Healers Association.

Some of the association’s functions include keeping records of all registered traditional healers in the country, organizing workshops and seminars for traditional healers and collecting traditional medicines for research.

It is also being called on to scout for potential traditional healers and contribute to plans for development and promotion of traditional practice as well as acting as a link with scientific researchers.

Formed in 1990, the association now has more than 4,000 registered members, says Dr. Eliphas Iyenda, its president.

Dr. Iyenda says that although some people continue to ignore the role played by traditional healers, they are as important to the health sector as doctors.

"What those doctors in hospitals are doing is the same job we are doing. Sometimes people are even discharged from hospitals with diseases and they come to us and are treated."

Similarly, he says, traditional healers also send their patients to hospitals if they are unable to treat them. "So we are really working together with the Ministry of Health. Our association is fully recognized by the government and we are playing a very important role in primary health care."

However the association does have some problems. Iyenda says despite being affiliated to the Ministry of Health, there is a lack of coordination because there are no clear regulations guiding the practice of traditional medicine.

"The lack of a properly organized pharmacological research institute means that the herbs collected and submitted are not yet analyzed. Lack of transport has also obstructed the research unit regarding the collection of herbs from rural based healers," says a spokesman for the association.

Veronica Shikombera, 40, who operates from her house 60 km north of Windhoek, became a traditional healer when she was 18, having been taught by her father. "Healing has been in our family for generations. When a child is born, the elders have a way of seeing to it that he or she will carry on with the tradition," she says.

According to Shikombera, her day starts as early as 5 am and on average, she says she treats about 15 patients a day. The most common ailments she treats are infertility, both in men and women, swollen legs, tuberculosis, constipation, and impotence.

"To treat infertility in women, it normally takes me about a year of massage and giving herbs before the womb is fully ready for conception," she says. The treatment also involves a traditional enema. Infertility, she says, is usually caused by a womb that is "upside down."

But some people in the country still have mixed feelings about traditional healers. "I can only go to a traditional healer if I know somebody who has been helped by them," says Oudrey Madisson.

The director of the Southern Regional Health Directorate in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jack Fries says no traditional healers have registered with the ministry. "That is not to say that the Ministry does not want to work with traditional healers. We are still in the process of working things out. Traditional healers should be regarded as people who have a role to play," he said.

At a health workshop recently, Health Minister Dr. Libertine Amathila said some traditional healers in Uganda have discovered a drug which they claim can kill the HIV virus. However, she said whatever is found in Africa is usually not taken seriously. "Also people from the west have a tendency to come to Africa, take what the Africans have done themselves, give it their name and claim it as theirs," she said.

4. United States’ FDA Proposes Ephedrine Crackdown

WASHINGTON, June 2, AP -- After at least 17 deaths and 800 illnesses linked to ephedrine-laced dietary supplements, the government said Monday it will crack down on the pills, tablets and teas that promise to help people lose weight, build muscle and feel more energetic.

The Food and Drug Administration plans to dramatically cut the dose of the herbal stimulant that can be put into any dietary supplement, and to ban the marketing of ephedrine-containing products as weight-loss or bodybuilding agents.

In addition, many of the supplements would bear warnings that too much of the product can kill, the FDA announced.

No one with heart disease, high blood pressure or neurologic disorders should use ephedrine supplements because the amphetamine-like stimulant can cause heart attack, stroke, seizure or death, the FDA said.

But the FDA found case after case of previously healthy young people who were injured after taking ephedrine supplements, so it proposed new regulations Monday that would affect how dozens of brands are manufactured and marketed.

"Consumers should be aware that just because a product is labeled `natural’ or from an herbal source, it is not guaranteed to be safe," said Dr. Michael Friedman, FDA’s acting commissioner.

The FDA didn’t go as far as Florida and New York, which banned ephedrine supplements after pills with such names as Herbal Ecstacy and Ultimate Xphoria promised a "natural high." The bans came when a 20-year-old college student died after taking Ultimate Xphoria last year.

