New Straits Times
December 27, 2005

Malaysia

Sounds un-natural

How natural are herbal products? SHAMINI DARSHNI has some shocking revelations.

IF you are one of those people who thought herbal products are completely natural, think again. An Indian pharmacist says many products that claim to be herbal comprise 99.99 per cent petrol-derived ingredients.

“These include herbal shampoos and soaps,” said Dr Muhammad Majeed, the man behind the hugely successful Sami Labs Limited and Sabinsa Corporation that’s based in India.

“The actual herbal ingredients could only be 0.01 per cent,” he said in a recent interview.

A pharmacist by training, Dr Majeed is the founder and chairman of Sabinsa, which has branches in Japan, the United States, Dubai and South Africa.

He is also the managing director of Sami Labs and is credited for introducing Americans to Ayurveda and Ayurvedic medicine.

Having been in the industry for almost 20 years, he said the herbal medicine market has grown.

First, people thought it was bogus and then it became known as alternative medicine. These days, it has become more accepted and is seen as complementary medicine.

Dr Majeed was in Malaysia to look at medicinally useful plants for herbal products.

“Malaysia will be the first country in the region we want to expand into,” he said.

The much-talked-about tongkat ali and kacip fatimah, along with pegaga, misai kucing and manjakini are of such interest that he is in talks with a local counterpart to set up a RM6 million processing plant near Tanjung Malim.

However, he stresses pre-clinical research and clinical documents as an import part of the processing of herbal product.