Richters HerbLetter 98/10/14

Conrad Richter conradr at interlog.com
Thu Oct 15 18:43:11 EST 1998


-----------------------  Richters HerbLetter  ------------------------- 
  Published by:   Richters, Specializing in the World of Herbs 
                  Goodwood, Ontario L0C 1A0, Canada 
  Editor:         Conrad Richter <conrad at richters.com> 
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------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
Date: 98/10/14 
 
Contents 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
1.  Allheal Found Effective Against Herpes 
2.  Health Canada Foaming over Body Shop's Hemp 
3.  Norway Gets Tough on Khat 
4.  Swiss Case Tests Legality of Selling Marijuana as 'Potpourri' 
5.  Busted for Possession of Herbs  
6.  Trade in Bark Treatment for Prostate Cancer Threatens Tree 
7.  Bio-pirates Stealing Traditional Wisdom Say Sri Lankan Scientists  
8.  Big Companies Reap Big Profits from African Herbal Knowledge 
9.  Herbal Remedies Offer New Opportunities for South Africa 
10. Pharmaceutical-Style Testing Promoted By Booming Herb Industry 
11. German E Monographs Selling Well, Herbal PDR Soon to Be Available 
12. Herb Business News 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
***           C o m e   t o   t h e   3 r d   A n n u a l           *** 
***  Richters Commercial Herb Growing Conference -Oct. 24- Toronto  *** 
***   http://www.richters.com or email to conference at richters.com   *** 
***       Late addition: Robert Seidel, Essential Oil Company       *** 
***          On growing herbs for the essential oil market          *** 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
1.  Allheal Found Effective Against Herpes 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
    TORONTO, Oct 3, Globe and Mail -- A traditional Chinese remedy may 
help treat the sysmptoms of herpes.  Spencer Lee and Song Lee of the Queen 
Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax say an extract of the plant 
Prunella vulgaris [commonly known as allheal] helps speed up the healing 
of sores on both the genitals and around the mouth. They believe it works 
by stopping the virus from growing within cells and by preventing it from 
binding to cells.  
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
2.  Health Canada Foaming over Body Shop's Hemp 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
By Kevin McGran 
 
    TORONTO, Oct 6, Canadian Press -- The Body Shop couldn't have found a 
better way to create a buzz about its new line of hemp skin-care products 
than to have the federal Health Department threaten to seize the goods if 
they showed up in stores.  
 
    The Body Shop, its hand forced by the government warning issed 
Friday, converted its product launch this week into a joint information 
session on the value -- and legality -- of hemp.  
 
    "I don't know of another member of the vegetable kingdom that has been 
so maligned and misunderstood," said Anita Roddick, founder of the The 
Body Shop International.  
 
    It is legal in Canada to grow hemp and sell its byproducts, including 
clothing, beer and skin creams.  
 
    And hemp is a low-cost, high-yield, environmentally sound plant that 
is a lifeline to struggling farmers.  Hemp requires very little in the way 
of pesticides or fungicides, converts greenhouse gases and actually 
improves the soil.  
 
    But its historical relationship to marijuana -- even though hemp 
doesn't provide a high -- seems to be creating some paranoia as hemp 
products move from the head shops to major retailers.  
 
    "We were told by Health Canada if we moved the product from the 
warehouse to the shops, Health Canada may sieze them," said Margot 
Frannsen, president of The Body Shop Canada.  "And that, although we were 
absolutely within the law, they suggested very strongly that we do not 
carry on with the product launch." 
 
    Federal health officials declined comment yesterday. Spokeman Derek 
Kent said they were in meetings over the hemp issue.  
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
3.  Norway Gets Tough on Khat 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
   NAIROBI, Oct 12, All Africa News Agency -- Norway is getting tough on 
khat (or miraa), a herbal amphetamine whose leaves are routinely chewed by 
tens of thousands of users in Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Yemeni, Zanzibar, 
Tanzania, Djibouti, Ethiopia and a number of European countries, notably 
Britain. 
 
   According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, two travellers, 
Jennifer Mankuso and an elderly man who arrived in Norway in mid September 
from Britain carrying 32 kilograms and 17 kilogrammes of khat for Somali 
friends resident in the Nordic country, found themselves in jail. Norway 
considers khat to be a prohibited narcotic. 
 
   The elderly courier said he had hoped to make US$450 for his trouble, 
which he had planned to use to build the grave of his wife who died last 
year.  
 
   Other sources say a number of Somalis and other Africans are held in 
Norwegian prisons after they were found with consignments of khat which 
they thought was legal, since it is not banned in the UK and other western 
nations.  In Britain, as in Kenya and Somalia, khat is sold openly in the 
markets mainly used by the Somali and Yemeni communities. 
 
   The last time Britain attempted to ban the use of khat was in 1954 in 
what used to be their colony, Aden, now part of a unified Yemeni Republic. 
It created so much ill feeling that the British soon back- tracked. The 
Yemenis argued successfully that chewing khat has always been part of 
their culture.  
 
   Khat growers in Meru District on the foothills of Mount Kenya do 
booming business each year with their khat consignments being flown to 
Somalia on chartered planes through Nairobi's Wilson Airport. Aircraft and 
consignments arriving at various destinations are guarded by factional 
fighters, an indication of the importance of the commodity in the Somali 
markets. 
 
