Richters HerbLetter

Date: 2000/07/30
1. "Dr. Oregano" Visits Community Devastated by Contaminated Water
2. Dietary Herbs May Have Contaminated Animal Tissue
3. British Health Department Investigates Controversal Ugandan AIDS Cure
4. Runner Cleared of Doping Charges After Researchers Find Dietary Supplements Can Trigger Positive Steroid Test Result
5. Several Countries Issue Restrictions on St. John’s wort
6. Lawsuits Filed against Makers of Ephedra Products
7. Rexall Sundown Sued by U.S. FTC over Herbal Cellulite Product Claims
8. Rexall Sundown To Defend Against FTC Action
9. Group Denounces Herbal Functional Food Products
10. American Mayapple Yields Anti-Cancer Extract
11. Clinical Study Underway on Benefits of Horny Goat Weed Herbal Sexual Enhancement Supplement
12. Treating Mental Illness Without Drugs
13. Biotech Firm Finds New Use for Copper Mine; Grows Genetically Engineered Tobacco Plants for Use in Cancer Treatment
14. New Technologies for Plant-based Medicines
15. India Introduces Regulations for Making Traditional Medicines
16. Indian Government Measures to Boost Herbal Exports
17. Call for Brazil-India Cooperation in Drugs and Medicinal Plants
18. Zimbabwean Traditional Herbal Care Can Reverse AIDS Symptoms
19. Tibetan Medicine Focus of International Symposium
20. Experts Appraise Tibetan Medicine
21. Tibetan Medicine Producers Exploring Overseas Markets
22. Lavender Boom Means Big Business
23. Herb Business News

1. "Dr. Oregano" Visits Community Devastated by Contaminated Water
By Colin Freeze and Krista Foss

WALKERTON, Ont. and TORONTO, June 2, Toronto Globe and Mail -- The self-styled "Dr. Oregano" says the cure for water woes is in the cupboards of the people of Walkerton.

Cass Ingram’s recent visit to the devastated Southwestern Ontario farming community is a new twist on a story that has been told for centuries -- an outsider captivates a segment of townspeople with seemingly ludicrous claims about a cure-all elixir.

But Mr. Ingram did not arrive on a horse and cart bearing his painted logo. Rather, he has flown most of the way from Chicago, thanks to Purity Life Health Products Ltd., the Acton, Ont.-based distributor of Oil of Oregano.

If you didn’t catch the self-described "national expert on preventative medicine" at his appearance in the Walkerton Knights of Columbus hall this week, you may know him from his Web site, infomercials, radio appearances or a dozen or so books he’s penned, such as "The Cure is in the Cupboard."

Mr. Ingram practises osteopathy, an alternative form of medicine akin to naturopathic medicine, but which focuses more of its training on the musculoskeletal system.

"This meeting could save your life," read the posters advertising Wednesday night’s event in town. "Kill E. coli without causing side effects."

Most residents didn’t know, care, or take the meeting seriously.

Still, about 250 of the town’s 4,800 residents showed up. They got free vials pungently reminiscent of spaghetti sauce. Some even bought Mr. Ingram’s books.

Yesterday, Mr. Ingram said he was happy to have restored a bit of hope in this town that has been swept by an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, which can cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and kidney failure and can result in death.

"They were enthused to know they could have something in hand with the desperation and the fear that they have," Mr. Ingram added. "I’m telling you that if oregano oil had been in the hospitals, no one would have died."

Oregano, traditionally used to scent soaps and flavour sausages, belongs to the mint family and has been embraced by alternative-health devotees for an array of reputedly therapeutic properties.

They believe the herb is a powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent. But the evidence to support those beliefs is weak, according to experts.

Dr. Miguel Valvano, director of the division of microbiology at the University of Western Ontario, a pediatrician and an expert on E. coli, doesn’t support the claims. "I wouldn’t try anything like that."

Oregano oil is generally a concentrated extract and it could contain a high level of plant phenols. Consuming high doses over a long time may result in kidney and liver damage, two organs which are already at risk with an E. coli infection.

"You have to be careful and cautious with the use of anything with phenols," said Scott Clack, a naturopath and faculty member at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto. "My sense is that there isn’t any valuable or duplicated double-blind studies that would reinforce the use of oregano oil alone."

But Mr. Ingram says he believes that Oil of Oregano, in addition to fighting E. coli, can also heal bruises, headaches, bring people out of comas, may have cancer-fighting properties and in a single drop can kill all the bacteria in a sink full of sewage water.

Despite all that power, it could never harm a human, he says.

"You know what the big side effect is? You may get shocked and get well," he said.

If Mr. Ingram had his way, he would give each of the doctors fighting E. coli a bottle a Oil of Oregano, which he claims saved his own life. He would put the extract in the water supply and distribute it in hospitals.

Mr. Ingram said he’s even twice called Dr. Murray McQuigge, the medical officer of health for Grey-Bruce, but there have been no call backs.

2. Dietary Herbs May Have Contaminated Animal Tissue
By Gene Emery

BOSTON, July 26, Reuters -- Ever wonder what you are taking when you see "thymus" listed as an ingredient on the label of your dietary or herbal supplement? It might be thyme or -- it might be lymph tissue from a cow. And it may not be the only raw animal meat hidden in there.

Dr. Scott A. Norton, a Maryland dermatologist, wrote in a letter to the editor in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine that because these "natural" supplements are essentially unregulated by the federal government, many contain a variety of animal tissues that could spread illness such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), otherwise known as mad cow disease.

Eating meat from an animal with the disease is believed by scientists to cause a new form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a similar fatal brain-wasting affliction that has killed more than 50 people in Britain. No case of BSE has ever been found in the United States.

"Organs you can never eat for food can be found raw in dietary supplements," Norton told Reuters in an interview.

The Council on Responsible Nutrition, the lobby for the supplement industry, said through a spokesman that they could not comment without reading the letter.

Norton, who is also a botanist, said he stumbled onto the problem while visiting a health food store to show his children how plants can be used as medicines. "I was struck by how many products contained raw animals parts. One product had 17 bovine (cow) organs, including many I would choose not to eat, such as brains and testicles."

And he found that those ingredients were often listed in a way that made it difficult for people to understand what they were taking. The product labels, he said, "often obscure the fact that animal tissues are present."

"I saw two jars labeled ‘thymus’ on the shelf side by side," he recalled. One contained the herb thyme. The other contained lymph tissue from a cow, tissue that transmits the particles responsible for deadly mad cow disease.

Because the health food industry has gotten Congress to exempt it from regulations for product safety and effectiveness, "there is no mechanism to regulate where that tissue comes from. It could from a horse or a cow. You could get cow brains from England (which had a mad cow disease outbreak) and the label would make it look like herbal medicine," Norton warned.

The doctor said the U.S. Department of Agriculture cannot block the importation of potentially diseased tissues "if they are intended for use in dietary supplements," even though he said the USDA considers most cow organs found in dietary supplements to be susceptible to contamination by mad cow disease.

And because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also forbidden from preventing the use of high-risk animal tissues in dietary supplements, "the health food industry has no restrictions on the source of animal tissues used in their products," Norton said in his letter.

In addition to people concerned about disease, "vegetarians, persons who have religious restrictions regarding the consumption of meat, and those who find kibbled cow repugnant will also value this information," Norton said.

The warning is the latest from doctors concerned that consumers may be risking serious medical problems from unregulated dietary supplements if they assume that the products are safe because they are labeled "all natural."

Last month, researchers reported in the Journal on the case of a health food product that turned out to contain a Chinese herb that causes kidney failure and eventually leads to tumours in the kidney and urinary tract.

The herb, Aristolochia fangchi, is often substituted for another herb Stephania tetrandra. It was banned in Belgium in the 1990s but continues to be available in the United States.

3. British Health Department Investigates Controversal Ugandan AIDS Cure
By Joachim Buwembo

LONDON, July 25, New Vision -- The British Health Department is to investigate Ugandan Dr Charles Ssali (above) who has taken the country by storm with his controversial Mariandina pills.

Ssali, whose alleged AIDS cure was delicenced by Uganda’s National Drug Authority, has toured British towns and addressed hundreds of people. But there is a likelihood that his promotions violate the British Medicines Act.

This time he is marketing Mariandina as a cure for ailments common in Britain, including breast cancer, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, depression, diabetes, sickle cell, heart and kidney diseases and Aids. He has addressed audiences in London, Leeds, Birmingham and Bradford. His collaborators describe him at the conferences as the most important doctor in the world for his Aids "cure".

Ssali’s activities and the ban on his drugs in Uganda were, however, exposed on Sunday by News of the World, alerting the Medicine Controls Agency.

In the July 23 issue, the newspaper said health officials had launched a probe into Ssali claims.

The paper said, "Ugandan Dr Charles Ssali has been telling packed meetings all over Britain that people who use his potions of herbs, vitamins, minerals and natural elements, will recover from a wide range of deadly diseases and serious conditions.

"But News of the World can reveal that Ssali has no medical evidence to support his wild claims and was actually banned from selling the portion - called Mariandina - in his own country.

The paper quoted a Dr Hilary Jones as saying, "There is not a shred of evidence to support Ssali’s claims. The minerals and vitamins he says we should take are found in most people’s diets. I’d suggest eating a bowl of cereal instead of buying his product."

Although hundreds have turned up for Ssali’s presentations, local medics have described his claims as dangerous. In particular, they are incensed by his claim that diabetes sufferers will no longer need to take insulin if they take Mariandina. A doctor described Ssali’s literature as nonsense.

Ssali, who is on a month-long tour of Britain to promote his pill, worked in the UK two decades ago as an ear, nose and throat practitioner.

He plans to market Mariandina in health shops here and on the internet.

In his bid to persuade Britons to switch from conventional medicine to Mariandina, Ssali keeps repeating the argument he has often made in Uganda that Western pharmaceutical companies are frustrating his "momentous discovery" for fear that it will throw their expensive drugs out of the market.

4. Runner Cleared of Doping Charges After Researchers Find Dietary Supplements Can Trigger Positive Steroid Test Result
LONDON, July 25, AP -- British 400-meter runner Mark Richardson was cleared of using performance-enhancing drugs Tuesday after researchers concluded dietary supplements can trigger positive results for the steroid nandrolone.

The ruling by the national track organization frees Richardson to compete in the British trials leading to the Sydney Olympics. However, the sport’s world governing body, the International Amateur Athletic Federation, can intervene.

