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Microsoft word - spring 2010 newsletter.doc
Spring 2010 Newsletter Charitable Trust Reg No. CC44640
Hastily harvested or carefully cultivated?
is a slow growing leafless succulent found in parts of Southern Africa. It
grows sparsely and takes between 3-6 years to both flower and produce the desirable
levels of phytochemicals. It is currently marketed as a weight loss herb.
A similar pattern emerges when reading the
literature and advertising about many medicinal plants that are potential y endangered.
Firstly, finding an unbiased report is important, usually a Plant Profile written by a researcher not in
any way aligned with a commercial manufacturer
or marketing Company . An example for Hoodia is Hoodia Gordonii In Southern Africa written by
Elsabe Swart from the Department of Tourism,
Environment and Conservation, South Africa and Northern Cape Province in 2008. Secondly, the
product information put out by the various companies marketing a product can then viewed
alongside that. I have done this with Hoodia gordonii
The following chart summarizes some key points gleaned from the search.
There would currently be little cultivated on
Illegal harvesting and habitat destruction
“Having researched the market and found
that more than 75% of all Hoodia gordonii
products are fake we have taken it upon our self as a South African based company
to inform consumers on which Hoodia
brands they can trust.”3
There is currently no IUCN Red list listing
Protected in 5 of 9 provinces in South Africa “Kalahari Hoodia gordonii
doesn't exist on
Protected areas need further research as
which the Kalahari is (Northern Cape) does
not allow for the collection or wild crafting
of Hoodia gordonii
. Nor does it allow the export of Hoodia gordonii
The main threat is considered to be illegal
‘Rebirth Africa’4 advertises pure Kalahari
supply “Pure South African Hoodia Gordonii
from the Kalahari desert. This is
genuine Hoodia made by mother nature, discovered and eaten by the San Tribe of
South Africa” Others supply cheap extracts
from China, cultivated (too moist) or additives.4
Illegal material has been ‘legalised’ due to unsychronised management Permit monitoring is difficult due to lack of
monitoring of ‘wild harvest’ sites is not done
due to lack of personal, monitoring largely owner responsibility The CSIR held a patent ( P57),
The benefit sharing to the CSIR and the San
people is only generated by Phytopharm’s
Unilever to commercialise it as a food product/supplement. Benefit
sharing agreements are in place with the
San people(6%). 50% of harvest is from dead material
Analysis of the majority of products contain
2005 to 2008 = 15.7 tonnes of dry illegal
material (confiscated) (Anecdotally 41 tonnes dry weight)
10-15% of il egal trade is reported and/or
caught. Importing countries should monitor Hoodia
that is being imported, which should then
be cross referenced with the countries of export. There are issues of quality control and
unregulated trade in products claiming to
'.2 Authors comment
Generally more information as to regeneration, seed longevity, seedling survival needs to
be researched. An increase in co-operation between provinces would enable better management and
monitoring of permits and plants to reduce illegal trade in less strict province.
An increase in Staff would assist in monitoring although that is seen to be difficult. The so-cal ed unbiased Hoodia gordonii
reporting website3 is actually a front for a
Company selling a range of Hoodia products. They also invite the reader to check the Certification but the link is not active.
Most websites selling Hoodia gordonii do not have Certification papers for view and
those that I was able to find both the South African permits and the CITES were out of date by at least 4 years.
It would be difficult to believe anything written in Product Literature as to the current situation regarding the Conservation Status of Hoodia gordonii
. It appears that
populations can die out quickly and that they are susceptible to attack. This and other factors such as the lack of knowledge about population density and lack of personal for
monitoring ‘wild harvest’ sites would make the Criteria for IUCN Red Listing difficult. Little
is known about the amount of cultivated product on the market. International Research group for the Conservation of Medicinal Plants’ Medicinal Plant
Rapid Assessment Tool allocates a numerical value of 61
Plants for which there should be urgent further
consideration as to their conservation status
would be in the range of 61-79 so it is at the bottom of the range for which there is
At best: 1. Don’t use unless from a certified cultivated
source from Southern Africa and Botswana.
2. Check that the product supplier has current
Certification from both inside South Africa (Permit contacts can be accessed through the
South Afrian Biodiversity Institute) and CITES.
3. Check the level of Hoodia gordonii
in the product on the label. 4. Check the original supplier of the plant material.
5. Keep a watch on IRGCMP website for updates.
1. If ‘Wild Harvested’ check all of 1-5 above. References
1. Swart Elsabe (2008) Hoodia Gordonii In Southern Africa
Department of Tourism,
Conservation, South Africa, Northern Cape Province 2. Kew Gardens Data Base (Accessed 04/11/10)
3 Hoodia Website claiming unbiased Hoodia Gordonii reporting (Accessed 04.11.10) 2008
Hoodia1.net 4.Rebirth Africa www.rebirth.co.za/rebirth (Accessed 04/11/10)
With thanks to Roy Upton of the American Herbal pharmacopoeia (AHP) for
this excerpt from an upcoming monograph on Slippery elm (still in its
unedited and unfinished format).
Slippery Elm Ulmus rubra
Slippery elm is not classified as an endangered or threatened plant in North America by either the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) or the United States Fish & Wildlife Service
(USFWS), nor is it listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(CITES). However, according to the United Plant Savers (UPS), a non-profit corporation dedicated to preserving native medicinal plants, there has been over 50% decline of
slippery elm in southeastern Ohio due to Dutch elm disease in the last 10 years only (UpS
2010, personal communication to AHP, unreferenced). The organization includes slippery elm in its “At-Risk” list (UPS 2010).
Comment If you are purchasing Slippery elm then request
'Certified Organic' as these "producers have to
promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity… Wild collected tree barks that are
to be certified organic must be harvested from
a designated area that has had no prohibited substance applied to it for a period of 3 years
immediately preceding the harvest, and must
be harvested in a manner that ensures that such harvesting or gathering will not be
destructive to the environment and will sustain the growth and production of the wild crop."
We hope to bring you an update on Prunus Africanus and something on
the endangered orchids of Myanmar.
If you have a plant you would like us to research, please let us know.
Any contributions or readers comments are also welcome. An ‘Information
Sheet’ is available for distribution, please use the ‘Expression of Interest
Form’ on www.irgcmp.org and we will email you a copy.
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