   Although it has not been banned in many countries, long term chewing of 
khat does have a number of negative repercussions. For example a number of 
Somali women complain that their husbands neglect their families, choosing 
to spend all their energies in khat chewing sessions. Others suffer 
periodic depression as a result of this drug. 
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
4.  Swiss Case Tests Legality of Selling Marijuana as 'Potpourri' 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
By Marcus Kabel 
 
    ZURICH, Oct 12, Reuters -- In little shops springing up around 
Switzerland, you can buy all the marijuana you want. You just aren't 
supposed to smoke it.  
 
     Drugs made from the hemp plant are illegal in Switzerland, as in most 
countries, but a turn of phrase in Swiss lawbooks leaves open a loophole 
by prohibiting trade in marijuana only if it is sold specifically as a 
narcotic.  
 
     Enterprising hemp retailers are testing the limits of the law by 
selling marijuana as potpourri, or dried hemp packed in small cloth bags 
as an herbal room scent and labelled "not for consumption."  
 
     But after three years of rapid growth, dozens of hemp shops could be 
facing imminent closure as prosecutors in Zurich take one shop owner to 
court in a test case.  
 
     "I don't accept responsibility for misuse of the product," says Bruno 
Hiltebrand, who is due in court on October 16 to face charges of selling 
marijuana as a narcotic.  
 
     Hiltebrand, a 39-year-old pixie-like figure with spiky hair dyed 
bright blond, sells 22 varieties of Swiss-grown hemp at between 20 and 100 
Swiss francs ($15-75) per sachet with names like "Juicy Fruit," "Lemon 
Skunk" and "Organic Northern Light."  
 
     Hiltebrand echoes the standard defence that others in the new Swiss 
hemp trade have been using since a few growers and their friends came up 
with the idea in the mid-1990s.  
 
     The argument is simple. The potpourri sachets are legal, the shop 
owners say, because they are sold for aroma therapy and expressly marked 
as not for consumption as a drug.  
 
     What the buyer does at home with the contents is outside the vendor's 
control, they say.  
 
     "If the police catch a Porsche driver going over the speed limit, 
they don't punish the car salesman," Hiltebrand said. "If we get a 
customer who says they want something to smoke, we tell them firmly that 
we don't have anything to smoke, just aroma sachets."  
 
  - Prosecutors Reject Vendor's Argument - 
 
     This is a line that prosecutors in Zurich, Switzerland's biggest 
city, are no longer willing to accept.  
 
     "After carefully reviewing the legal situation, the district 
prosecutor's office believes the law is very clear," said Prosecutor Max 
Spoerri.  
 
     Consumption of marijuana is illegal and so is its sale for 
consumption, he said.  
 
     "I am convinced this case will be decisive regardless of which way 
the verdict goes," Spoerri said.  
 
     If the court finds Hiltebrand guilty of trafficking in commercial 
narcotics and the verdict is upheld on appeal, then prosecutors across 
Switzerland will file similar charges aimed at shutting down other hemp 
shops, Spoerri says.  
 
     If the verdict is not guilty, then politicians will probably start 
work quickly on rewording the law to seal the loophole, according to the 
head of the Swiss Federal Health Agency.  
 
     "It is no secret that we have been watching the development of so 
many hemp shops in Switzerland with some concern," said the agency's 
director Thomas Zeltner. "Hemp as a narcotic is prohibited by Swiss law 
and the idea is that it should stay prohibited."  
 
   - Other Products - 
 
     From a handful two or three years ago, the number of hemp sachet 
shops has grown to around 160 and is growing by about 50 per year, 
according to experts.  
 
     Besides the aroma sachets, most hemp shops sell a wide range of less 
controversial products from clothes made of hemp fibre to hemp 
seed-flavoured ice cream.  
 
     The fact that these shops were selling marijuana from Swiss fields 
and greenhouses started making headlines in 1997. Zurich prosecutors 
opened their investigation after a critical story in the conservative Neue 
Zuercher Zeitung newspaper.  
 
     "The cause was various complaints, for example from parents who were 
upset that their children were spending their entire pocket money in these 
shops,"  Spoerri said.  
 
     "Even the police in (neighbouring) southern Germany complained that 
people were coming back with marijuana from here and so did police in 
northern Italy."  
 
     Spoerri is seeking a 14-month suspended sentence for Hiltebrand, a 
fine of 20,000 Swiss francs and a further 100,000 Swiss francs in alleged 
illegal profits.  
 
     The figure of 100,000 francs is Spoerri's estimate of the net profit 
Hiltebrand's shop earned on hemp sachet sales of 195,000 francs from the 
start of the investigation in August 1997 to April, when charges were 
filed.  
 
     Hiltebrand's shop "James Blunt" is typical of the genre, a small and 
crowded storefront in a side street behind the city's central train 
station.  
 
     Its plate glass windows are painted with the names of ailments 
allegedly treatable by inhaling the aroma of bagged hemp -- everything 
from sleeplessness and irritability to impotence and hair loss.  
 
     "I have loved hemp for a long, long time," says Hiltebrand.  
 
     "That's why I opened this business, because I saw that other people 
were doing it and not having any legal problems."  
 
     Spoerri says it was probably a mistake to let the hemp sachet 
business flourish for so long before intervening.  
 
     The Zurich local court is due to reach its verdict on or shortly 
after Friday's one-day hearing.  
 
     But a final decision could be delayed by months or even years through 
appeals all the way to the Swiss supreme court, leaving time for the 
active community of Swiss hemp farmers to find other ways to dispose of 
their harvest.  
 
     "Experience teaches us that hemp growers have a very active 
imagination when it comes to finding new ways to market their product," 
said Zeltner.  
   
