This past weekend was one of the greatest of my life. June 11 – 14 was the 12th International Herb Symposium at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. The campus is beautifully adorned with a variety of wildlife. Not only was I privileged to be surrounded by such amazing, loving people, I was also honored by winning second place in ‘The Greatest Ever’ Herbal Product Contest.
Today, as the founder of Rogue Herbalist, I am proud to announce that my formula took second place in the category of “Purely Medicinal” at the International Herb Symposium. My silver medal product is simply called Wildcrafted 4 Mushroom Decoction in Rum, which you can find on the Agora page. The mushrooms in this formula were ethically wildcrafted in the forests of New Hampshire. The mushrooms in this tincture are Chaga, Birch polypore, Turkey Tail, and Chicken of the Woods, which were all decocted in deep well water and then tinctured with 40% sugarcane rum.
Many people are not yet aware of this blog or the goal of the Rogue Herbalist idea that I have been working on, but today I am honored and humbled by my four days of life changing experience at the 12th International Herbal Symposium. The vast knowledge of the teachers and the students who attended this symposium was absolutely astounding.
As I walked the beautiful campus of Wheaton College, I was enthralled that eight hundred something people would travel from all over the world to come together in the name of herbalism. The campus of Wheaton College is beautifully adorned with abundant wildlife, making it the perfect place for this event. I was home. I found myself wishing that colleges around the country were like this all year long, and indeed some schools are beginning to look like this.
Sitting in classes with brilliant herbalists like Guido Mase and David Hoffmann, I realized that we are apart of something greater than ourselves. We share a kinship with humans of the past, who sat around the colosseum discussing the very fabric of the universe. Today we have the technology of the 21st century to aid us in our quest, but we carry with us the respect of ancients past.
If you would like to learn more about this idea of Rogue Herbalism, please continue to visit my website http://www.rogueherbalist.com and feel free to like, comment, and share this page with your friends. I can now say that I am an award winning herbal product formulator and that is a title that I do not take lightly. I see this as a sign that I have a duty to continue expanding my herbal knowledge so that I may share it with others. To quote Jeff Carpenter of Zack Woods Herb Farm: “the herbal renaissance is over…it is time for the herbal revolution”.
*This is a republishing of a response I wrote in early 2013*
Recently the New York Times published an opinion piece by Paul Offitt and Sarah Erush that encourages readers to “Skip the Supplements”. This article should not come as a surprise to anyone following industry news, as their have been numerous attack pieces launched against the Natural Products Industry in recent months. Every month it seems, there is a new study that attempts to make vitamins, herbs, and supplements sound like a serious cause for concern. I am very skeptical of many of the comments made in this piece.
In fact the reality of the situation is that each of these studies that have come out have been critiqued and recognized by industry professionals as flawed. The truth of the matter is that the Natural Products Industry, specifically the Vitamin and Supplement Industry has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years and will continue to do so because consumers know that the products work. Consumers buy high end vitamins, supplements and herbal products because they have experienced the benefits of these products first hand and are confident of the quality and efficacy. I know that these products work because I use them first hand, but even more so because I understand how they work. There is an overwhelming abundance of science demonstrating that nutritional supplementation is beneficial for health, this can no longer be disputed.
You do not have to worry about the quality of a higher-end product that you would find in a health food store. In fact, it is unlikely that your local health food store even carries any low quality vitamin or supplement, the kind of which can be found at Wal-Mart and almost assuredly was the sort of product used in these false and purposefully misleading studies.
Please take some time to review some of the literature I have gathered. The links below provide great detail into the recent studies that are being used to demonize the industry. Find attached two articles that explain the high level of standards that a company like Nutraceutical is dedicated to while testing and producing our many supplements. Be sure to ask all of your other vendors if their products also undergo such extensive and thorough testing before reaching the customer.
With all the hubbub going on over Dr. Mehmet Oz being questioned by Senator Claire McCaskill in a recent Senate Subcommittee hearing, it is not surprising to see the corporate media machine jumping on the bandwagon and attacking not only Dr. Oz, but the entire natural products industry itself. What is surprising is that none of the “alternative” media has offered an accurate analysis of what is actually happening, so I felt compelled to write an article about the issue.