Richardson is one of the few men to beat 400-meter world-record holder Michael Johnson. He has always maintained his innocence and continued training in the belief he would cleared.

"I am delighted to be cleared of all charges and am looking forward to competing this summer, hopefully at the Olympic Games in Sydney," said Richardson, who plans to make his first appearance at the Aug. 5 British Grand Prix at Crystal Palace.

IAAF spokesman Giorgio Reineri said from Monaco that the IAAF will study the ruling and decide whether to contest it. The IAAF has the power to suspend Richardson and submit the case to its arbitration panel.

UK Athletics chief executive David Moorcroft said he "would like the IAAF to think very seriously about the implications of not allowing Mark to compete again. To the panel, the evidence was compelling."

UK Athletics ruled that Richardson had not committed an offense when he failed his drug test in October. The decision was based on evidence presented by researchers who investigated possible causes for the many positive nandrolone cases.

"We conclude that a combination of exercise and dietary supplements, none of which appears to contain a prohibited substance, can result in a positive nandrolone finding," the research panel said.

The researchers, based at Aberdeen University in Scotland, said athletes who have tested positive for nandrolone have tested negative in a second control carried out within a few weeks, suggesting that injection of the steroid is unlikely.

The finding most likely will pressure the IAAF and other sports bodies to review their policy on nandrolone sanctions.

Richardson, last year’s leading European 400-meter runner, can now compete in Britian’s Olympic trials next month, unless the IAAF steps in.

Last week, Richardson’s training partner Mark Hylton was cleared of a similar nandrolone charge following an alleged error during testing.

In similar cases involving British athletes, former 100-meter Olympic and world champion Linford Christie, as well as European 200 champion Doug Walker and hurdler Gary Cadogan, all tested positive for nandrolone more than a year ago. They were all cleared by UK Athletics, only to be later suspended by the IAAF, which referred their cases to arbitration.

Walker is currently challenging the IAAF’s right to suspend him from competition after having already been cleared by the British federation. Walker’s case is being heard in court in London this week.

Nandrolone is a steroid that has been available for decades and is easily detectable in standard urine tests.

In the past year, there have been 343 positive cases across all sports. That prompted the IAAF to conduct research to determine whether food supplements or herbal preparations can lead to positive drug tests.

5. Several Countries Issue Restrictions on St. John’s wort
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., July 7, National Nutritional Foods Assocition -- According to the International Alliance of Dietary Supplement Associations (IADSA), several countries including Japan, the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Canada have adopted regulations governing the labeling and sale of St. John’s wort products. IADSA also reports that the French Health Ministry has banned the sale of food products and supplements containing St. John’s wort.

These recent actions are in response to the U.S. public health advisory that was issued February 14 by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (NNFA Fax Update, February 14, 2000). The advisory reported that St. John’s wort when taken in combination with indinavir, a protease inhibitor used to treat HIV infections, substantially decreased indinavir plasma concentrations. The FDA had then warned against concomitant use of St. John’s wort with HIV protease inhibitors and possibly other drugs, which are similarly metabolized by the body.

The French Health Ministry has decided that all food products and supplements containing St. John’s wort are to be removed from the market as soon as possible. The decision comes on the heels of a report issued by the French Health Product Safety Agency (Agence de Securite Sanitaire des Produits de Sante). The report discusses the herb’s interactions with specific medications including indinavir and oral contraceptives and offers instructions for doctors to advise their patients of these interactions.

"We are working closely with IADSA officials as we have several concerns especially with regard to the ban of St. John’s wort products in France and will keep our members apprised of any new developments," said David Seckman, NNFA’s executive director and CEO. "In the meantime, NNFA member suppliers of St. John’s wort products should consider evaluating their product labeling especially if they market their products to Japan, Canada, and the U.K."

IADSA reports that Japan and the U.K. have issued decisions relating to the labeling of St. John’s wort products. Canadian health authorities recently issued a health advisory to health care professionals, health food stores and associations. It is expected that manufacturers of St. John’s wort products will have to add cautionary language to their labels of products, however, according to IADSA, the Canadian Health Food Association and Canadian health authorities are still deciding on specific language for the label.

6. Lawsuits Filed against Makers of Ephedra Products
NEW YORK, July 23, Dow Jones -- Many suits have been filed in the U.S. against makers of ephedra, derived from the Chinese herb ma huang and marketed under the names Metabolife 356, Ripped Fuel, Ultimate Orange and Hydroxycut, the Washington Post reported in its Sunday edition.

The Food and Drug Administration has been unable to impose restrictions on ephedra, and as a result, the Post reported, the courts have become the main battlefield.

The FDA on Aug. 8 will hold a hearing to discuss reports of illness and death related to the drug, the Post reported.

7. Rexall Sundown Sued by U.S. FTC over Herbal Cellulite Product Claims
WASHINGTON, July 21, M2 Communications -- The United States Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit in federal district court charging Rexall Sundown, Inc. with making false and unsubstantiated claims while marketing its dietary supplement, Cellasene, as a purported cellulite treatment. In its advertisements, Rexall Sundown made statements such as, "Unlike massages and creams, Cellasene works from within, nutritionally, to help eliminate cellulite at its source." The FTC alleges that through statements such as Cellasene "fights cellulite from the inside," "helps eliminate cellulite" and "The One That Works," Rexall made unsubstantiated claims that Cellasene eliminates or substantially reduces cellulite. The company also falsely represented that it had clinical evidence establishing Cellasene’s efficacy, the FTC alleges. The Commission is seeking a permanent injunction to prohibit Rexall Sundown from making false and unsubstantiated claims in the future and ordering the company to pay monetary redress.

Cellulite is a condition that affects many adult women. Cellasene, which is a softgel tablet that contains the herbal ingredients ginkgo biloba, bladderwrack extract, sweet clover extract and grape seed extract, is different from most other cellulite treatments marketed in the past because it is ingested rather than applied topically.

"Consumers depend on product advertising for accurate information," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. "In this case, they were led to believe that a dietary supplement would reduce or eliminate cellulite, and they shelled out serious money in good faith for a product that claimed to do just that. Breaking a compact with consumers through false and misleading advertising is no way to do business." Rexall Sundown, based in Boca Raton, Florida, manufacturers and markets a variety of nutritional supplements and consumer health products. In May, Rexall announced that it was being acquired by the Dutch conglomerate Royal Numico NV for $1.8 billion. According to the FTC’s complaint, Rexall advertised and sold Cellasene to consumers throughout the United States. Rexall advertised Cellasene in major newspapers including The Washington Post and USA Today.

The company also advertised Cellasene in magazines, on the Internet, on television and radio, and through free standing inserts.

Rexall recommends that consumers take three Cellasene tablets a day for eight weeks, and then a maintenance dose of one tablet a day for the next eight weeks. The initial eight week regimen costs consumers about $180 - $240. According to press reports, total sales for Cellasene in 1999 were about $54 million.

The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, in Fort Lauderdale, on July 19, 2000.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.

8. Rexall Sundown To Defend Against FTC Action
BOCA RATON, Fla., July 20, PRNewswire -- Rexall Sundown, Inc. said today it will vigorously defend the truthfulness of its claims in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit against the Company’s advertising for Cellasene, an herbal dietary supplement, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

"The Commission’s action completely ignores the sound scientific research into the effectiveness of Cellasene," said Rexall Sundown’s Debbie DeSantis, R. Ph., Senior Vice President, Product Development. "Cellasene was designed and formulated by one of the world’s leading herbal/pharmaceutical extract companies with foremost expertise in cellulite research. We stand strongly behind the product and its value to our customers," she said.

Prior to its introduction in the United States, Cellasene was reviewed in two university clinical studies conducted in Italy by Dr. Enzo Berardesca, an internationally renowned expert in cellulite research, and found to be effective in reducing cellulite. Ongoing research in France has provided further substantiation, and research is continuing in several countries. Before the Company introduced the product, the Company’s scientific experts reviewed all the available data and information, including the Italian studies, and concluded that they substantiated the claims for the product. Independent U.S. experts, including Peter Pugliese, M.D., a uniquely experienced researcher in cellulite physiology and testing, confirmed that the claims are substantiated.

According to Ms. DeSantis, Cellasene has been safely and beneficially used in Europe for more than six years with hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers and is the best-selling ingestible product for cellulite in sixteen countries. She said the Company’s marketing efforts in the U.S. are truthful and in compliance with the law. "Our claims are consistent with the research which shows that the product formulation in Cellasene is effective in helping to reduce cellulite," DeSantis stated.

"While the Company recognizes the FTC’s right to review advertisements, we have tried on numerous occasions to have our experts and scientists meet with whomever the FTC’s staff is relying upon to address the staff’s concerns. We offered to make the scientists who developed, clinically tested, and reviewed the product available to meet with the FTC’s reviewers to answer any questions and address outstanding issues. However, the FTC has shown no interest in allowing any scientific dialogue among government and industry experts," said DeSantis. "We are fully prepared to present our scientific substantiation in court and welcome the opportunity to finally be able to examine the FTC’s witnesses and objections.

"As one of the nation’s largest marketers of dietary supplements, we are completely committed to fair and accurate advertising. The record will show that we have met those standards in our marketing of Cellasene, and we are fully confident that this will be borne out in any proceedings before the court."

Rexall Sundown, Inc. develops, manufactures, markets and sells vitamins, herbals, nutritional supplements and other consumer health products. The Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Numico, N.V., a world leader in specialized nutrition, including infant formula, clinical nutrition and nutritional supplements, available under such well-known brands as Sundown, MET-Rx, GNC, Enrich, Rexall Showcase International, Nutricia, Milupa, and Cow & Gate. Headquartered in The Netherlands, Royal Numico operates in over 100 countries and employs more than 28,500 people.

9. Group Denounces Herbal Functional Food Products
By Lauran Neergaard

WASHINGTON, July 19, AP -- Consumers are being bilked, and maybe endangered, by dozens of foods spiked with herbal medicines that falsely claim to do such things as boost brain power or fight infections, consumer advocates charged.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest joined with Connecticut’s attorney general and a renowned herbal expert to petition the Food and Drug Administration to halt sales of 75 so-called functional foods.

"The FDA has done a woefully inadequate job of protecting consumers," CSPI attorney Bruce Silverglade said Tuesday, displaying what he called "modern-day snake oils:" snack chips spiked with echinacea and fruit drinks laced with kava kava and ginkgo, all claiming miraculous-sounding health benefits.