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
5.  Busted for Possession of Herbs  
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
    VINITA, Okla., Oct 2, AP -- A driving-under-the-influence case against 
a black man who was busted with what turned out to a bag of organically 
grown herbs has been dismissed.  
 
   District Judge Harry Wyatt on Friday threw out the case against George 
Singleton in the midst of the trial, saying prosecutors hadn't presented 
enough evidence for the jury.  
 
   Among other things, blood tests showed no evidence of any intoxicating 
substance in Singleton's blood. The only prosecution witness was a trooper 
who wrote in his report that Singleton was unsteady on his feet and had 
bloodshot eyes and slurred speech when he was pulled over.  
 
   Singleton's lawyer had claimed that the only reason police pursued the 
charge was that Singleton is black and has hip-length dreadlocks.  
 
   "It makes us look like a bunch of rednecks," defense attorney James 
Hadley said of the case. "This guy was being persecuted rather than 
prosecuted."  
 
   Singleton, 49, of Dummerston, Vt., could have received a year in jail 
and a $1,000 fine if convicted.  
 
   Highway Patrol Trooper Alvin Lavender pulled over Singleton in 
February, saying he was weaving and speeding.  
 
   Lavender seized a bag of what looked like marijuana, but it turned out 
to be rosemary and another herb, mullein, that Singleton said he uses to 
treat his tuberculosis. Blood tests turned up negative, but prosecutors 
pursued driving-under-the-influence charges anyway.  
 
   The witnesses for the defense included a jailer who said Singleton did 
not appear intoxicated when he was booked Feb. 27.  
 
   Singleton helped found Hope-LA-USA in 1992, a national group that tries 
to get teen-age gang members involved in organic gardening. He was 
returning from working with gangs in California when he was arrested.  
  
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
6.  Trade in Bark Treatment for Prostate Cancer Threatens Tree 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
    NAIROBI, Oct 8, The Nation -- The Prunus africana tree, which is the 
source of the most potent and effective treatment for prostate cancer, is 
highly endangered by booming trade in its bark in Europe, experts have 
warned. 
 
   The annual over-the-counter trade in prunus-based remedies is estimated 
at $220 million, according to Icraf's Tony Simons. In Germany, aging men 
spent $150 million in 1994 alone on prunus treatments for prostate cancer.  
 
   "There is no doubt that the market for herbal treatments for urological 
and prostatic problems is lucrative," says Mr Simons. 
 
   He says with the rising incident of prostate problems as a greater 
proportion of the population enters the elderly age bracket, coupled with 
a growing confidence in herbal treatments, the market for prunus- based 
medicines is likely to double or triple within the next ten years.  
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
7.  Bio-pirates Stealing Traditional Wisdom Say Sri Lankan Scientists  
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
    COLOMBO, Oct 8, IPS -- Long before the arrival of Western drugs, 
indigenous doctors pounded and prepared medicine from wild plants and 
flowers gathered from Sri Lanka's thick tropical forests to treat a 
variety of illnesses.  
 
   The ancient formulations of the "ayurveda" system of medicine were 
zealously guarded and passed on from one generation to the next in 
families that could trace back their ancestry for many centuries.  
 
   In the northcentral town of Polonnaruwa an indigenous doctor treats 
patients with heart problems who would otherwise require bypass surgery 
for a fraction of the cost of surgery which is at least $4,500 in 
hospitals in the country. 
 
   Now giant global pharmaceutical drug companies, aware of the 
therapeutical qualities of medicinal plants, are virtually stealing this 
ancient wisdom by extracting chemicals from local plants and patenting it 
abroad, particularly in the United States.  
 
   Upali Pilapitiya, director of the Bandaranaike Memorial Ayurveda 
Research Institute, says that the tremendous interest in the West about 
natural Ayurvedic remedies, has led to a growing interest in Asia's 
indigenous plant life. 
 
   Studies have revealed that more than 40 percent of western 
pharmaceutical products contain Asian plant extracts but these Asian 
countries including Sri Lanka have earned very little in return.  
 
   Export of medicinal plants or their extracts is banned in Sri Lanka.  
However bio-piracy is flourishing, quite often with the assistance of Sri 
Lankans who have no qualms of selling indigenous knowledge and innovation. 
Last month, a university professor and another wealthy Sri Lankan, whose 
wife is a social activist, were detained for bio-piracy by security 
personnel. 
 
   "Loopholes in existing law s and other legal snags are robbing the 
country of millions of dollars that is rightfully ours,"  asserts Sirimal 
Premakumara, a scientist at the Ceylon Institute of Scientific and 
Industrial Research. 
 
   He said that since the country does not have the hi-tech scientific 
equipment to analyze chemical components of indigenous plants or the 
capacity to pay the international patent fee of $60,000, wealthy countries 
are taking advantage. 
 
   For instance Salacil reticulata, the scientific name for the locally 
grown Kothalahimbutu plant, has been recognized abroad for its ability to 
control diabetes. Ayurveda physicians in Sri Lanka have always advised 
patients to drink water left overnight in a hand-carved Kothalahimbutu mug 
or jug, whose production has become a cottage industry in the island. 
 
   Newspapers here report that a Japanese drug company patented a product 
based on this herb through the American Chemical Society last year.  
 
   Many other patents, like from the plant Weniwalgeta -- used effectively 
as a herbal remedy for fever, coughs and colds -- have been registered by 
Japanese, European and U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers. 
 