For those that don’t know, Dr. Oz is a well renowned heart surgeon with a TV show that has brought him fame similar to that of his progenitor Oprah Winfrey. Dr. Oz is best known for his recommendations of natural products, more specifically those aimed at weight loss. If you are unfamiliar with the natural products industry, allow me to tell you from an insider’s perspective, that Dr. Oz is not a representative of the industry, far from it actually. Go into any health food store and ask the employees what they really think of Dr. Oz, and 9 out 10 people will use phrases like “the bane of my existence” to describe Dr. Oz and his TV show.
The problem with Dr. Oz is that he occasionally does recommend a product that is very effective. Turmeric, Curcuma longa is an ancient medicinal spice that does in fact possess a wide range of medicinal constituents, notably the phenol compound known as Curcumin. However, for every one exceptional natural product that Oz recommends, there are ten other products that are completely out of left field. When raspberry ketones first hit the scene, no one had ever heard of such a thing, but everyone had to have it. This is just one example of the manipulation of the natural products marketplace that is known as the “Oz effect”.
It is my assertion that the purpose of the Dr. Oz platform is to 1) undermine public perception of vitamins, supplements, herbs and other natural products, and 2) encourage public support for more regulatory control over the natural products industry. For anyone who is familiar with the repetitive and illegitimate attacks on the natural products industry, it should be abundantly clear what is happening. It starts with Dr. Oz recommending a product that suddenly sees a huge increase in sales. This creates pop-up companies that sell low quality supplements just to make a quick buck. Then, when these products do not work, it’s onto the next “miracle” or “magic” product.
I have been highly critical of Dr. Oz since I first learned of him. The kind of language he uses to promote products is completely irresponsible. If an herbalist such as myself were to use the language Dr. Oz uses, words like “miracle” and “magic”, I would be sued, arrested and imprisoned for making these claims. However, when the great and powerful Oz uses these phrases, he gets a talking to from Senator Claire McGaskill. The Senator, by the way, has accepted campaign contributions from the likes of Monsanto, Google, Comcast and Boeing. You can see the entire list of Senator McGaskill’s contributors here: http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=2014&cid=N00027694&type=I&newmem=N
It should be quite clear to the thinking individual that the purpose of this hearing was not to protect the consumer, or even make an example out of Dr. Oz, but instead the goal is to shape the opinion of the uninformed public. Here, we can see a very well done attack piece by comedian John Oliver- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA0wKeokWUU
Oliver is right to lambast Oz for the language he uses, but unfortunately he goes on to attack the very idea of supplements altogether. Using garbage studies that used garbage products, he makes the claim that people died from using Tryptophan. But how many people die every year from properly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs? Funny how Oliver and Senator McCaskill forget to mention this fact. Pharmaceutical drugs are incredibly dangerous. More people die every year from properly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs than people die of illegal drugs. For a detailed review of FDA corruption, please read the book Pharmocracy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbcZsMcs1MQ
Also, just as a side note, if you are unfamiliar with the history of groups like the American Medical Association, I would recommend the book When Healing Becomes a Crime: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTh4NjL40vo
The goal of all this propaganda is to overhaul DSHEA and create a regulatory nightmare for smaller companies who will be unable to compete with large companies. At the same time, we have companies like P&G and Pfizer gobbling up some of the most successful supplement companies, New Chapter and Alacer respectively. Why would these companies be purchasing supplement companies if the products do not work and are possibly dangerous? The answer is because the real medicine is natural medicine and the people are waking up to the fact that they have been swindled for over a century now. We cannot allow the mainstream media to trick the public into supporting more money and support for the FDA. The only proper solution is to completely abolish the FDA and allow the free market to do what is does best.
Recently, Ginkgo biloba, one of the most commonly used herbs and dietary supplements in the world, came under fire from the CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) has asked the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to give the supplement industry 30 days to remove all Ginkgo products from their shelves.