"There is no scientific evidence to support these outlandish and ridiculous claims," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is investigating the foods and said he soon will announce a crackdown on deceptive products sold in Connecticut.

"State action will be forthcoming if the federal government can’t do better" at preventing manufacturers from "betraying consumers," Blumenthal added, saying he is asking attorneys general in other states to investigate, too.

Functional foods claim to have added ingredients that provide an extra nutrition boost, and some are very healthy, such as orange juice pumped up with bone-strengthening calcium. Other examples are cereals containing heart-healthy fiber, and FDA-approved margarines that contain cholesterol-lowering ingredients.

But the latest fad takes this concept a step further: adding unproven and largely unregulated herbal dietary supplements to foods.

"Herbs are drugs," said Varro Tyler, a professor emeritus at Purdue University and an internationally known herbal expert.

"We do not add Viagra to soup. We do not spray Prozac on corn chips," Tyler said, yet numerous companies claim to add herbs strong enough to affect health to foods eaten daily by children, pregnant women and others who could be at risk.

If the herb doses really are strong enough to affect health, that "is a disaster waiting to happen," he said. If the doses aren’t that strong, then the foods are safe but deceptive.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America defended the $16 billion functional food industry, accusing the consumer advocates of "frenzied overreaction." The FDA properly regulates foods and brand-name manufacturers only sell safe products, the industry group insisted.

But a General Accounting Office report to Congress last week echoed the state-level concern, calling the FDA’s efforts inadequate to ensure consumer safety.

FDA’s food chief refused comment Tuesday. But the agency has contended that it does not have enough money to crack down on overall functional foods and instead investigates them case-by-case.

Among CSPI’s complaints:

--GinkgO’s brand cereal promises "sharp thinking," as does Arizona’s Rx Memory Elixir tea, because they contain the herb ginkgo, alleged to improve blood flow in the brain. But ginkgo is not proven to help memory. Plus, it thins people’s blood, leading doctors to warn that anyone using regular aspirin or other blood thinners could risk a stroke if they also consume ginkgo.

--Snapple’s Moon Tea, Apple & Eve’s Tribal Tonics Relaxation Cocktail and Hansen’s "d-stress" sparkling drink contain kava kava, an herb Tyler called a potent muscle relaxant and sedative. People in California and Utah have been charged with driving while intoxicated while under kava’s sedative effects, CSPI said.

--Robert’s American Gourmet Echinacea Shells snack claims that "echinacea facilitates the healing process and ... can be an effective antibiotic." The FDA warned Robert’s last January that the antibiotic claim -- which scientists say is completely unproven -- was a federal violation. Plus, Tyler said echinacea can cause allergic reactions, particularly in ragweed-allergy sufferers.

10. American Mayapple Yields Anti-Cancer Extract
By Hank Becker

WASHINGTON, July 17, Agricultural Research Service, USDA -- A common weed called mayapple may offer an alternative to an Asian plant that’s been harvested almost to extinction for an anti-cancer extract, Agricultural Research Service administrator Floyd Horn announced today.

"Besides providing a dependable, long-term supply of the anti-cancer drug, the new extraction method -- if adopted -- could turn the American mayapple into a new alternative crop for U.S. growers," Horn said. ARS and University of Mississippi scientists developed the new extraction method.

The near-extinct Asian plant, Podophyllyum emodi, is a cousin of the mayapple weed found in the United States. The Asian plant makes a compound called podophyllotoxin, used in manufacturing the cancer drug etoposide, the active ingredient in a drug used for treating lung and testicular cancer. In chemotherapy, the drug has been shown to inhibit the activity of an enzyme essential for the replication of cancer cells, preventing their spread.

But shrinking supplies of the P. emodi plant in India have resulted in export restrictions. Since synthesis of etoposide from simple building blocks requires a costly multi step process, many attempts have been made to develop alternative natural sources of this compound.

Working with University of Mississippi researchers, plant physiologists Camilo Canel and Frank Dayan with the ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit at Oxford, Miss., discovered and developed the new method of extracting podophyllotoxin. With it, they’ve shown that leaves of the mayapple, P. peltatum, can yield a readily available, plentiful and renewable source of stored podophyllotoxins.

Given the acute toxicity of podophyllotoxin, the scientists think that both species produce the compound as a form of protection from insects and other herbivores.

The ARS-Mississippi team found an efficient way to extract the compound, which the mayapple stores in the form of glucosides. The plant adds a glucose molecule to podophyllotoxins so the compound can be safely stored until the plant is attacked. The key to their extraction is removing podophyllotoxin’s "safety-seal."

The new extraction method is fast, efficient and inexpensive. The use of mayapple leaves constitutes a sustainable procedure for providing a dependable, long-term supply of podophyllotoxin.

The team has filled a joint patent on the new technology. Talks are in progress with pharmaceutical firms to license it to make this drug more available in the marketplace.

11. Clinical Study Underway on Benefits of Horny Goat Weed Herbal Sexual Enhancement Supplement
NEW YORK, July 24, PRNewswire -- Bodyonics Ltd., manufacturers of Pinnacle supplements, is sponsoring a clinical study of their Horny Goat Weed (Tribulus terrestris) all-natural botanical sexual enhancement and performance formula. This study signifies the company’s faith in the product’s performance and the company’s commitment to customer satisfaction by backing their claims and confidence in herbal therapy with scientific results.

Dr. Steven Lamm, a well-known author and accredited specialist of internal medicine in New York City, is currently conducting a study to rate the pro-sexual performance and satisfaction benefits of the Pinnacle brand Horny Goat Weed versus a placebo. The 50 subjects for the placebo-controlled examination include men and women with complaints of mild to moderate sexual dissatisfaction plus an additional test group made up of men currently using Viagra. Subjects are expected to answer questions based on their activities during the two month study that rate the Pinnacle Horny Goat Weed formula on its ability to boost libido and increase sexual performance. Participants must fill out a questionnaire every thirty days during the three-month study period that rates their level of arousal, feelings of sexual satisfaction, and overall sense of vitality during the previous testing interval. Results of the study are expected in early fall 2000.

Dr. Lamm has served as a Professor of Medicine at New York University’s Bellevue Hospital since 1985, has been a member of the President’s Commission on University Health Matters, and is listed in the Castle Connolly Guide to the Best Doctors in New York. Dr. Lamm has been a guest medical expert on over 100 TV network appearances, and has written several books including the Virility Solution.

Horny Goat Weed is available now at GNC, Great Earth Vitamin Stores, Vitamin World, Vitamin Shoppe and most health food stores and sports nutrition retailers nationwide.

12. Treating Mental Illness Without Drugs
LOS ANGELES, July 24, PRNewswire -- "I lost my father when I was four years old. It was pretty ugly," says Dan Stradford, founder of the Safe Harbor Project, an L.A.-based nonprofit group. "I didn’t lose him to death or divorce. I lost him to mental illness, shock treatments and psychiatric drugs. Only a shell of a man returned home.

"Gone was the vibrant smile, the bedtime stories, the hearty laugh. Instead, a man I’d never seen before moved into our house, haunted with turmoil and lost in the stupor of drugs. He was wrecked for life.

"I knew then there had to be a better way than this to treat the mentally disturbed."

Thus the seed was planted for the launch of -- the first major internet site dedicated to non-psychiatric treatment of the mentally unwell. The site is funded by the Safe Harbor Project.

As one of its key features, carries a national directory of medical doctors, nutritionists, and other practitioners who offer successful, noninvasive treatments for a wide range of mental troubles.

According to Stradford, a dramatic number of cases admitted to psychiatric wards actually have undiagnosed physical illnesses that create or contribute to their severe emotional states. He sites one study from as far back as the 1970’s that noted, "We were able to define a specific medical cause in 97 of 100 patients with pronounced visual hallucinations." (Hall and Popkin, The Female Patient, Oct. 1977) also features a growing list of articles such as "The Physical Causes of Depression" which, among other things, describes a natural product that tested as effective as antidepressants like Prozac but is cheaper and has obviously fewer side effects. Other articles include "Twenty-Nine Medical Causes of ‘Schizophrenia,’" "The Effects of Toxic Metals on Mental Health," and "Candida and Mental Health," written by the million-copy best-selling author Dr. William Crook. Upcoming features will cover nutrition, allergies, and herbal remedies and how they relate to mental health.

"Nutrition is a huge factor in mental troubles," says Stradford. "One study showed that nearly a third of people over 70 have Vitamin B-12 deficiencies that can and do create depression and senility. From another angle, our site gives a vitamin regimen that has been reported to be 90% successful in treating early-stage schizophrenia."

As part of its nutritional coverage, features the "Dramatic Recovery" of a woman recently diagnosed with a seven-month bout of "catatonic schizophrenia" who then began a sudden turnabout and full recovery within 36 hours of starting nutritional therapy.

Stradford cites a recent Time magazine poll that shows 40% of Americans are taking nutritional supplements and a recent New England Journal of Medicine article that emphasizes the importance of a good diet. "It’s astonishing," he says, "that while the medical field has embraced nutritional discoveries as smart science, the mental health disciplines remain stagnated in the Dark Ages.

"While drugs may be a necessary evil in some extreme situations, tons of research has shown the critical relationship between nutrients, nutritional metabolism, and mental disturbances."

Examples cited include a successful study at Harvard on the treatment of manic depression with fish oil supplements. In a similar vein, Duke University recently found that a brisk 30-minute walk three times a week is as effective as antidepressants.

"The whole field of alternative mental health is an explosion of information waiting to happen," Stradford continued. "We have found a dramatic interest in this from the public."

The Safe Harbor Project and were established to educate the public and governments on alternative mental treatments that are safe and effective. Their stated mission is: "A world where severe mental symptoms are healed rapidly, safely and sanely."

Criteria for practitioners who wish to be listed on include: no psychosurgery, no shock treatment, no "talk therapy," and minimal or no use of psychiatric drugs (on a temporary or emergency basis only). A listing questionnaire is available on the site.

13. Biotech Firm Finds New Use for Copper Mine; Grows Genetically Engineered Tobacco Plants for Use in Cancer Treatment
By Leonard Zehr

TORONTO, July 21, Toronto Globe and Mail -- A small Saskatchewan biotechnology company has found a novel use for an abandoned copper mine in Michigan: growing tobacco plants that produce the building blocks of a life-saving drug for Health Canada.

Prairie Plant Systems Inc. will announce today the first-ever molecular farming project that is housed in a tunnel 91 metres undergroung at the former Copper Range Co. White Pine mine.