   Environmental lawyer Jagath Gunawardene says, "although the law 
requires that a patent can be obtained only if it is an economically 
valuable invention created through a methodology, most multinationals have 
somehow obtained patents for products used in our country for thousands of 
years."  
 
   Scientists say that the normal ruse adopted by drug transnationals is 
to befriend an indigenous doctor, learn the curative properties of plants 
and sometimes offer him a trip abroad. The process of extraction of the 
chemical and export of the product which is often in the form of a powder, 
chemical solvent or the bark of trees, follows.  
 
   The two recent cases of biopiracy last month involving a university 
botanist and a wealthy Sri Lankan got wide publicity and led to a sudden 
interest in the issue by environmentalists and scientists here.  
 
   The botanist was intercepted by customs at Colombo airport trying to 
smuggle some plant extracts in his suitcase. In the same month, customs 
officials discovered a container load of Kothalahimbutu -- 1,512 cups 
weighing some 4 tons -- being shipped to Japan through a firm owned by the 
wealthy Sri Lankan. 
 
   Gunawardene feels that the laws should be strengthened to prevent the 
smuggling of Sri Lanka's indigenous plants and ayurvedic knowledge.  
 
   Normally, product patents are given only if they fulfill the criteria 
of being new, specify the process and must necessarily have commercial 
value.  If there are discrepancies in this process, the patent can be 
contested in court.  
 
   Like in the case of the U.S patent for turmeric which was successfully 
challenged by India on the grounds that its medicinal properties are well 
known since ancient times.  
 
   However, because India has no worthwhile law to protect its rich 
biodiversity or intellectual property rights another U.S company earlier 
this year took out patents on long-grain basmati rice grown for centuries 
by farmers in India and Pakistan. 
 
   Developing countries, rich in indigenous resources, need to tighten 
biodiversity laws to stop the usurpation of the resources and knowledge of 
its people, Sri Lankan scientists say. 
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
8.  Big Companies Reap Big Profits from African Herbal Knowledge 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
By Isabirye Musoke  
 
   KAMPALA, Oct 4, The Monitor -- My brother-in-law's mother was murdered 
a few years ago during the rainy season at her home in a remote village in 
Mityana, Mubende district.  
 
   The muddy roads were impassable and therefore the police took more than 
two weeks to reach the scene of crime, take finger-prints, if any, and 
other material evidence to help in the investigations. 
 
   The relatives and village Local Council officials decided not to tamper 
with the body as it was discovered in the sitting room of a simple mud and 
wattle, grass-thatched house of the 75-year-old victim. 
 
   However, they spread a leafy plant around the body. When we arrived at 
the scene, the body it its tattered clothes was dry and intact. There was 
no sign of decomposing at all. 
 
   No flies attempting to desecrate the body, or any strong, bad smell 
that's associated with death. 
 
   Because it was a sad moment, I didn't have the opportunity to inquire 
about the names of the tree which were used to preserve the body in that 
simple but effective way. 
 
   Now I regret this - because humanity is now the poorer without that 
traditional information of local medicine.  
 
   Before European civilisation descended on Africa, natives had a tested 
system of traditional medicine which was passed from generation to 
generation by word of mouth. 
 
   Even now, remote areas of Uganda which are still cut off from modern 
hospitals and clinics are thriving on traditional knowledge of medicinal 
plants and herbs. 
 
   But these plants are disappearing at an alarming rate, threatening 
future food supplies and the invention of new drugs. 
 
   The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns that 
since the beginning of the Century about 75 percent of the world's crop 
plant varieties have become extinct, and around 50,000 disappear every 
year all over the world as man encroaches on forest and marshlands. 
 
   It is believed thousands and thousands of useful medicinal plants and 
herbs disappeared from the surface of the earth when the rain-forest was 
destroyed in North Africa to give way to the Sahara desert. 
 
   Ancient Egyptians, for example, had a herbal drug they extracted from a 
plant which was used to embalm bodies.  
 
   Some of the mummies discovered in archeological sites are more than 
2,000 years old and can be presented today in top form.  
 
   That drug is of course, extinct - along with those who had knowledge of 
it. 
 
   There are many useful medicinal plants and herbs still existing in 
Uganda and yet our celebrated scientists and researchers have neglected 
their existence, let alone their relevance to mankind. 
 
   Many of us have been so brain-washed by the Western civilisation that 
we now despise anything African. There's this plant which is usually found 
in front of the main door of most rural houses to prevent mosquitoes from 
entering. 
 
   The plant has flowers which, during the rainy season, emit a very 
strong though nice smell which repels mosquitoes and other dangerous 
insects and snakes. But I've also been told that the scent of this plant 
is bad for people who are asthmatic. There are also plants in rural areas 
which, I've been told, can ward off green house-flies. 
 
   There are certain medicinal plants whose leaves can be squeezed in 
water and drunk to cure such ailments like malaria and even provide 
immunity from the disease for several years. 
 
   Before Viagra stole the world show, we had here in Uganda a herb called 
omusongola which was as effective as viagra (perhaps more) and there were 
no reported deaths by users. 
 
   Moreover, as our indigenous scientists and researchers continue to 
neglect our biological heritage, scientists and researchers from powerful 
multinationals are descending on local unsuspecting herbalists and 
traditional healers, offering them peanuts and shipping away this 
billion-dollar information. 
 
   Over 90 percent of plant species are located in Africa, Asia and Latin 
America. Yet this multi-billion dollar market has been cornered by large 
transnational corporations, mostly from the North, bent on patenting 
everything from traditional pest-resistant seeds to human cells.  
 