Why, after so many years of safe and effective use, would a group demand that this herb be banned from public access? Well, according tot he CSPI, Ginkgo may be causing cancer in laboratory animals, and therefore could pose a danger to human beings also. This could not be a more obvious hit piece against Ginkgo biloba.
First of all, for those that don’t know, Ginkgo is used commonly throughout the world, but you probably have heard of it as being used to improve memory and fight against Alzheimer’s and similar cognitive diseases. The reasoning behind this is that Ginkgo thins the blood and improves circulation, thus allowing more blood to flow to the brain and extremities. For this reason, Ginkgo should not be combined with blood-thinning pharmaceutical drugs, but can be safely consumed by most other individuals.
“Actions: Circulatory system tonic (especially extremities, head and brain); optimizes brain cell metabolism; increases memory and learning capacity. PAF antagonist. Antioxidant. Valuable tonic for the aged.
Uses: Poor circulation in head and brain; memory loss, poor concentration and poor mental performance; Alzheimer’s disease; dizziness and vertigo; degenerative eye disease; chronic inflammation in ears, and tinnitus (“ringing in ears”). Cold hands and feet; intermittent claudication and Raynaud’s disease; varicose veins, leg ulcers and hemorrhoids. Male erectile dysfunction due to poor circulation. Asthma.
Dose: Take 30 to 40 drops, 3 to 5 times per day.
Cautions: Discontinue or lower dosage if headache occurs.”
Anyway, all you need to know is that this study is tremendously misleading, biased, and manipulated. First of all, the Shanghai Ginkgo extract which is used in this study, is not even the same kind of Ginkgo biloba that is used in the supplement industry (this point is highlighted by Mark Blumenthal of the American Botanical Council). The second problem with this study is that the animals are also being fed “solutions containing Ginkgo biloba extract in corn oil through a tube directly into the stomach of male and female rats and mice five times a week for two years”. I have added emphasis due to the fact that we have strong evidence that genetically modified corn causes cancer. See the most recent study below, but this has been going on for roughly twenty years. More and more research is coming out all the time about the connection between GMO crops and increases in diseases. Bottom line, this study was designed to fail in order to demonize Ginkgo biloba and attack the dietary supplement industry.
We can no longer allow the FDA to collude with industries like Big Pharma/Biotech/Chemical. We have for too long allowed a monopoly of health care in this country, it is time to fight back. I will continue to take Ginkgo biloba and products which contain Ginkgo biloba. Better yet, I will just order some bulk organic Ginkgo herb and make my own products!
The purpose of this article is to introduce the reader to the concept of animal parts having medicinal properties and the global demand for these substances. Rhino horn trade is forbidden by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), despite the fact that it has been used as a Traditional Medicine for millennia. It should be understood that these animal substances DO have therapeutic effects. The West is currently on a mission to convince people that traditional animal medicines have no value whatsoever and that a military intervention in Africa on behalf of wildlife is justifiable. Neither of these things is true and in the next few pages I am going to attempt to prove that point.
On December 10, 2012 a top Globalist was interviewed on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show regarding the role of the U.S. in the Crackdown on Wildlife Trafficking, particularly throughout African nations. Robert D. Hormats, who is currently the Under Secretary Of State, is the epitome of a globalist shill. Hormats was the vice chairman of Goldman Sachs (International). He joined Goldman Sachs in 1982. He served as a senior staff member for International Economic Affairs on the National Security Council from 1969 to 1977, where he was senior economic advisor to Dr. Henry Kissinger, General Brent Scowcroft and Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. These days he spends his time justifying military intervention in Africa based on the illegal trade of animal parts.
The “Terrorist” Connection
For those that study the sphere of global geopolitics, it comes as no great surprise that the United States military continues to expand operations into Africa in the name of fighting terrorism. These days it seems that any military action can be labeled as a “humanitarian intervention” and the powers at be can get away with any act of aggression. One of the primary ways the US Federal Government is justifying intervention and invasion of these various African countries is in the effort to stem the trade of endangered species.