The tobacco plants have been genetically engineered by Health Canada so that their seeds will produce a new protein the agency hopes to develop as a treatment for bone marrow cancer.

"This has the potential to usher in a new era of mass production of biopharmaceuticals, especially ones that are expensive to make conventionally," said Brent Zettl, president and chief executive officer of Prairie Plant.

Plants have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, providing some of the most important drugs used in medicine, including aspirin, morphine and the anti-cancer drug taxol.

Recent advances in molecular genetics, however, have allowed researchers to insert human DNA into certain plants -- such as tobacco, potato, corn and alfalfa -- that have a natural ability to assemble genetic information into proteins at a fraction of the cost of traditional cell culture and fermentation system.

Today, analysts estimate that as much as 25 per cent of all prescription drugs are derived from plants.

Mr. Zettl, who has been running Saskatoon-based Prairie Plants since 1990, said the company and investors in Michigan have formed a new joint venture called SubTerra LLC to initially develop 3,000 square feet in the mine at a cost "well into the six figures."

"It looks like an ordinary lab, except it has jagged walls that are painted white," he said.

By the beginning of November, SubTerra expects to deliver "serval kilograms" of tobacco seeds to Health Canada scientist, who will grind the seeds to recover the protein for clinical testing.

Health Canada officials could not be reached for comment.

"We’re not going to make money from a pilot project, but it’s a stepping stone to a commercial venture," he said. Besides expanding the mine space in the future, he wants SubTerra to become a biopharmaceutical manufacture.

Mr. Zettl said the advantages of underground farming include a secure containment area for genetically modified plants and a controlled environment, which promotes accelerated plant growth.

"We’ve also discovered a trigger that stimulates growth of any plant, but it hasn’t been patented yet."

Prairie Plants is no stranger to underground farming. In 1991, the company created a growth chamber in an unused section of the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd. zinc-copper mine at Flin Flon, Man., for research and development into cloning fruit trees.

The company, which sells a variety of trees for orchard development and also grows plants for mine reclamation, is expected to generate sales of $1-million this year, he said.

In 1995, it began growing yew trees underground at Flin Flon under a contract to produce taxol, a drug used to treat breast cancer. "We had the trees growing about three feet a year, which is faster than the six inches or so that they grow in the wild," Mr. Zettl said.

The venture fell through because Prairie Plant’s partner failed to obtain the Canadian marketing rights to sell the drug.

14. New Technologies for Plant-based Medicines
By Praveen Saxena et al.

SAN FRANCISCO, March 26-30, American Chemical Society -- The quality of plant-based medicines has been compromised by contamination with insects, bacteria and fungi and lack of scientific information. We have developed in vitro culture techniques to address these issues.

Efficient, high-frequency multiplication of St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), Huang qin (Scutellaria baicalensis), Echinacea sp. and feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) was achieved following induction of organogenesis or somatic embyogenesis in response to thidiasuron [N-phenyl-N’(1,2,3-thidiazol-yl)urea]. In vitro regenerated plants or Echinacea and St. John’s wort were fortified with Zn and Li, respectively, to develop value-added products.

Identification of active constituents included characterization of the biochemical synthesis of the mammalian neurohormones seroninin and melatonin in St. John’s wort. These techiques will all for production of sterile, consistent plant-based medicines through a) optimization of the mass-production of high-quality tissues and b) characterization and enhancement of "active" constituents.

15. India Introduces Regulations for Making Traditional Medicines
According to a news article in the British Medical Journal, the Indian government has established manufacturing regulations for traditional medicine products in an effort to help the industry compete internationally. Manufacturers of products used in traditional Indian healing systems, including Ayurveda, Sidha, and Unani, have 2 years to comply with the new infrastructure, staffing, and quality control regulations. The government also plans to establish laboratories to test traditional medicines for compliance with good manufacturing practices.

Approved products will receive a good manufacturing certificate. The Indian government hopes that international markets will be more likely to buy products that have been approved by government laboratories.

[Source: Rohit Sharma M. 2000. British Medical Journal, Vol. 321, page 134.]

16. Indian Government Measures to Boost Herbal Exports
NEW DELHI, July 18, M2 Communications -- The Indian government has taken a number of measures to boost exports of herbal products from the country which include extending the Market Development Assistance for ayurvedic and herbal exporters so as to enable them to compete in foreign markets through participation in overseas fairs & exhibitions, mounting trade delegations and conducting market surveys in foreign countries. The Department of Indian System of Medicines and Homeopathy under Government of India exclusively concentrates on all aspects of herbal industry to redress various problems faced by the industry. To provide more focussed attention to export of herbal products, Chemexcil, the concerned Export Promotion Council under Department of Commerce, has a separate Ayurvedic sub-panel. Further, government is constantly interacting with the herbal industry and concerned associations to identify and deal with the problems faced by the exporters.

The exports of herbal products have going up continuously for the last three years. Details of export of Indian herbal products during the period from 1996-97 till 1998-1999 as per DGCI & S data are as follows: 1996-97, Rs. 197.6 crore; 1997-98, Rs. 239.9 crore; 1998-99, Rs. 244.6 crore. [Rs. 1 crore = US$0.22 million]

17. Call for Brazil-India Cooperation in Drugs and Medicinal Plants
NEW DELHI, July 25, M2 Communications -- Jose Serra, Minister of Health and Social Welfare for Brazil called on the Indian Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. C.P.Thakur, and the Indian Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Prof. Rita Verma, here today. A ten-member delegation representing the Brazil’s pharmaceutical industry and public health sector, and Brazil’s ambassador to India, Mrs. B. B. Machado, accompanied the visiting Minister.

During the hour-long meeting Jose Serra suggested a joint conference to be held by the Indo-Brazil pharmaceutical industry by mid September of this year. He called for investment from India in Brazil and also expansion of Indian trade with Brazil.

The Brazilian Minister called for mutual cooperation with India not only in manufacture of drugs but also in production of raw materials of drugs and research on drugs for controlling malaria, dengue, kala-azar and yellow fever etc.

Welcoming the delegation from Brazil, Dr. C.P.Thakur, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare has said that there is large scope for mutual cooperation between India and Brazil in many sectors since their problems are similar, pointing out the incidence of many diseases in these countries are associated with affluence and poverty. He solicits the cooperation from Brazil especially in health sector.

Prof. Rita Verma, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare has expressed that Indo-Brazil cooperation continues to grow further in the days ahead.

Shri J.A.Choudhury, Secretary, Health, urged the visiting Minister to take advantage of the active and innovative Indian pharmaceutical industry by importing Indian drugs.

Smt. Shailaja Chandra, Secretary, ISM&H, suggested that India and Brazil are having common eco-system and hence joint efforts can be initiated in the area of medicinal plants.

Shri J.V.R.Prasada Rao, Project Director, National AIDS Control Organisation and Addl. Secretary, Health pointed out that six most populous countries viz. China, India, Brazil, Bangla Desh, Nigeria and Russia have come together in the recent International Conference on AIDS held at Durban in South Africa in combating the AIDS/HIV. If this declaration is extended to Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa, 60 to 70 per cent of the world population could be covered. He calls for funding from Brazil for research on AIDS/HIV drugs in India.

18. Zimbabwean Traditional Herbal Care Can Reverse AIDS Symptoms
By Tim Chigodo

HARARE, Zimbabwe, July 24, All Africa News Agency -- A two-year research to investigate the effects of traditional herbal remedies on HIV progression has found that some of the medicines are capable of reversing AIDS symptoms.

Although the herbs cannot reduce viral load, they have been found to boost immunity in people infected with HIV virus.

Preliminary results of the laboratory research conducted in and around the Zimbabwean capital here by the Blair Research Institute, working with traditional healers, concluded that there are positive effects of traditional herbs on HIV/AIDS.

In an interview recently, the director of the Blair Research Institute, Dr Stephen Chandiwana, said the research had concluded that natural herbs played a crucial role in people infected with diseases.

The "open label clinical trial" showed that patients put on traditional treatment had their immunity improved and were more relieved of opportunistic infections than those purely on conventional treatment.

The study was prompted by claims by some traditional healers that they had found a cure for the deadly disease. It was sponsored by Old Mutual Zimbabwe and the Netherlands Embassy from June 1996 to May 1998.

Chandiwana said 200 people living with HIV/AIDS were selected to take part in the research.

Half of them were put under the care of a traditional healers but were not stopped from taking conventional treatment while the remainder were purely on conventional treatment.

Participants were placed in three categories: HIV-positive people who had no symptoms, those with symptoms and those with advanced compromised immunity due to HIV.

Indicators of disease progression like CD4 cell count and viral load were closely monitored.

Consultants reviewed the patients every month. It was observed that the viral load in those taking herbs remained stable while for those on normal care it had increased.

Chandiwana said the results also showed that improved management of HIV infection produced fairly sustainable improvement in clinical condition of patients.

The study had established that a number of people infected with the HIV virus were relying on traditional medicine.

The fact that there was no statistical viral load could be interpreted in two ways. First, it was most likely that the herbs used had no anti-retroviral properties.

Second, it could also mean that patients could have got worse if their viral load had been left to increase.

"The study has demonstrated that scientists can carry out reasonably informative studies with traditional herbalists to provide some insights into the potential management of HIV using herbs," Chandiwana added.

The challenge for scientists was now to try and delineate the active ingredients in the herbs, Chandiwana said. He regretted that the traditional healers involved in the study had declined to disclose what they had given the patients.

A project to be undertaken in collaboration with the University of Zimbabwe to investigate the contents of some of the herbs would soon be embarked on.

19. Tibetan Medicine Focus of International Symposium
LHASA, Tibet, July 16, Xinhua -- A number of traditional Tibetan medicine doctors in Tibet and from neighboring Qinghai and Sichuan provinces sat for the first time in their lives side by side with hundreds of medical experts from all over the world at the 2000 International Symposium on Tibetan Medicine, which opened in this capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region on Saturday.

Kradus, a Tibetan who offers medical treatment to farmers and herdsmen and has gathered medicinal herbs in the mountains for many years, arrived at the conference hall ahead of time.

In an interview with Xinhua, he said that the 2,000-year-old Tibetan medicine was developed by the Tibetan people in their long struggle for survival. However, the main books of Tibetan medicine were kept in monasteries, and local doctors seldom exchanged the secret recipes handed down from their ancestors.

"The current international symposium provides us with a rare opportunity to broaden our vision and learn from the experiences of other parts of the world," he said.