The FDA already had moved to stop companies from promoting supplements as alternatives to illegal drugs. But Monday’s proposals cover traditional dietary supplements sold in health-food shops, convenience stores and gyms.

"The industry recognizes that the safety issues surrounding ephedra need to be effectively addressed," acknowledged the Council for Responsible Nutrition. However, the industry group said some of the proposals go beyond its own recommendations and will need further evaluation.

Ephedrine has a long history of safety, countered Nutri/System Inc., the weight-loss chain that sells "herbal phen-fen," a supplement alternative to the diet pill phen-fen. Nutri/System’s pill, to be taken daily, contains 40 milligrams of ephedrine, above the 24-milligram dose the FDA set Monday as safe.

"Our clients like it. We have had no problems," said Nutri/System spokesman Joseph DiBartolomeo.

But to back its case, the FDA detailed how a previously healthy 23-year-old Boston college student used an ephedrine-containing "protein drink" for bodybuilding for two years. One day he dropped dead because, the coroner ruled, the drink killed portions of his heart.

A 35-year-old woman had a heart attack after using ephedrine-containing pills for about 11 days, and a 35-year-old man took just five capsules before a workout and had a heart attack, the FDA added.

Ephedrine also sells under the names Ma huang, Chinese ephedra and epitonin. It is a compound extracted from plants and used for centuries by Chinese practitioners as a medicine.

Long controversial, ephedrine is a central ingredient in the illegal drug methamphetamine or speed. The FDA does allow controlled, pure doses in certain medicines that treat asthma.

But a 1994 law forbids the FDA to control dietary supplements unless a particular one proves dangerous. Monday, the FDA called ephedrine supplements dangerous, and proposed:

--Banning supplements with more than 8 milligrams of ephedrine or related alkaloids per serving, and setting the maximum daily dose at 24 milligrams. An FDA survey last year uncovered some supplements that called for users to ingest up to 109 milligrams in a single sitting.

--Prohibiting use of ephedrine products for more than seven days. That would essentially ban ephedrine weight-loss or bodybuilding supplements, because getting those purported health effects requires weeks of use.

--Requiring many supplements to bear the warning: "Taking more than the recommended serving may result in heart attack, stroke, seizure or death."

--Banning caffeine or other stimulants in combination with ephedrine.

The proposal is open for public comment through Aug. 18, when the FDA will develop a final regulation.

5. Restrictions on Goldenseal Trade Proposed

WASHINGTON, June 3, AP [Excerpt] -- The high price of caviar, the increasing popularity of herbal medicines and the huge markup for tropical birds are putting severe pressure on some of the world’s rarest species.

And millions of consumers, sometimes without being aware of it, are contributing to the decline of rare mammals, fish and plants, said Ginette Hemley, the World Wildlife Fund’s policy director for international wildlife.

In a report released today for the 10th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the wildlife preservation group lists 10 "most wanted" species -- most wanted by consumers whose tastes lean towards the exotic.

"Consumers can play a role, not just governments," Hemley said in an interview. "They can directly affect the survival by choices made in the marketplace for everything from food to furniture."

The trade in endangered wildlife, much of it in violation of international agreements, adds up to billions of dollars because some of the products are incredibly expensive, she said.

Caviar from beluga sturgeon, which must be killed to harvest their eggs, can sell for more than $80 an ounce. A rare green-cheeked Amazon parrot, which a trapper may sell for $2, can bring $500 in a U.S. pet store. And a single Asian tiger skeleton can yield more profit than some Asians earn in a decade.

CITES’ 136 member governments are meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, next week to tackle several wildlife issues, including proposals to reopen international trade in ivory and whale meat. The treaty went into force in 1975 to control wildlife trade and protect endangered species.

World Wildlife and other nongovernment organizations participate in CITES as nonvoting members.

The organization urges consumers to investigate the source of products and reject those that involve the destruction of rare wildlife.