Of course the ban on Rhino horn has created factions of organized crime, this cannot be argued. But that is only because of the artificially high prices that provide incentive for poachers to hunt and kill Rhinoceros for their horn. This build-up of organized crime is exactly what the Globalist agenda wants. It is the standard Problem, Reaction, Solution that we have become all too familiar with in the past decades. Not only does the prohibition of Rhino horn create a black market for the substance, fueling violent conflict in the region over natural resources, but it also provides those with a Globalist agenda the perfect justification to get involved in the affairs of the African nations. The real purpose behind government intervention throughout the Middle East and now Africa is to preserve the power wielded by the U.S. Federal Government. There is a continuing battle over who will have access to the remaining resources of the African continent. Knowing that the majority of wildlife products end up being sold on the black market in Asia and the South Pacific provides the U.S. with the perfect justification for meddling in the economic affairs of these regions. Under the banner of “conserving wildlife” the Globalists can carry out their agenda of continued dominance through resource monopolization.
One of the more frightening aspects of this continued military expansion in Africa is the implementation of drones. According to GlobalPost.com “the South African government is trying new, increasingly militaristic tactics, including the use of surveillance drones and army-style command of anti-poaching efforts”. This approach is sure to fail the same way that every other prohibition has failed.
Legitimate Medicinal Use
It is important that we point out that the people seeking the Rhino horn are not “savages” or backward in any way. In fact, there is a substantial amount of evidence that demonstrates the medicinal value of rhino horn and many other animal parts used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Unfortunately, many individuals in the West might consider the medicinal use of animal parts “barbaric” or “primitive”. However, they are quite wrong to ignore that this practice has in fact been going on for thousands of years. TCM incorporates a wide variety of animal parts into their Materia Medica, including Rhino Horn. The world renowned Herbalist, Michael Tierra explains in his book The Way of Chinese Herbs: “Several patents contain animal products because of their potent effects. This is because their constituents contain substances quite similar to those found in our own bodies. Some examples are rhinoceros or antelope horn, gecko lizard, deer antler, human placenta, tiger bone, and oyster shell”. Indeed, science verifies that many of these substances do contain an array of medicinal compounds. It has been discovered that one of the primary constituents of rhino horn is keratin, a structural protein that is used in the nutritional supplement industry in a variety of formulas for skin, hair, nails, teeth, bones. Surely this alone would encourage medical science to study the Rhino horn for its nutritional and therapeutic effects. Based on the vested interests of those in power, I would also argue that keeping Rhino horn (and other herbal medicines) out of the hands of the masses is going to generate more business in the pharmaceutical industry.
Recently, the use of Deer Antler Velvet extract has gained interest in the West, as many professional athletes have begun using this product as a performance enhancing nutraceutical. We can look to Deer farming in the United States as a model for the future of successful Rhino farming. Many farms in New England raise Elk and Red Deer specifically for their antler and meats. The animals are allowed to roam free and are fed on a regular basis, ensuring that their numbers stay plentiful. When it is time to harvest the deer antler, the animal is sedated and the antlers are removed in a clean, safe environment. There is no reason that the same cannot be done with other exotic species around the world.
Prohibiton is the source of the problem
Of course killing these animals for their parts is unethical. However, it must be said that banning the trade of these animals does more harm than good. Prohibition of any substance creates a black market and artificially drives the price of these goods sky-high. In fact, according to the International Business Times, the growing demand for these illegal products “has driven up prices to anywhere from $65,000 to $90,000 per kilogram, making it more valuable by weight than gold, diamonds or cocaine”. This high price is the result of the ban on production and trade. In a truly free market environment, the price of Rhino horn would naturally be determined by supply and demand. Individuals would no longer have to hunt and kill these animals, but businesses could operate farms that both protect and preserve these valuable animal species while delivering a highly desired product to the market.