According to the organizing committee, 500 papers on Tibetan medicine will be read at the three-day symposium, the first one ever held in the homeland of Tibetan medicine.

Byamba Chilai, an authority on Tibetan medicine, said in his report that some medical works describe the occurrence of disease as the role played by ghosts and monsters. He said this is unscientific and traditional Tibetan medicine should be combined with modern medical science, and folk Tibetan doctors should seek international cooperation.

Solaun Com, a Tibetan doctor who has been working in a rural area of Damxung County in Tibet for many years, said, "Though we don’t have the advanced equipment and good medical conditions enjoyed by hospitals practicing Western medicine, the unique way of treatment and naturally grown medicine are able to cure the chronic and difficult diseases which Western medicine can not deal with."

To date, thousands of Tibetan doctors offer medical treatment in Tibet and in the areas inhabited by Tibetans in neighboring Qinghai and Sichuan provinces. Tibetan hospitals have also been set up in Nepal, Russia and other countries.

Denis Doubrovine, a professor at the Russian State Medical University, said, "Many people in Russia claim to know Tibetan medicine. But in my view only those who have read Tibetan medical books and consulted Tibetan doctors are trustworthy."

Cuo Ru Ci Lang, a Tibetan lama, and also a doctor, who has given lectures in Britain, Hungary and Japan, said, "I believe that Tibetan medicine will earn great prestige worldwide and better serve the people of all countries."

20. Experts Appraise Tibetan Medicine
LHASA, Tibet, July 16, Xinhua -- Medical workers from at home and abroad are quite familiar with the genome project and bio- engineering, which represent the most advanced level of the development of modern medicine.

However, more and more of them are becoming fascinated with Tibetan medicine, which has a recorded history of over 2,000 years.

Information from the on-going international symposium on Tibetan medicine here show that China has set up a system which covers medical treatment, teaching, scientific research and production of Tibetan medicines over the past two decades and more.

More than 20 countries have established research institutes on Tibetan medicine, and some classics of Tibetan medicine such as " The Four Medical Tantras" and "Pearl Herbology" have been translated into English, French, German, Russian, Japanese and many other foreign languages.

Tibetan medicine, which originated on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, has a recorded history of over 2,000 years, and its actual history is probably more than 4,000 years, according to experts.

It is a unique traditional medical system developed by Tibetans, which absorbs the advantages of traditional Chinese medicine, ancient Indian medicine and ancient Arabian medicine.

Qamba Chilai, honorary president of the College of Tibetan Medicine, said that traditional Tibetan medicine boasts a complete theoretical system and is rich in clinic experience.

Tibetan medicine unveiled the profound mystery of the human anatomy as early as in the 8th century, Qambao said.

Baghwan Dash has written 14 books on Tibetan medicine since he won a doctoral degree at New Delhi University in 1978. The majority of them have been published in New Delhi. He shuttles between India and Italy to attend his five Tibetan and Indian medicine clinics in the two countries.

"Tibetan medicine is a kind of natural therapy which combines human beings closely with nature. It pays attention not only to treatment of disease but also to psychological recuperation," he said, adding, "I hope my endeavors will make Tibetan medicine accepted by more people."

To date, research institutes on Tibetan medicine have been set up in more than 20 countries and regions with a large contingent of established specialists. Tibetan medicine doctors from China have been invited to give lectures in a dozen countries, including the United States, Britain, Japan, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and Switzerland.

Inspired by a report on Tibetan medicine given at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983, an American doctor, named Eliot Tokar, opened his own Tibetan medicine clinic in New York in the 1980s.

Many Tibetan medical books such as the "Four Medical Classics", "Pearl Herbology" and "Selected Works of Tibetan Medicine" have been translated into English, German, French, Russian and Japanese.

Zhan Dui, president of the Tibetan Hospital in Tibet, said most of the crude drugs in Tibetan medicine are mineral products or natural plants and animals living on snow-covered mountains with an elevation of 5,000 meters. Hence, it has better curative effect than other medicine.

The Chee-Zheng Pain-Eliminating plaster made by the Qizheng Tibetan Medicine Group, won the grand prize at the 26th International Exhibition of Inventions held in Geneva in 1998. Tibetan Rhodiolao, a new type of tonic which is good for the brain and able to inhibit the spread of cancer, now has ready markets in the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan.

21. Tibetan Medicine Producers Exploring Overseas Markets
LHASA, Tibet, July 17, Xinhua -- Wang Zili, manager of the Tibet Gadol Development Co., was a busy figure at the International Symposium on Tibetan Medicine, which closed here today.

The first international symposium held in the hometown of Tibetan medicine provided him with a golden opportunity to seek partners for the development of new medicines.

Like him, business people involved in Tibetan medicine production and development from Tibet and other areas of China, such as Qinghai, Yunnan and Gansu provinces, brought to the symposium some 100 of their products to look for partners.

Wang said that he signed letters of intent at the meeting with a number of potential partners. A sales agency based in Beijing said that it was interested in representing his company in promoting Gadol products in Beijing.

Wang said that by attending the symposium he has broadened his insight into the industry. The development of traditional Tibetan medicine must go along with ecological protection, as Tibetan medicine is mainly produced from natural herbs.

For example, gadol or rhodiola root is a popular Tibetan herbal medicine. Tibet has a gadol reserve of some two million tons.

"But we can not excessively exploit wild herbs. The company has planned to build a gadol plantation of some 66 ha to sustain the use of the medicine," Wang said.

Baima Gyaco, manager of a Tibetan medicine company from Nagqu Prefecture in Tibet, got inspired by the knowledge from the symposium that an American company had opened a website featuring Tibetan medicine and intends to use E-commerce to explore the American market for Tibetan medicine.

"My company mainly depends on intermediary agencies to explore overseas markets, which has proved ineffective. We now plan to learn to use E-commerce to promote 13 categories of our medicinal products overseas," he said.

Participants in the symposium foresee a broad international market for Tibetan medicine. However, they pointed out that there is still a long way to go to direct the mass-produced medicine to the international market.

One of the problems is that most Tibetan medicine producers have not properly prepared themselves for international competition. The terms of "capital restructuring and share-holding " are still new to the locals.

Experts also suggest that more high technology be introduced into Tibetan medicine production in order to better adapt the traditional industry to the international market.

22. Lavender Boom Means Big Business
By Heidi B. Perlman

HARWICH, Mass., July 17, AP -- A decade ago, when Cynthia Sutphin planted her first 400 lavender plants in a small garden outside her Harwich home, she wasn’t certain why she was doing it.

Somehow, she says, she just knew the plant would catch on someday, and she wanted to be ready when it did.

Today, Cynthia Sutphin, the owner of the Cape Cod Lavender Farm, annually harvests more than 15,000 lavender plants and can barely keep up with the demand for oils, soaps, aand potpourri and plants fueled by a surge in consumers exploring natural remedies, homeopathy and aromatherapy.

"I knew that eventually lavender would hit it big," said Sutphin, 48. "And I knew that I would be in the right place at the right time when it happened."

Some say the ancient plant had its big break just last year when it was named Herb of the Year by the International Herb Association in Virginia.

But others say its popularity has been steadily building for years with the increase in more health-conscious consumers.

"It’s only recently that people started to notice it can be used for so much more than just perfume," said Peggy McElgunn, director of the herb association. "People are finally waking up to it and becoming smarter."

To the untrained eye -- or nose -- lavender is just another flowering plant with deep purple buds and a scent reminiscent of a grandmother’s perfume.

But to Sutphin and other herb enthusiasts, it is a near mystical herb that can be used to cure headaches, induce sleep, season pasta or even sweeten lemonade.

When pressed, the flower buds release an oil that is used for massage oil, soaps, perfume and air freshener. And when dried correctly, the flowers can retain their scent and most of their color for years, Sutphin said.

"It’s something our grandparents knew about," she said. "Our parents didn’t, but now we’re rediscovering lavender. It skipped a generation."

And now that people have begun to notice it again, just about anything having to do with lavender is not only popular, but big business.

Sutphin’s farm is beginning to see more competition from smaller farms around the region, including the Franklin County Lavender Growers in western Massachusetts, a cooperative of about 40 farmers with about 3,500 plants among them.

Farms are flourishing across the country as well, including the Olympic Peninsula, where the North American Lavender Conference is held each year. More than 60 farms and herb nurseries in states from coast to coast are registered members of the International Herb Association.

And where there was once just a handful of books about herbs and their healing qualities, today there are more than 200 books in print on lavender alone.

"I think people have a growing need to get back to nature," said David Schiller, a spokesman for the International Aromatherapy and Herb Association, based in Phoenix. "Especially in cities with no trees or grass. This lets them get (a taste of) nature again."

Growers agree.

"I could sit here and make soap all day and I would still run out," said Denise Schwartz, who is a member of the western Massachusetts cooperative. Demand has doubled since last year, she said.

Sutphin opened her farm to the public just four years ago. The number of visitors has risen from 2,000 in the first year to 4,000 in the second to 8,000 in the third. This year, business already has quadrupled, she said.

She plans to expand her tiny shop, which is now housed in a shed at the end of the winding driveway that leads to her farm. And next year she says she and her husband, Matthew, may have to hire some full-time help.

"We’re getting too big to run this whole thing ourselves," Sutphin said. "It’s just no longer possible."

On her 11 acres of lush fields, she grows eight varieties of lavender. For a few weeks each year, most of the eight varieties are in bloom, painting her landscape with a delicate purple brush.

And when all the flowers are out and the breeze blows just right, there is no sweeter sight or scent in the world, she said.

"It’s beautiful to look at, and pleasing to the eyes and the nose," she said. "Once you’re hooked, you’re hooked."

Today, Sutphin and her husband sell their lavender in bulk to home decor doyen Martha Stewart and to individual customers who find the farm.

And even in the dead of winter, when the Cape Cod roads are unplowed and her dirt driveway is nearly impossible to find, there is always someone out there looking for lavender, she said.

"What can I say?" she said. "People love it."

23. Herb Business News
Fytokem: Dragoco to Market Fytokem’s Active Ingredients to the Personal Care Industry

SASKATOON, July 6, 2000, Fytokem -- Fytokem Products Inc. is pleased to announce the signing of a Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Dragoco, Gerberding & Co. AG of Germany, a leading international supplier of perfume compositions, aroma chemicals, cosmetic raw materials, active ingredients and flavors.

Under the terms of the agreement, Dragoco will obtain worldwide rights to sell and market Fytokem products, including Canadian Willowherb*, Tyrostat* and Fytosorb*, to the personal care industry. The marketing of these products is expected to begin immediately.