In addition to the beluga sturgeon, the green-checked parrot and the Asian tiger, the 10 most-wanted list includes ... Goldenseal, a perennial herb gathered in North American hardwood forests and used to treat ailments ranging from hay fever to hemorrhoids, in a market that has grown 30 percent in the last two years...

6. Medical Research Institute to Study Alternative Healthcare Products
WASHINGTON, June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Marc S. Micozzi, M.D., Ph.D, one of the nation’s leading research physicians in wellness and natural medicine, and Alban Bacchus, Ph.D., a research scientist, educator and wellness program manager, have consolidated their medical research firm with Complete Wellness Centers, Inc. (Nasdaq: CMWL), to create a new subsidiary, Complete Wellness Research Institute, Inc. Dr. Micozzi will serve as Co-Chairman and Dr. Bacchus will serve as President.

Complete Wellness Research Institute, Inc. is the Contract Research Organization (CRO) formed to offer natural products manufacturers medically qualified studies of their products in a clinical observation setting. The studies will also identify wellness products to be introduced for use in Complete Wellness Medical Centers, the first nationwide network of brand name medical centers. Research findings will also provide consumers with the facts about new wellness or complementary medicine products, which will include dietary supplements, natural hygiene products and herbal remedies.

Drs. Micozzi and Bacchus bring to with them Complete Wellness Research Institute, Inc. two existing research contracts with Natural Science Corporation of America, Encino, CA and Advanced Health Products, Cleveland, OH.

"Under the leadership of Dr. Micozzi and Dr. Bacchus, we expect Complete Wellness Research Institute Inc. to become an industry leader in the study of complementary and natural healthcare products," said Tom McMillen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Complete Wellness Centers, Inc. "Indeed, we intend that the Complete Wellness Research Institute Inc. ‘seal’ will become natural medicine’s standard of excellence. Complete Wellness Centers Inc., is fortunate to have their experience and expertise and I am pleased that we have added this CRO at a time when market supportive research is an imperative."

Dr. Micozzi worked with former surgeon general C. Everett Koop and is the founding director of the National Museum of Health and Medicine and a Distinguished Scientist with the American Registry of Pathology in Washington, DC. He was also a Senior Investigator at the National Cancer Institute and served as an Adjunct Professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He is presently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Dr. Micozzi has published several books and edited volumes on diet and nutrition, cancer prevention research, medical anthropology and complementary therapies in medicine. His most recent book is entitled, Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the first textbook on this subject for physicians, medical students and health care professionals.

Dr. Bacchus was President of Bacchus & Associates, Inc., a firm created to market employee health promotion both in the government and the private sector. Previously, he worked with Garcia-Mispireta Cardiac Surgery Group, Washington, DC, and taught at the University of Maryland. His research experience includes work at the University of Virginia and the Michigan State University.

Complete Wellness Centers develops multi-disciplinary medical clinics that offer, at one location traditional healthcare providers, such as physicians and physical therapists, and alternative healthcare providers such as chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists. Complete Wellness Centers, Inc. currently manages or has contracts to manage 87 wellness centers in 19 states.

7. Inadequate Laws Threaten Indian Medicinal Plants
NEW DELHI, June 2, XINHUA -- Inadequate conservation laws are threatening the centuries-old knowledge and immense wealth of medicinal plants in India, today’s "The Statesman" quoted a recently released study paper as saying.

In a paper on medicinal plants and the law in India, Ms. Sarbani Sarkar from the Center for Environmental Law, has expressed her concern over the creation of "genetic" and "cultural" universals which would undermine the relationship that existed between men, animals and plants.

India is floristically one of the richest countries in the world. A survey spread over 100 years, covering only 40 percent of the total geographic area, shows that India has at least 45,000 species of plants, both agricultural and medicinal.

The bulk of the country’s population meets its primary health care from such plants. Between 5,000 and 7,000 species of flora in India are known to be used for medicinal purposes, she said in the paper.