   International patent law remains open to interpretation, but it is 
usually the local farmers, herbalists and traditional healers in the south 
who get the raw deal. 
 
   A recent study indicates that if transnational corporations paid 
developing countries and indigenous people royalties on the plant 
varieties and local knowledge they have used, it would amount to $5. 4 
billion a year - by modest estimates. 
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
9.  Herbal Remedies Offer New Opportunities for South Africa 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
By Louise Cook  
 
   PRETORIA, Sept 30, Business Day -- South Africa has the potential to 
become a world leader in the development of medicinal products from 
indigenous plants, Ben van Wyk, head of the Rand Afrikaans University 
botany department, said yesterday. 
 
   Van Wyk, set to deliver the key-note address at the inaugural meeting 
of a new association for crop research in South Africa, is confident the 
increasing popularity of herbal remedies as alternatives to chemical drugs 
could make South Africa a world player in phytomedicines. 
 
   "It is of the utmost importance to promote the local innovation and not 
merely to become the source of cheap raw materials for the sophisticated 
and booming European and American phytomedicines markets.  We have the 
advantage of a rich plant diversity, access to markets and local 
scientific expertise to ensure only quality products are released."  
 
   However, the method of sorting out the legal implications of marketing 
the products was still uncertain.  
 
   This was to ensure that local experts on indigenous material - mostly 
rural communities, tribal doctors and African farmers - received their 
fair share in royalties and were protected against commercial 
exploitation.  
 
   An arts, science and technology parliamentary committee was considering 
new legislation to enforce protection. 
 
   Van Wyk said most of the plants involved were being sold on global 
markets already. 
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
10. Pharmaceutical-Style Testing Promoted By Booming Herb Industry 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
By Lauran Neergaard 
 
   WASHINGTON, Oct 13, AP -- Just as wine varies from vineyard to vineyard 
and melons from one field are sweet while those from another are 
tasteless, herbs' ingredients vary from batch to batch -- and millions of 
consumers have little way of knowing just what they're getting.  
 
   Now the herbal supplement industry is attempting to counter growing 
complaints with science: A fledgling movement uses pharmaceutical-style 
testing to ensure consumers get the ingredients they pay for -- and might 
even turn some popular herbs into prescription drugs.  
 
   "We're trying to give people some rational basis" for choosing to take 
a particular herb, said Bernie Landes, chief executive of Paracelsian 
Inc., which looks for the active ingredients that make herbs work.  
 
   "We want to be the Underwriters Laboratory for herbals," said Elliot 
Friedman, who heads competitor PharmaPrint Inc., which just announced its 
testing had discovered that five ingredients may help St. John's wort ease 
depression -- not the lone ingredient advertised by most herbal brands.  
 
   Americans are expected to spend $4.3 billion this year on herbal 
supplements such as saw palmetto, ginseng and others that promise to do 
everything from lifting depression and shrinking men's swollen prostates 
to fighting colds and easing stress.  
 
   So far, there's little scientific proof behind many of the claims of 
better health. But if an herb does help, consumers would need a 
"standardized"  brand that carries a consistent dose of the ingredients 
that make it work.  
 
   St. John's wort, for example, has made headlines when laboratory tests, 
including one recently commissioned by the Los Angeles Times, found 
competing brands often don't contain levels of the active ingredient 
hypericin promised on the bottle. No brand advertises all four additional 
ingredients that PharmaPrint claims consumers also need.  
 
   Testing is "a step in the right direction," said Dr. H.B. Matthews of 
the National Institutes of Health, which organized a meeting last month 
where scientists demanded better quality from the booming industry -- and 
stressed the need for standardization. Among some brands, "the contents 
vary by as much as tenfold," he said.  
 
   The companies haven't yet proved their methods work, Matthews 
cautioned.  
 
   "It's alluring," agreed Mark Blumenthal of the nonprofit American 
Botanical Council. "But the proof is going to come in the clinical 
trials," in which companies scientifically test their brands' true effect.  
 
   The two companies are running herbs through the same lab tests that 
prescription medicines must pass -- called bioassays -- to uncover just 
what biologically active ingredients they contain.  
 
   For example, certain test-tube experiments test whether chemicals 
interact with brain pathways involved in depression. If the experiments 
measure a response, that chemical is biologically active.  
 
   Then the companies contract with herb manufacturers to guarantee 
certain brands carry high levels of the most biologically active 
ingredients.  American Home Products next month begins selling six 
PharmaPrint-tested herbs under its popular Centrum supplement brand: 
Echinacea, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, saw palmetto and St. John's wort. 
Paracelsian promises competing brands early next year.  
 
   The companies also plan to seek Food and Drug Administration approval 
to sell the most effective herbs as prescription drugs, so doctors wary of 
the largely unregulated supplements could choose, for a little higher 
price, a fully tested medicine version.  
 
   PharmaPrint has begun clinical trials of its first drug candidate, saw 
palmetto, to measure whether men taking the herbal pills have their 
enlarged prostates shrink more than men who get a dummy pill. Company 
testing shows saw palmetto is biologically active; the question is whether 
the effect is big enough to help.  
 
   There already is some scientific data from Europe, where Germany sells 
herbs as drugs, that some herbs have healthful effects. That data prompted 
the NIH to finance a study starting this winter comparing St. John's wort 
to the prescription anti-depressant Zoloft, to see which better helps 
moderately depressed Americans.  
 
   Such careful studies are new for the U.S. supplement industry, which 
has run largely on folklore.  
 