In addition, the two companies will collaborate on new product development, whereby Dragoco will contribute funding, market intelligence, and technical expertise to accelerate the development of specialty products for the personal care industry. Fytokem retains all rights to its products for sale to other markets, such as the nutraceutical, animal health or OTC/therapeutic markets.

"This agreement greatly expands upon our previous product supply and product development arrangement with Dragoco," said Greg Dutka, Interim President of Fytokem. "As a result of this new agreement, Dragoco will begin marketing a number of our exciting products to the personal care industry, while Fytokem will benefit from Dragoco’s significant resources as a leading international ingredients supplier. This marks an important step in our transition from a concept-based company to one of product commercialization and sales."

"Fytokem’s natural and effective plant-based ingredients continue to attract interest in the cosmetic and personal care industries," said Klaus Stanzl, Vice President Cosmetics Division Worldwide of Dragoco. "We are very excited about the market potential of their existing products and working closely with Fytokem’s R&D team to develop exciting new ingredients for this large and growing market".

"We believe this agreement with Dragoco is the first of many as we continue to build strong partnerships with industry leaders," added Mr. Dutka. "Agreements such as this deliver on our promise to shareholders of building strategic relationships that leverage the marketing resources of our partners, while allowing us to focus on our core expertise of new product research and development."

Dragoco is one of the leading international suppliers of perfume compositions, aroma chemicals, cosmetic raw materials and active ingredients, and flavors. Founded in 1919, Dragoco is active in 24 countries around the globe, recording sales of over US $300 million in 1999. The company is based in Germany with manufacturing operations in Germany, Singapore, Vienna, Sao Paulo and the United States.

About Fytokem Fytokem Products Inc. develops, produces and markets high-value extracts and refined natural chemicals from plants found in northern Canada for use as ingredients in personal care, nutraceutical/therapeutic and bio-industrial products. The company’s shares are listed on the Canadian Venture Exchange under the symbol FYT.

Herbalife: Second-Quarter Sales Up 4%

LOS ANGELES, July 26, Business Wire -- Herbalife International Inc. today reported financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2000.

Retail sales for the 2000 second quarter increased 4 percent to $441.2 million, from $425.8 million in the 1999 comparable quarter. Net sales for the 2000 second quarter, after the effect of distributor allowances, increased 5 percent to $236.8 million from $226.4 million in the same quarter last year. Net income decreased to $11.7 million, or $0.39 per diluted share, from $12.2 million, or $0.40 per diluted share, in the 1999 second quarter.

For the six months ended June 30, 2000, retail sales increased 5 percent to $899.7 million compared to $854.6 million in 1999. Net sales increased 6 percent to $480.7 million from $452.8 million a year ago. Net income, excluding a non-recurring charge taken in the first quarter, decreased 3 percent to $23.3 million, or $0.75 per diluted share, from net income of $23.9 million, or $0.79 per diluted share, in 1999.

In the current-year first quarter, the company recorded a one-time charge of $9.5 million, equivalent to $0.18 per diluted share, relating to fees and expenses in connection with the termination of a proposed buy-out transaction.

Christopher Pair, Herbalife president and chief executive officer, said: "We are pleased with the continuing strong demand for our products in the Americas, especially the United States, Mexico and Brazil. We experienced lower sales in Japan, where weak economic conditions adversely affected consumer spending. In response, the company is implementing a number of initiatives intended to revitalize that market, which we are optimistic will be successful over time.

"However, in large part based on the present sales environment in Japan, we currently expect that total company sales will stabilize at current levels for the next two quarters. We are also taking steps to hold expenses for the last half of the year. Given these assumptions, we currently expect that fully diluted earnings per share for the full year will range between $1.45 and $1.55, excluding the one-time charge incurred in the first quarter."

In the Americas, retail sales for the 2000 second quarter increased 14 percent to $155.8 million from $136.6 million in the 1999 second quarter. Retail sales in the United States increased 10 percent to $116.7 million for the 2000 second quarter, from $106.4 million in the second quarter of 1999.

Retail sales in Mexico increased 68 percent to $17.8 million for the 2000 second quarter. Retail sales in Brazil increased 17 percent to $10.5 million for the second quarter of 2000. There were no significant currency fluctuations in the region during the quarter.

In the Asia/Pacific Rim region, 2000 second-quarter retail sales increased 7 percent to $179.2 million from $167.3 million in the second quarter of 1999. Retail sales in India, which opened in November 1999, were $17.5 million in the second quarter. Retail sales of $31.9 million in South Korea for the 2000 second quarter decreased from $33.8 million in the comparable prior-year quarter.

Japan’s retail sales of $94.8 million declined 6 percent from the same quarter last year. In local currency, Japan’s retail sales declined 17 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

Retail sales in Europe were $106.3 million in the second quarter of 2000, down 13 percent compared to $121.9 million in the second quarter of 1999. In local currency, retail sales declined 2 percent. Within the region, retail sales in Italy decreased 18 percent to $26.7 million.

Marketing, distribution and administrative expenses for the second quarter increased to $89.9 million compared to $80.9 million in the prior-year quarter. The increase was due to higher sales event expenses, new country operating expenses (primarily India), and increases in infrastructure. These increases were partially offset by a gain related to a key man life insurance policy.

Herbalife International Inc. markets nutritional, weight management and personal care products in 49 countries worldwide. Herbalife products are available only through a network of independent distributors who purchase the products directly from the company.

Herbalife: Adopts Preferred Share Purchase Rights Plan to Protect Shareholder Rights

LOS ANGELES, July 28, BusinessWire -- Herbalife International Inc. today announced that its Board of Directors has adopted a Preferred Share Purchase Rights Plan designed to enable all Herbalife shareholders to realize the long-term value of their investment in the Company.

Pursuant to the terms of the Plan, the Board of Directors of the Company has declared a dividend distribution of one Preferred Share Purchase Right on each outstanding share of Herbalife common stock. Subject to limited exceptions, the Rights will be exercisable if a person or group acquires 15% or more of the Company’s Class A Common Stock or the combined classes of Common Stock, or announces a tender offer for 15% or more of the Company’s Class A Common Stock or the combined classes of Common Stock. Under certain circumstances, each Right will entitle shareholders to buy one one-hundredth of a share of newly created Series A Junior Participating Preferred Stock of the Company at an exercise price of $40.00. The Herbalife Board will be entitled to redeem the Rights at $.01 per Right at any time before a person has acquired 15% or more of the outstanding Class A Common Stock or the combined classes of Common Stock.

Christopher Pair, President and Chief Executive Officer of Herbalife, said, "The Plan is not designed to deter negotiated mergers or business combinations that the Board of Directors determines to be in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders. To the contrary, the Plan is designed to encourage anyone interested in acquiring the Company to negotiate with the Board of Directors prior to attempting an acquisition. We believe this action will assure that all of our shareholders receive fair and equal treatment and maximum value for their shares, and will guard against partial tender offers, open market accumulations and other abusive tactics to gain control of Herbalife without paying all shareholders a control premium." Herbalife said that adoption of the Plan is not in response to any specific acquisition proposal. The Rights Plan will expire in 2010.

According to the Plan, if a person becomes an Acquiring Person, each Right will entitle its holder to purchase, at the Right’s then-current exercise price, a number of shares of Class B Common Stock of Herbalife having a market value at that time of twice the Right’s exercise price. Rights held by the Acquiring Person will become void and will not be exercisable to purchase shares at the bargain purchase price. An Acquiring Person is defined as a person who acquires 15% or more of the outstanding Class A Common Stock or of the combined class of Common Stock of Herbalife. If Herbalife is acquired in a merger or other business combination transaction which has not been approved by the Board of Directors, each Right will entitle its holder to purchase, at the Right’s then-current exercise price, a number of the acquiring company’s common shares having a market value at that time of twice the Right’s exercise price.

The dividend distribution to establish the new Rights Plan will be payable to shareholders of record on August 21, 2000. The Rights distribution is not taxable to shareholders.

According to a July 1, 2000 report in Mergers and Acquisitions Journal, a 1999 survey by a leading corporate governance watcher indicated that of 1,900 public companies, 56% had installed shareholder rights plans. The article, which cited the survey by the Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC), said that the number of companies voting in these plans had increased substantially, from 51.9%, over the last three years.

A letter outlining the shareholder rights plan in more detail is being sent to Herbalife shareholders.

Herbalife International, Inc. markets nutritional, weight-management and personal care products in 49 countries worldwide. Herbalife products are available only through a network of independent distributors who purchase the products directly from the Company.

Klosterfrau: Condomi Joins Forces with Herbal Remedy Kaker

FRANKFURT, July 27, Reuters -- German sex merchandise retailer Condomi AG said on Thursday it would start cooperating with MCM Klosterfrau GmbH, best known for making herbal remedies for the elderly.

Klosterfrau is an old German term for a nun. The two companies plan jointly to develop a new generation of particularly "sensitive" condoms, Condomi said in a statement.

Condomi said the deal, which replaces a contract with British condom manufacturer Durex, part of SSL International Plc , will broaden its reach to pharmacies, drug stores and food retailers.

Condomi, whose shares are listed, is expanding internationally with a series of deals this year that have established a presence in Kenya, Britain, France, Scandinavia and Poland.

Nature’s Sunshine: Second Quarter Sales and Earnings Up Overall, But Domestic Sales Down

PROVO, Utah, July 20, Business Wire -- Nature’s Sunshine Products, Inc., a leading manufacturer and marketer of encapsulated herbs and vitamins, today announced improved operating results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2000, reflecting continued strong performance from international operations.

Sales revenue for the quarter ended June 30, 2000, was $78.4 million compared to $71.6 million for the same period of the prior year, an increase of 9 percent. Net income for the second quarter totaled $4.9 million compared to $4.8 million for the same period in 1999, an increase of 2 percent. Basic and diluted earnings per common share for the first quarter were $0.29, compared to basic and diluted earnings per common share of $0.27 for the same period of the prior year.

For the six months ended June 30, 2000, sales revenue totaled $158.4 million compared to $143.8 million for the same period of the prior year, an increase of 10 percent. Net income for the six months ended June 30, 2000, decreased to $9.4 million from $9.8 million the prior year, a decrease of 4 percent. Basic and diluted earnings per common share for the six months ended June 30, 2000, were $0.55 compared to basic and diluted earnings per common share of $0.55 and $0.54, respectively, in the same period of the prior year.