While the general public spews vitriol at Rhino poachers, they fail to recognize that it is the prohibitive policies that have created the excess of poachers which are now a threat to the survival of the Rhino. The reason that there are so many poachers hunting Rhino is because they have a very high incentive to bring Rhino horn to the market. The artificially high prices provide an easy return to poachers, who can then reinvest in their hunting operations by purchasing helicopters, weapons, and other tools they will use to hunt Rhino. The fact that the practice is illegal only encourages poachers to do their job as quickly as possible. When they spot a Rhino, there is no incentive to anesthetize the animal and harvest the horn in a safe and sterile manner. Because this activity is illegal, they are encouraged to kill the animal, remove its horn, and be gone as quickly as possible so as to avoid being arrested.
Since the law has decreed that it is unlawful to trade Rhino horn, the poachers will resort to violence in order to prevent going to jail. Substantiating this point, Eric Conway-Smith writes: “Less than a week into 2013, field rangers stationed…near South Africa’s border with Mozambique found themselves in a gunfight with three suspected poachers. The men escaped, leaving behind a high-caliber hunting rifle and a bag full of rhino horns”. This escalating violence that surrounds rhino horn trade should be an indicator to all that it is time to legalize the ethical trade of animal parts for medicinal substances.
Recently, Lion bones have been replacing Tiger bones on the market. Speaking to the point of prohibition causing more of a problem, Peter Warren, a South African Wildlife Breeder states: “If you were to put a ban on lion bones, all that’s gonna happen, the price is gonna three, five double, like it did with the Rhinos, and the people will go into the wild and will start smuggling the bones”. Indeed, this is precisely what economics tells us will happen when the availability of a highly sought after good is suddenly greatly diminished.
Legalize Rhino Farming and Respect African Sovereignty
The solution to these issues is for the international community to respect the independent sovereignty of the African nations and allow them to farm Rhino as well as any other animals they see fit. This is not a difficult proposition, as it has already been stated, there are a number of successful Deer Antler farms in the U.S. that protects deer populations and simultaneously brings a valuable product to market. Some might say that Rhino farming is not the same as Deer farming, and it would be much more difficult to farm these animals. This is untrue, as we have seen with a South African businessman turned Rhino farmer, John Hume.
According to The Daily Mail, John Hume: “has nearly 600 rhinos, around 80 in each 400 hectare ”field”, with separate breeding males and nurseries where young are kept with their mothers”. Like the intelligent investor that he is, Hume has been harvesting and stockpiling the rhino horn for years, telling the Daily Mail: “I’m wealthy enough to go on farming rhinos for the rest of my life without legalization, but if you talk to an investment guru he would tell you the last thing you sell is your rhino horn. My rhino horn stocks are my fastest growing asset”. The simple fact that Rhino horn remains an illegal substance should alert many as to the real motives behind its prohibition. We need only examine the stated goals of Under Secretary Robert Hormats and Secretary Hillary Clinton to see that the real goal is a justification for further control of global resources.
To: House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs
I am writing this letter in hopes that you will support the Medical Cannabis Bill – H.B. 573. Recently I attended the Legalize Cannabis bills HB-492 and HB-337 where I testified before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. During my testimony I explained to them why I am in favor of legalization and why everyone should be in favor of this plant.
I am academically trained as a philosopher and my professional career is in the Natural Products Industry. I am quite familiar with several hundred medicinal herb species. In the past I have managed two separate herb shops in St. Augustine, FL. Today, I work for one of the largest supplement and natural product companies in the U.S. and I continue to study herbs for a living. I am constantly reading the most cutting-edge science that pertains to health, herbs, vitamins, minerals, etc. I am here to tell you that Cannabis is the most useful, important plant in the entire world.
Obviously this bill is focused on the question of Medical Marijuana. No one should still be questioning the fact that marijuana is incredibly useful as a medicine. This is mainline science, from all around the world, proving to us that Marijuana is medicine. Not only is marijuana an excellent nervine (beneficial for the nervous system), it is a powerful antioxidant that we are just beginning to learn about. According to the PDR for Herbal Medicines, Cannabis possesses the following medicinal actions: Anticonvulsive action, Analgesic characteristics, Respiratory (bronchial dilation), Reduces intra-occular pressure (why it is useful for Glaucoma), Antimicrobial action, and Tumor inhibiting effect among others. It is indeed powerful medicine.