   But "to assume something the Seminole Indians used for maintaining the 
health of their prostate 500 years ago is identical to something in a 
bottle today -- it really begs the whole issue of science," said 
Paracelsian's Landes.  
  
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
11. German E Monographs Selling Well, Herbal PDR Soon to Be Available 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
     Oct 13, AP -- Doctors urge the millions of Americans who take dietary 
supplements to tell their physicians because the supplements could affect 
their medical care.  Some supplements may interact with prescription drugs 
-- doctors may advise users of the blood thinner Coumadin, for example, 
not to take the herb ginkgo.  
 
   But many doctors have had little information to use in advising 
patients about supplements. Now, they can hunt research about popular 
herbs in two new handbooks that promise to reveal Germany's extensive 
database plus other clinical trials around the world. (In Germany, herbs 
are sold as drugs.)  
 
   "The Complete German Commission E Monographs -- Therapeutic Guide to 
Herbal Medicines," translates the German government's evaluations of herbs 
into English, with charts that let doctors look up herb-drug interactions 
and safety warnings. Compiled by Mark Blumenthal of the nonprofit American 
Botanical Council, the 710-page guide has sold 8,000 copies since August.  
 
   Thousands of doctors know the Physicians' Desk Reference series of 
medicine guides, called the PDR. Next month, the "PDR for Herbals" will be 
published with information on 600 plants, said editor Joerg Gruenwald, a 
Berlin herbal consultant. The guide combines German data with references 
that let doctors track down additional research in evaluating herbs, he 
said.  
  
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
12. Herb Business News 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
Hai-O Enterprise: Chinese Herb Company to Enter Philippines Market  
  
   KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2, Asia Pulse -- The Chinese herbs and medicine 
trading company, Hai-O Enterprise Bhd, planned to expand its business to 
the Philippines next year after successfully making inroads into Thailand 
a year ago, said managing director Tan Kai Hee.  
 
   The company planned to market herbal products as well as lubricant oil 
which it also manufactures in the Philippines, he said after the company's 
annual and extraordinary general meetings here today. 
 
   "We may set up a distribution centre with a local partner, but the 
final decision has not been made," he added.  
 
   Tan said that business in Thailand was encouraging, and Hai-O had 
recorded close to RM3 million in lubricant oil sales last year, more than 
its earlier target of RM1 million. 
 
   For this year, Tan was confident that sales would exceed RM3 million, 
he said. 
 
   "We already have a stable market for the business which we started two 
years ago." 
 
   Hai-O's lubricant oil, under the brand name "Jet Turbo X1000", is 
manufactured in a plant sited in Kelang, Selangor in a venture with an 
American partner.  
 
   Apart from expanding the market for its products, Hai-O will also 
undertake another significant move next year, namely to increase its 
locally-made products. 
 
   "We hope to increase local made products to 80 percent by the end of 
this year from 50 percent now, while imports will account for only 20 
percent by that period," he added. 
 
   According to Tan, this could be done through various ways, such as 
increasing the quantity of local packaging volume with added value, 
although the company still needed to import ingredients required for many 
of its products. 
 
   Asked about the recent government's move to fix the ringgit at RM3.8 
against the U.S dollar, Tan said: "The currency control measures had 
helped to stabilise our cost of business and to enable us to make 
decisions on what we want to do." 
 
   On the company's financial performance, he said it was able to maintain 
its profit amidst the economic slowdown and was confident that it could 
make a profit for the current financial year. 
 
   For the financial year ended April 30, 1998, Hai-O registered a 
turnover of RM138 million representing a slight decrease of 8.36 percent 
compared with RM150.8 million previously. 
 
   The group's pre-tax profit and exceptional items moderated to RM10.1 
million, 38.1 percent lower than the RM16.3 million recorded in the 
previous year. 
 
---- 
Rexall Sundown: Record Fourth Quarter Sales and Earnings Increases 
  
    BOCA RATON, Fla., Oct. 7, PRNewswire -- Rexall Sundown, Inc. (Nasdaq:  
RXSD)  announced today record results for the fourth quarter and fiscal 
year ended August 31, 1998.  
 
    Net sales for the fourth quarter were $153.6 million, reflecting a 73% 
increase over $88.6 million reported in the same period of the prior year.  
Net income of $20.6 million for the three months just ended increased $9.2 
million, or 81%, compared to last year's pro forma fourth quarter. Diluted 
earnings per share for the fourth quarter were $0.28 compared to $0.16 in 
the fourth quarter last year reflecting a 75% increase.  
 
    In making the announcement, Chris Nast, the Company's Chief Executive 
Officer, stated, "We once again achieved outstanding revenue and net 
income growth."  Sales to retailers rose 99% and sales of Rexall Showcase 
International, the Company's Direct Sales division, increased 42% compared 
to the prior year's quarter.  "More impressive is the fact that our fourth 
quarter operating margins of 20.6 percent increased approximately 1.9 
points, compared to the fourth quarter of 1997, during a period where we 
more than doubled our investment in advertising and product development," 
Mr. Nast added.  
 
    For the fiscal year ended August 31, 1998, net sales increased 83% to 
$530.7 million from $290.6 million the previous year.  Mr. Nast said, "We 
continue to achieve a substantially higher sales growth rate compared to 
the overall nutritional industry reflecting our continued success at 
gaining new distribution, broadening distribution within our existing 
accounts, expanding our direct sales distributor base and introducing 
innovative new science-based products."  The Company's Osteo Bi-Flex(TM) 
brand has become the second best-selling national brand supplement in the 
country and the Sundown(R)  vitamin and Sundown(R) herbal lines remain the 
number one selling brands in both units and dollars in the total U.S. 
food, drug and mass markets.  
  