International sales revenues for the three and six months ended June 30, 2000, increased 43 percent and 39 percent, respectively, compared to the same periods the prior year. International sales revenue accounted for 43 percent of consolidated sales revenue for the six months ended June 30, 2000. The Company reported strong sales revenue increases for the quarter throughout its international markets. South Korea, Mexico, Japan, and Brazil reported the most significant increases in sales revenue.

Domestic sales revenues for the second quarter decreased 8 percent, compared to the same period in the prior year. However, total new distributors recruited during the second quarter increased 41 percent, compared to the same period of the prior year, in response to the Company’s marketing initiatives and the SmartStart program.

The total number of domestic distributors at June 30, 2000, was approximately 215,000, up 30,000 from June 30, 1999. The total number of worldwide distributors at June 30, 2000, was 560,000 compared to 532,000 at June 30, 1999.

"We are encouraged about the future for Nature’s Sunshine," said Daniel P. Howells, President and CEO. "Our international business remains strong, virtually across the board. Domestically, we are encouraged by the increase in the number of new distributors that resulted from the recent marketing programs we have put in place."

The Company’s financial position continues to remain strong. Working capital at June 30, 2000, was approximately $40.4 million. Cash and long-term investments approximated $36.1 million. During the second quarter of 2000, the Company purchased approximately 343,000 shares of its common stock in the open market, pursuant to its current stock repurchase program. The Company is authorized to purchase up to an additional 500,000 shares of its common stock as market conditions warrant.

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

Omni Nutraceuticals: Explores Strategic Options: Possible Venture, Merger

LOS ANGELES, July 20, Dow Jones -- Omni Nutraceuticals Inc. Tuesday said it hired Rabobank International as its investment banker to explore strategic options, which may include debt restructuring and a possible joint venture or merger.

Omni Nutraceuticals makes herbal and nutritional supplements.

Shaman Pharmaceuticals: Expands Botanical Dietary Supplements Line

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, July 20, PRNewswire -- Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc. through its main operating division, today announced that it will introduce the first line extension of its unique anti-diarrheal, Normal Stool Formula(TM) (NSF), Normal Stool Formula IB(TM) (NSF-IB), in August 2000. NSF-IB relieves serious diarrhea and the resultant abdominal discomfort, symptoms typically associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and intestinal disorders, by normalizing ion balance in the intestine through an anti-secretory mechanism. Additionally, Shaman is set to roll out its second product line, the SynXBar(TM), which promotes cardiovascular health and maintains healthy triglyceride levels when used in conjunction with a healthy diet, later this summer.

In September 1999, Shaman launched NSF, a unique herbal supplement that relieves diarrhea without causing constipation. This week, the Company signed an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with General Nutrition Corporation (GNC), which allows GNC to market Shaman’s Normal Stool Formula(TM) (NSF) in GNC’s health and specialty retail store channels. GNC plans to initially market NSF under one of its most successful proprietary brands in the U.S., and is exploring potential opportunities to develop additional markets overseas.

Under this worldwide license, NSF will be featured in the GNC chain of 4,200 health food specialty stores, and in addition Rite-AID GNC pharmacy store-in-stores and ‘s store-in-store. NSF is currently available under the Shaman brand in 1,100 Medicine Shoppe pharmacies, 36 chronic diseases focused CVS ProCare pharmacies, Statscript and Statlanders pharmacies, via 800 direct sales, and . "The GNC relationship is particularly exciting since it increases the retail access to NSF by 500 percent," Shaman’s President and CEO, Lisa Conte said.

The potential market opportunity for Shaman’s products is vast. "One hundred million people suffer from multiple forms of diarrhea in the U.S.," Conte commented. "This includes travelers’ diarrhea, medication-induced diarrhea, chemotherapy/radiation-induced diarrhea, HIV-related diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other serious diarrheas. Approximately 65 to 70 million Americans are at risk for Syndrome X, the metabolic disorder that leads to over 50 percent of all heart attacks in the United States. The delicious SynXBar, and its line extensions, are based on more than 30 years of clinical research conducted by Dr. Gerald Reaven, Senior Vice President, Clinical Research, at Shaman, Professor Active Emeritus, Stanford University, and discoverer of Syndrome X.

The herbal supplement market is burgeoning. "Last year consumers spent over $12 billion for dietary supplements such as St. John’s wort, Ginkgo biloba and Echinacea," explained Conte. "Pharmaceutical companies including Bayer, American Home Products and Warner-Lambert are active participants in this marketplace. Growth in the herbal supplement market is projected to be in the areas of high science, clinically tested and proprietary products -- Shaman’s bedrock strengths and compelling competitive advantage."

Shaman is the only botanical dietary supplement company specializing in the discovery, development, and commercialization of clinically proven proprietary botanical dietary supplements from tropical plants with a history of traditional use in the rain forest, for the treatment of unmet healthcare needs. The Company conducts collaborative research with tropical indigenous healers and their communities in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, to gather data on medicinal plants with a history of safe and effective human use.

"All our products are commercialized based on human clinical data and rigorous manufacturing standards," said Conte. "The Company is actively leveraging more than a decade of research and development, an inventory of over 2,600 individual plants and plant compounds on a computerized database, patents on over 20 compounds and approximately $150 million invested to develop proprietary products targeted at unmet health needs. Shaman’s unique anti-diarrheals and SynXBar are the Company’s first products in a pipeline that we project will grow to encompass a wide array of proprietary botanical dietary supplements coming on stream in the years ahead."

Shaman’s future growth will be driven by enhancements of current Internet capabilities to ensure that all search engine inquiries on all relevant disease terms such as diarrhea and IBS, include Shaman/Shaman products as part of the findings. Additionally, Shaman will expand its distribution channels, as well as employ cable direct selling programs that will reach millions of diarrhea sufferers. Another growth driver will be to co-brand products with leading players in the mass and multi-level marketing channels as well as to formulate and out license sales of the Company’s NSF Pediatric product.

A compelling reason for Conte’s belief in Shaman achieving substantial future growth is the Company’s positive gross margins as well as multiple competitive barriers: its patents, published clinical data, manufacturing trade secrets, reliable and sustainable raw plant material sourcing from rain forest areas of the world, and community benefit-sharing programs.

"Shaman is the exciting and ongoing story of product innovation, employee commitment, and dedication to all stakeholders. We are now poised for exceptional growth as we actively contribute to meeting various unmet healthcare needs and build shareholder value," Conte observed.

Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc., through its main operating division, is a leader in medicinal plant research and commercialization of proprietary dietary supplements. works collaboratively with indigenous communities to discover, harvest and reforest medicinal plants.

Shaman: Licenses Normal Stool Formula to GNC

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, July 19, PRNewswire -- Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc. through its main operating division , today announced that it has signed a definitive, exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with General Nutrition Corporation (GNC), a member of the Numico family of companies. The final agreement between the two companies will allow GNC to market Shaman’s Normal Stool Formula(TM) (NSF) as an anti-diarrheal dietary supplement product in the health and specialty retail store channels.

NSF will be featured in the GNC’s network of more than 4,200 health food stores, identified as the leader in the specialty retail segment. The retail channel represents approximately 35% of the U.S. supplement business, of which GNC and Numico holds a 42% share. GNC also markets products through its alliance with Rite AID in 500 plus store-in-store locations that are expected to grow to 1,500 locations in the near term, and through . Shaman will retain the right to sell, market and distribute NSF under its own brand, and through direct sell channels such as its websites, and .

GNC plans to initially launch NSF under one of its most successful proprietary brands in the U.S., and is examining the potential opportunities to develop additional markets overseas as well as additional market channels. All licensed product labeling will acknowledge that NSF has been developed by Shaman Pharmaceuticals and will include the company logo.

Under the agreement, Shaman will collaborate with GNC to develop marketing programs designed to maximize the product’s sales potential.

Susan Trimbo, GNC’s Vice President, Scientific Affairs, commented that "This GNC/Shaman collaboration highlights the company’s shared vision of bringing novel, research based dietary supplements to the marketplace."

Lisa Conte, Shaman’s President and CEO, added, "Through GNC & Numico’s multi-channel international presence, Shaman now has the reach to allow consumers to access its clinically tested NSF by the channel of greatest convenience. This is an important event for raising the standards and trust level of the dietary supplement industry."

Normal Stool Formula (NSF), a proprietary botanical dietary supplement that relieves diarrhea, is a standardized extract from the sap of the Croton lechleri tree, that has been used for centuries by traditional healers in the Amazon rainforest to control diarrhea. Unlike most commonly available treatments, which work by reducing bowel motility and often cause uncomfortable constipation, NSF normalizes excess water flow into the intestinal tract and promotes normal stool formation without causing constipation.

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 4,200 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, Fla., sports nutrition leaders Met-Rx and Worldwide Nutrition and the multi-level marketing operation of Enrich International.

Shaman: To Launch New Weight Loss Product

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., July 25, BW HealthWire --, the main operating division of Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced plans to introduce a new weight loss product containing a proprietary ingredient, from its library of 2,600 unique plant species found in the tropical areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Shaman plans to introduce its first weight loss product in tablet form and later potentially in its SynX product line.

Shaman is preparing significant study results of the pre-clinical data for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. A key Shaman goal has been to identify a safe and effective weight loss solution that contains no known stimulants. The plant species from which this ingredient is derived contains no caffeine, no ephedrine, and no other known stimulants.

"Our animal studies at Shaman indicate that this tropical medicinal plant does not cause toxicity yet leads to weight reduction with no change in level of food consumption," said Thomas Carlson, M.D., Vice President of Medical Ethnobotany at Shaman. "As added value, Shaman’s research findings also demonstrated that this botanical remedy lowers glucose in diabetic mice without elevating their insulin, which suggests that this ingredient may also be an insulin sensitizer."

In keeping with Shaman’s rigorous manufacturing and development standards for products clinically tested with humans for safety and efficacy, the Company is about to conduct a human clinical trial to demonstrate that the new proprietary botanical ingredient leads to weight loss equal or superior to results of a major ephedrine product.

"This exciting new product leverages the historical safety of how natural rain forest healers have used it in traditional ways for thousand of years," said Lisa Conte, CEO of Shaman Pharmaceuticals. "We are very pleased to provide a weight loss alternative to ephedrine and caffeine products with no untoward side effects for those who want to remain free of these stimulants."