From the entirety of human history we have found evidence of people using Cannabis as medicine in multiple forms. Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches us that the resin of the flowers as well as the seeds have been used for thousands of years, some sources say up to 7,000 years and possibly older. Indian Sadhus smoke Cannabis as part of their meditation and spiritual practices. The recreational use of Cannabis became popular after its initial discovery and application as a medicine. Today Cannabis is happily grown and consumed around the world, despite the horrible failure that is the American War on Drugs.
The plant itself is incredibly useful to humanity, providing an abundant source of fibers and polymers that enables us to build anything from shoes and pants to cars and houses. It also provides us with the nutritionally dense, complete protein hemp seed that is currently used in numerous protein powder supplements in the Natural Products Industry. Hempseed oil can be taken as a nutritional supplement internally, but also externally where it is not only an excellent moisturizer, but it can be used to soften skin, heal wounds, delivering antioxidants through the skin and hastening repair of tissues. It can also be used as healthy cooking oil or for machine oil.
Please do not take seriously the arguments that say Cannabis can cause mental illness. Millions and millions of people around the globe use Cannabis, often daily, and they get along just fine. The real threat to mental health in our society is the overprescribing of pharmaceutical psychiatric medications, especially to children or teenagers. This much is evident with nearly all of school shootings in recent history having featured a common SSRI or MAOI-style pharmaceutical prescription “medicine”. These drugs are notorious for inducing violent, bizarre behavior, as well as suicides (our soldiers are now more medicated than ever before and are killing themselves in greater number than ever before). Even worse, it is well known that many of these pharmaceutical drugs are rushed through the approval process and remain on the market for years until they have harmed enough people that they must be recalled. This happens all the time with these so-called medicines. I would encourage you to look at the listed side-effects of these psychiatric medicines and then compare them to the known effects of Cannabis. There has never been a recorded death from Cannabis use ever. Typically, the only problem you will have if you are taking an herbal medicine is if you are combining it with a pharmaceutical drug. Herbal medicines are so much safer than common allopathic medicines that it is no wonder that the Natural Products Industry continues to grow exponentially around the world.
Lastly, everyone has a right to use this plant. The issue fundamentally comes down to individual health freedom. This is as basic of a right as the right to free speech or the right to defend oneself. As independent human beings we have the right to pursue the health care of our choosing. No one can force you to take a medicine that you do not wish to take. We all have the right to use whatever form of medicine we see fit, whether it be pharmaceutical drugs or natural substances. Sometimes it is necessary to use emergency, technological medicines, but for the most part, the body responds best to natural therapies. Please understand that patients who use Cannabis as a medicine are simply doing so because they find that the natural approach is what works best for them. The Law is ideally supposed to protect people’s rights and for far too long the rights of patients have been trampled upon. Please do whatever is in your power to make Medical Marijuana a reality in New Hampshire.
In Good Health,
Charles Riffenburg III
P.S. I have enclosed a copy of Cannabis Distribution Operations, that was just released last month from the American Herbal Products Association, a highly respected organization in the field of medicinal plant research. This is the draft recommendations on the regulation of distribution (dispensing) of medical marijuana to regulators in three states that allow such practice. If you have not done so already, please examine this document closely and apply it to your understanding of Medical Cannabis.
Here is a large mushroom I found in the woods along the Suncook River, here in the Free State. I believe it to be an old “Chicken of the Woods” or Laetiporus sulphureus (click here for more-> http://www.first-nature.com/fungi/laetiporus-sulphureus.php ), but there are a number of varieties within this medicinal species (polypore). Look how it grows at the base of the oak tree, this is common with these mushrooms. I did not harvest this nice big specimen, instead I left it to spread throughout the forest.
I would like to get to the point where I am growing my own medicinal mushrooms and selling them for their culinary value and incorporating them into medicinal formulas, etc.
Mycelium, better known as fungi or mushrooms, are among the oldest living organisms on the planet. They play a critical role in the lifecycle, breaking down dead material and transforming it into useful substrates, such as soil. Many mushrooms provide human society with an array of medicinal compounds that are useful in treating various cancers and immuno-suppessive diseases.