---- 
Pharma Labs: Gets $1.5M Vitamin, Herbal, Aloe Vera Orders 
  
   CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas, Oct 7, Dow Jones -- Pharmaceutical Laboratories 
Inc.  (PHLB)  received a $1.5 million order from SourceCorp Holdings Inc. 
for its liquid vitamin, herbal and aloe vera products. 
 
  In a press release Wednesday, Pharmaceutical Labs said the products will 
be shipped immediately for domestic and international distribution. 
 
  Pharmaceutical Labs also said the alliance could result in "several 
million dollars" of increased sales for 1999. 
 
  SourceCorp Holdings, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., is a multinational company.  
Pharmaceutical Labs specializes in the development, manufacturing and 
marketing of liquid nutritional products. 
 
---- 
Alta Natural Herbs: September Sales Up 42 Percent 
  
    VANCOUVER, Oct 7, Canadian Corp News -- Company Vice President, 
Raymond J. Irvine, is pleased to announce that The Company has recorded 
it's highest sales for any September since becoming publicly traded. Sales 
for September 1998 were reported as $356,496.58. This compares with 
$251,260.00 for the same period in 1997.  
 
   "That is a 42 percent increase in revenue over the same period last 
year,"  said Irvine, "and it's consistent with our sales trend and with 
growth in the multi-billion dollar naturopathic industry overall."  
 
   According to Irvine, "We are seeing increases in sales of products 
across the board and not just in a single product or line."  Although the 
shark cartilage product, Cartilago, remains the company's top seller Alta 
has seen increased interest in all their herbal and sea-based products. 
"That is a sign that the strong upward trends in the US is now reaching 
the Canadian marketplace." according to Company Vice President of Sales, 
Greg Shafransky. 
 
---- 
Natrol: Helps Found Nutritional Alliance  
  
    CHATSWORTH, Calif., Oct 8, Business Wire -- Natrol Inc.  (Nasdaq:NTOL) 
has joined other nutritional-industry leaders to form a new alliance 
created to increase knowledge and awareness of the efficacy and safety of 
herbs, vitamins and other dietary supplements among the medical profession 
and the general public.  
 
     The Corporate Alliance for Integrative Medicine Inc. has been founded 
by 10 of the industry's leading dietary-supplement manufacturers and 
suppliers.  Founding members include Botanicals International, East Earth 
Herbs Inc., Natrol Inc., Nature's Herbs Inc., Nature's Way Products Inc., 
NuSkin Inc., Nutraceutical Inc., Pure World Inc./Madis Botanicals Inc., 
Rexall Sundown Inc.  and Weider Nutrition International Inc.  
 
     Established as a not-for-profit corporation, the Corporate Alliance 
will focus on founding research programs at major universities nationwide.  
These programs will be dedicated to the study of dietary supplements. The 
Corporate Alliance will also fund and develop educational initiatives to 
inform medical professionals and consumers about the results of research 
in these areas.  
 
     According to Jennifer Cooper, president of the alliance: "The 
alliance is strengthened by the participation of major, sometimes 
competitive, leaders of the dietary-supplement industry who agreed to join 
together to promote the finest research and educational initiatives 
possible. We are committed to assisting medical professionals and 
consumers in making the best decisions about dietary."  
 
     "This alliance," said Elliott Balbert, Natrol's president and 
chairman, "confirms our commitment to pursue accurate and scientifically 
valid information in the support and sale of its dietary supplements."  
 
---- 
Alta Natural Herbs: Retail Expansion With Hudson's Bay Co.  
  
    VANCOUVER, Oct 13, Business Wire -- Alta Natural Herbs Raymond J. 
Irvine, Alta Natural Herbs & Supplements Ltd.'s (ASE:AHS)  Vice President, 
reports that The Company has signed a three year license agreement with 
The Hudson's Bay Company of Canada to take over the operation of The 
Vitamin Stores at The Bay.  
 
     The agreement, in which The Company pays a percentage of gross sales 
in lieu of rent, allows Alta to enter the Canadian retail market on a 
large scale, backed by one of the country's most respected retail names, 
without any major cash outlay.  
 
     The three-year agreement commits Alta to opening six stores on or 
before October 15, 1998 and a total of fifteen stores on or before 
November 24, 1998.  
 
     The Company will open a total of forty retail outlets within the 
Hudson's Bay chain in the first year of the agreement. During this 
initrits of expanding into additional Hudson's Bay locations, which are 
not currently served by a Vitamin Store outlet. If attractive, Alta will 
roll out all additional locations on a schedule agreeable to both parties.  
 
     The first six locations scheduled to open October 15th are Surrey BC;  
West Vancouver BC; Coquitlam BC; Victoria BC; Kewlona BC; and Saskatoon 
SK. The second round of openings scheduled on or before November 24, 1998 
are Downtown Vancouver BC; Langley BC; Richmond BC; Burnaby BC; Surrey BC 
(2nd location);  Oakridge (Vancouver's 2nd location); Downtown Calgary, 
AB; Chinook Mall (Calgary's 2nd location); and Downtown Winnipeg, MB. Each 
of these existing fifteen locations currently generates an average of 
$20,000.00 per month in net revenue after license fees.  
 