About 80 percent of the world’s plant genetic wealth is in the tropics and 50 percent of it is in India, China and Malaysia, but this arboreal wealth is fast depleting. Some scientists have said that the earth is losing 50 species a day and at the end of the century, half a million of the planet’s known species would become extinct.

To save the country from this situation, what is needed is an exclusive act for the protection of medicinal plants as also stringent conservation laws to combat the intellectual property rights regime and the mechanism of international trade, she stressed.

8. Herb Business News
Rexall Sundown: New and Expanded Distribution

BOCA RATON, Fla., June 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Rexall Sundown, Inc. (Nasdaq: RXSD) today announced that following the consolidation of Thrift, Fay’s and Kerr Drug Stores into the Eckerd Corporation, Sundown Vitamins(R) has reached a revised agreement for distribution of vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal products throughout the entire 2,700 store chain. Sundown Vitamins is the flagship brand of Rexall Sundown. The new agreement will give Sundown distribution in more than 1,000 additional outlets throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the United States. Distribution is expected to be completed by Fall 1997.

Rexall Sundown also announced it will shortly commence chainwide distribution of its Sundown brand in the 1,200 store Winn-Dixie supermarket chain.

Sundown Vitamins are sold throughout the world in leading food, drug and mass merchandiser retail outlets. Rexall Sundown, Inc. develops, manufactures and distributes vitamins, nutritional supplements and consumer health products.

Forward-looking statements in this release are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties detailed in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Superior Supplements: Manufacturing Facility Now Operational

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 3, 1997--Superior Supplements, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: SPSU and SPSUU) announced today that its manufacturing facility is now fully operational.

The Company also said that it projects sales for the quarter ended June 30, 1997 to be approximately $2,000,000. More importantly, of these sales, approximately 35 percent will be from new customers. Sales last year for the period April 24, 1996 through June 30, 1996, were $860,000.

Superior Supplements, Inc., a Delaware corporation, is engaged in the development, manufacturing, marketing and sale of dietary supplements including vitamins, minerals, herb and specialty nutritional supplements, in bulk tablet, capsule and powder form.

Twinlab: New Director of International Sales

RONKONKOMA, N.Y., June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Twinlab Corporation (Nasdaq: TWLB) announced today the appointment of Randolph S. Hull, 45, to the position of Director of International Sales. Mr. Hull will assume responsibility for developing and managing the Company’s international expansion.

Mr. Hull joins Twinlab Corporation after serving as Area Director of Latin American Operations for Del Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: DLI), a manufacturer of cosmetics and proprietary pharmaceuticals headquartered in Plainview, NY. Since June of 1995, he has been responsible for identifying, developing and establishing business for Del Laboratories’ over-the-counter products in Latin America. From 1986 to 1995, Mr. Hull held various marketing and management positions with Block Drug Company, Inc., and most recently, served as the Area Director of the Caribbean and Central America. Prior to that, he had 10 years of international sales experience with Colgate-Palmolive Company and Thomas J. Lipton, Inc. Mr. Hull received his B.S. in 1974 from the University of Santa Clara in Santa Clara, CA.

Commenting on the appointment, Ross Blechman, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Twinlab Corporation stated, "As we grow our business, international opportunities are becoming increasingly important. A component of our strategy is the development of new client relationships overseas. We believe that providing the same level and quality of service to this expanding segment of the market will require strong, dedicated management. Randolph Hull’s extensive international experience, coupled with his knowledge of the pharmaceutical and retail drug industries, should be of significant value to us as we continue to implement our strategy to expand our operations globally."

Twinlab Corporation, headquartered in Ronkonkoma, NY markets over 800 fine nutritional products including a complete line of vitamins, minerals and nutraceuticals, antioxidants, fish and marine oils and sports nutrition supplements through its TWINLAB Division; a full line of herbs and phytonutrients through its Nature’s Herbs Division; and over 100 herbal teas through its Alvita Herbal Teas Division. Twinlab Corporation also publishes "All Natural Muscular Development," a sports and fitness magazine, and health and fitness related books through its publishing subsidiary, Advanced Research Press, Inc.

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