"Shaman’s stimulant-free natural weight loss products will very likely receive a warm welcome by the dietary supplement industry as an effective solution to weight loss," said Loren Israelsen, President of LDI Group, a Salt Lake City, Utah based firm which consults to the dietary supplement industry.

"We expect to expand this product line into a wide array of weight loss products downstream that will satisfy our customer’s unmet needs," said Lisa Conte, CEO of Shaman Pharmaceuticals. "Moreover, our timing is important. On August 7, 2000, the California Senate Appropriations Committee will consider Assembly Bill 2204 which imposes significant restrictions on the advertising, labeling, marketing and manufacturing of dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids. Even more important is the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) call to receive comments on ephedrine at its public meetings in Washington D.C. August 8th and 9th on the heels of the California legislation. With or without legislative regulation of ephedrine products, Shaman’s product will stand out as a safe and effective option."

Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc., through its main operating division, is a leader in medicinal plant research and commercialization of proprietary dietary supplements. works collaboratively with indigenous communities to discover, harvest and reforest medicinal plants.

Shaman: Announces Launch of Direct-Sell Cable Program

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Jul 27, BW HealthWire --, the main operating division of Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced the launch of the Company’s new direct-sell cable program at a New York luncheon of financial investors and media on Wednesday July 26th. The premier of the program is scheduled for August 4th and is targeted to audiences of health-care professionals and patient community groups, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome support groups, interested in novel agents to manage diarrhea. The program features Shaman’s proprietary product, NSF-IB, a unique anti-diarrheal that relieves recurring diarrhea and the resultant abdominal discomfort or symptoms typically associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other intestinal disorders. NSF-IB works by normalizing ion balance in the intestine through an anti-secretory mechanism. NSF-IB, which is targeted toward the seriously ill patient population, is a line extension of the Company’s Normal Stool Formula, NSF(TM).

"The market opportunity for Shaman’s NSF-IB is huge," said Lisa Conte, Shaman’s President and CEO. "One hundred million people suffer from multiple forms of diarrhea in the U.S., including medication-induced diarrhea, chemotherapy/radiation-induced diarrhea, HIV-related diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other serious diarrheas. Many of these patients suffer in silence. NSF-IB relieves diarrhea without causing constipation and allows patients the freedom of being able to take the product for long periods of time with no untoward effect or interference with other medications they might be on."

Shaman recently presented a scientific poster on the significant results of their pivotal Phase III human clinical trial on the safety and efficacy of SP-303, a compound extracted from Croton lechleri which is the principal ingredient in NSF-IB. "This study showed that a group of 400 chronically ill subjects tolerated treatment well and that it was effective with no adverse events or laboratory abnormalities compared to the placebo group," said Thomas Carlson, M.D., Vice President of Medical Ethnobotany at Shaman.

Carlson also noted that a scientific poster presented at the XIII International Medical Conference in Durban, South Africa reported similar results in a study of chronically ill individuals treated with NSF. This 12-month study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center assessed the long-term efficacy and safety of the NSF extract in 20 subjects. Results showed that even in subjects who continued daily therapy for over 10 months, no serious adverse events or significant laboratory changes were attributable to the product.

"The direct-sell cable program, with it’s before and after customer testimonials and discussion with principle investigators Dr. Herbert Dupont, Professor of Medicine, University of Texas, Houston Medical School, and Dr. Johannes Koch, San Francisco General, is powerful tool to put in front of health care professionals and support groups of seriously ill patients," said Marc Sirockman, National Sales Manager, NSF-IB. "With NSF-IB, we are addressing the needs of those who struggle with recurring diarrhea by offering a Freedom Plan, which provides price relief to those who commit to long-term purchase plans. NSF-IB also has a money-back guarantee, to encourage people to take advantage of this opportunity to reclaim the control to lead their lives with freedom and dignity again."

At the luncheon meeting, Conte also recapped the terms of the exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with General Nutrition Corporation (GNC) to market Shaman’s NSF(TM) in GNC’s health and specialty retail store channels, which increases Shaman’s retail access for NSF by 500 percent. Conte also reviewed Shaman’s plans to introduce its first weight loss product, a non-ephedrine based, safe and effective weight loss solution. This product will initially be sold in tablet form then later in the SynX dietary product line.

Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc., through its main operating division, is a leader in medicinal plant research and commercialization of proprietary dietary supplements. works collaboratively with indigenous communities to discover, harvest and reforest medicinal plants.

SmithKline: First Herbal Treatment Targets Sleep Troubles

By Otesa Middleton

WASHINGTON, July 27, Dow Jones -- SmithKline Beecham PLC’s (SBH) Alluna Sleep herbal supplement probably won’t show big numbers on the pharmaceutical giant’s bottom line.

Although the entry into herbals broadens SmithKline’s offerings and increases its presence throughout the health care market, "pharmaceuticals is where the money is," said Ryan Beck/Southeast Research pharmaceutical analyst Le Anne Zhao.

However, with the supplement market’s annual sales expected to be near $16 billion by year’s end, the company’s foray into supplements is understandable.

Zhao said SmithKline likely entered the herbal arena because its competitors began offering herbals.

American Home Products Corp.’s (AHP) well-known vitamin line, Centrum, began making herbal supplements last year, while Pfizer Inc. (PFE) inherited the Quanterra line of herbals when it merged with Warner-Lambert.

SmithKline, which had $3.2 billion in sales for the second quarter of this year, launched Alluna Sleep, the company’s first herbal, in March after partnering with the product’s Swiss manufacturer.

Jenny Davidson, Alluna’s brand manager at SmithKline, said the company chose the product after years of research.

"When we decided to market an herbal, we first conducted research to find what consumers wanted," Davidson said.

Most people were interested in a remedy to help them sleep, she said.

"We evaluated hundreds of herbal combinations throughout the world," Davidson said.

SmithKline then chose a product which combines valerian and hops extract.

Herbal supplements aren’t regulated the way drugs are. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require clinical trials to prove the product is safe and effective.

Davidson said Alluna Sleep was tested in 3,447 patients who took two tablets at bedtime. The study didn’t compare the supplement to an inactive placebo pill or to another proven sleep aid, as would have been required if it were a drug.

"After taking it, 32.5% of patients were able to sleep through the night, compared with 7.6% at the outset of the study," Davidson said.

SmithKline has begun promoting the product with national television, radio and print ads targeting consumers and pharmacists.

Davidson wouldn’t divulge Alluna Sleep’s sales so far, but said they are meeting the company’s expectations.

Twinlab: Sales and Earnings Down in 2000

NEW YORK, July 25, Dow Jones -- Twinlab Corp. of Hauppage, N.Y., reported sharply lower second quarter sales from $74 million in 1999 to $60 million this year. Profits declined from $1.8 million in 1999 to $361,000 in the latest quarter. Six month sales are down to $139 million from $145 million in 1999.

Twinlab said earnings were hurt by an inventory reduction, the realignment of a product mix, and lower domestic sales in its Changes network marketing unit.

Twinlab makes nutritional supplements, including vitamins and minerals, nutraceuticals, herbs and sports nutrition products.

WellMed: Offers Relief From Allergies and Asthma With New AdvancedHQs

PORTLAND, Ore., July 26, PRNewswire -- WellMed, Inc., today announced the launch of the AdvancedHQs for allergies and asthma*two interactive, Web-based health modules that provide consumers with information on how to recognize and manage symptoms. AdvancedHQs include an assessment quiz followed by individualized responses containing conventional and complementary treatment recommendations.

The AdvancedHQs for allergies and asthma are the newest addition to the WellMed Personal Health Manager. This online suite of consumer health management tools -- licensed to health organizations, corporations, and portals -- can be viewed at Companies currently using WellMed AdvancedHQs for allergies and asthma include, Medical Quest, Project Sunshine,, and

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, about 40 million Americans suffer from allergies. Seasonal allergies cost more than $4.5 billion in medical care annually. Asthma is the only chronic disease, besides AIDS and tuberculosis, with an increasing death rate. Adults who suffer from allergies are three times more likely to develop asthma according to study findings published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

"As allergies and the diagnosis of asthma continue to rise, it is important that individuals are informed about symptoms and the treatments of these conditions," said Colleen Horn of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation. "Although interactive tools, such as WellMed’s AdvancedHQs, should not replace a doctor’s diagnosis, they do help individuals proactively assess their symptoms and learn about various treatment options so they can begin an informed dialogue with their health provider."

Developed through clinically-based tests such as the "Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma" published by the National Institutes of Health, WellMed AdvancedHQs deliver personalized health profiles and information based on the user’s answers to comprehensive questionnaires. These medically-valid, interactive tools evaluate the unique health status of each user, recommend next steps for better health, offer treatment options and provide tailored health content to assist in making decisions about health management.

"With health, everyone has different needs and treatment preferences," said Brad Bowman, M.D., founder and chief science officer at WellMed. "We have taken our goal of personalization to a new level by delivering a variety of treatment options and ranking them based on the user’s preferences*such as cost, convenience, and type of treatment ranging from more traditional to integrative, homeopathic treatments. WellMed’s tools are an excellent alternative to traditional health risk assessments that may not provide consumers with relevant recommendations."

The WellMed AdvancedHQ for allergies assesses the type of allergies a user may have, such as pollen, outdoor or indoor environmental threats, and provides a detailed report describing next steps. For asthma, the AdvancedHQ helps users who have not been diagnosed with the condition to identify triggers and symptoms. Individuals dealing with asthma may find new information regarding condition management and treatment options. Additional resources, such as relevant articles, books, and videos, enable users to further educate themselves on these conditions.

"WellMed’s AdvancedHQ for allergies provided me the second opinion and support I have been seeking. I see an allergist on a regular basis, but I wanted to reconfirm the recommendations and information he has given me," said LaTanya Williams-Monroe of Long Beach, CA. "Over the years I have had many serious allergy related problems. WellMed’s list of treatment choices echoes my doctor’s recommendations, while giving me some additional sources to consider."

Throughout this year, WellMed will launch 24 additional AdvancedHQs that include osteoporosis, depression, diabetes, arthritis, stress, and chronic fatigue. AdvancedHQs provide a wide range of treatment options for conditions for individuals interested in conventional treatments, herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, psychotherapy and homeopathy. Recommendations from AdvancedHQs do not serve as an alternative to a physician’s diagnosis, but as an opportunity for individuals to take a team approach with their care provider to manage and improve their health.

WellMed, Inc., founded in 1993, is the leading provider of online consumer health management products and services that allow people to assess, record and improve their health on a daily basis. WellMed is a privately held company headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

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