     "The Company wins big on three fronts." said Irvine "First we now 
capture the full retail margin on all products sold through these 
locations, second we are able to greatly enhance our brand recognition in 
the market by establishing our own retail presence and third, through this 
partnership with a major retailing power such as The Hudson's Bay Company, 
we are moving closer to achieving our goal of becoming a world player in 
the multi-billion dollar natural food supplement industry."  
 
     This move into retailing is the company's first step toward 
establishing a North America wide retail presence.  
  
---- 
Chai-Na-Ta: Announces Supply Agreement with Leiner for Ginseng Extract 
  
   LANGLEY, B.C., Oct. 13, Business Wire -- Chai-Na-Ta Corp. 
(TSE:CC)(Nasdaq:CCCFF) (the "Company") President & CEO, Gerry Gill 
announced today that the Company has entered into a supply agreement with 
Leiner for its standardized high quality North American whole ginseng 
extract powder.  
 
     "We are very pleased that Leiner has chosen Chai-Na-Ta to supply its 
requirements for high quality North American ginseng," Mr. Gill commented.  
"The agreement represents a significant achievement in our strategy to 
expand our presence in North America where the markets for ginseng 
products have tremendous growth potential."  
 
     Chai-Na-Ta's ability to supply ginseng that meets the Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) standards was critical to the Leiner relationship.  
The EPA standard calls for all ginseng products to be non-detectable for 
quintozene, a fungicide used in the growing process, at 10 parts per 
billion (PPB).  This ruling has severely restricted the supply of ginseng 
available to the US manufacturers of ginseng-based products as the 
technology for producing quintozene-free ginseng is not widely available.  
 
     Chai-Na-Ta's standardized North American whole ginseng extract powder 
is processed at one of the only facilities in the world with the advanced 
extraction technology capable of meeting the new EPA requirements.  
 
     Leiner Health Products is based in Carson, California. The company, 
with annual sales in excess of $500 million, manufactures and distributes 
vitamins, minerals, and natural supplements. Chai-Na-Ta will begin 
delivery of the herbal products in October 1998.  
 
     "Our association with Leiner benefits both companies," commented Mr.  
Gill.  "It provides Leiner with a reliable supply of ginseng extract 
powder that meets EPA standards, and forms an important part of 
Chai-Na-Ta's strategy to further shift our product supply to the North 
American market."  
 
     Chai-Na-Ta Corp., based in Langley, British Columbia, is the world's 
largest supplier of North American ginseng. The Company farms, processes, 
and distributes North American ginseng products, and supplies processed 
extract powder to manufacturers of value-added ginseng-based products 
worldwide. 
 
---- 
Herbalife: Launches Herbal Supplement Line for Cold & Flu Season 
  
    LOS ANGELES, Oct. 13, Business Wire -- Herbalife International Inc.  
(Nasdaq NM:HERBA)(Nasdaq NM:HERBB) Wednesday announced that it has 
launched seven innovative natural products within its nutritional and 
personal care categories, including a targeted line of herbal products for 
the upcoming cold and flu season.  
 
     The nutritional introductions include products featuring echinacea 
and garlic, two of the five best-selling herbs in the United States 
according to the Nutrition Business Journal.  
 
     All seven new products were unveiled to 4,500 of Herbalife's top 
leaders from North and South America who attended the North American 
Leadership Development Weekend training event held Oct. 3-4 in San 
Francisco.  
 
     The introductions targeting the fast-growing market for herbal cold 
and flu remedies include Super Echinacea, an immune-support dietary 
supplement featuring the best-selling herb in the United States, 
echinacea; Herbal Throat Spray, an herbal throat medication to help ease 
sore throat discomfort; and Zinc and Echinacea Throat Lozenges, 
honey-lemon-flavored lozenges derived from a blend of herbal supplements 
for soothing relief.  
 
     The cold and flu products are available for purchase individually or 
packaged together within an Immune-Support Kit designed for consumers 
seeking maximum protection against seasonal discomforts.  
 
     "Our new line represents a timely introduction as the upcoming cooler 
weather brings with it a seasonal increase in consumer demand for 
over-the-counter cold remedies," commented Mark Hughes, Herbalife's 
president and chief executive officer.  
 
     "In addition, the introduction of the popular echinacea and garlic 
products exemplifies our commitment to providing Herbalife distributors 
with an increasing selection of leading healthy-lifestyle products to 
better serve their customers."  
 
     Other products introduced include K8, an advanced supplement 
featuring the calming effects of the herb kava kava, which can contribute 
to a feeling of relaxation; Mega Garlic Plus, which combines the natural 
goodness of garlic with a synergistic blend of other herbs; Herbal Aloe 
Body Wash, a gentle liquid cleanser derived from whole-leaf aloe; and 
Herbal Aloe Soothing Spray, which offers the soothing benefits of herbal 
aloe in a gentle spray-on mist.  
 
     The products were launched initially in the United States and will be 
made available to Herbalife distributors in a number of additional 
international markets in the coming months.  
 
     Herbalife International markets nutritional, weight-management and 
personal care products in 38 countries worldwide. Herbalife products are 
available only through a network of independent distributors who purchase 
the products directly from the company.  
  
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
  Richters Herb Catalogue: 103 pages, colour, over 800 herb plants,  
  seeds, and dried herbs. Over 40 new herbs, including rare medicinals  
  aromatics and culinary herbs.  Order catalogue by email at  
  mailto:catalog at richters.com (include name and postal address in  
  message). Or order on the Richters Web page, http://www.richters.com . 
------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
 




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