Bastyr University Receives Funds From Vitamin Antitrust Settlement; Researchers To Examine If Supplement Ingredients Are True To The Manufacturers' Labels

KENMORE, Wash.-- June 11 --Faculty at Bastyr University received significant funding from the Vitamin Antitrust Settlement of October 2000.

The funds are part of the approximately $6.1 million awarded to the State of Washington as a portion of that multi-state settlement with six companies.

Sheryl Berman, PhD, faculty at Bastyr and Diane Spicer, MS, faculty and assistant chair of Basic Sciences, received approximately $91,000 for a year-long research project, "Examination of safety, viability, and speciation of Lactobacillus dietary supplements in the State of Washington."

The work will sample Lactobacillus supplements found on shelves throughout the state of Washington. This supplement is often purchased over the counter or prescribed by physicians to restore the normal flora in the body that is necessary to maintain good health. The scientists will examine not only whether the organisms listed on the label are actually present and viable in the supplement, but whether there are any harmful bacteria as well. Currently there is no regulation of the herbal and dietary supplement industry and as the use of supplements has increased dramatically, so has concern over their quality.

"This is an important area of public health," said Dr. Berman. "The public deserves to be educated. As part of the natural medicine community, we're very concerned about this issue and we believe we have the best resources to undertake a study of this kind."

Gowsala Sivam, PhD, a research investigator and faculty member at Bastyr, has also received an award from this settlement for approximately $128,000. That project is for the "Standardization of Nutritional/Herbal Supplements (Nutraceuticals) using HPLC."

The project will examine the supplements distributed by the Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University. Along with HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph), a popular analytical tool, the study will use a highly sophisticated detection system known as a coulometric array detector. This tool is fairly new to the research field, as of the mid-1990's, and detects electro chemicals.

"We're excited at the prospect of testing these products with this instrument," explained Dr. Sivam. "Right now we do as much research as possible before we offer a product, but to be able to conduct this sophisticated scientific evaluation is a major step forward in assuring the highest quality to the consumer." Dr. Sivam is an organic chemist with extensive experience in natural products, chemistry and cancer research. She has authored many publications and holds six patents in these fields.

In 1999 several manufacturers of vitamins and vitamin products were accused of price fixing, allocating markets and agreeing not to compete with each other. The companies agreed to settle the allegations with monetary payments to purchasers of affected products in each of the settling states. Because of the difficulty in determining what individuals should receive the damages, the settlement specified that the funds would be distributed to non profit organizations or political entities for the benefit of human health or nutrition, and/or nutritional or dietary agricultural science. Disbursal in Washington was handled through the Attorney General, who put out a request for applications on projects that fulfilled the requirements.

Bastyr University, in Kenmore, Washington, is an accredited institution, internationally recognized as a pioneer in the study of natural healing. It is the leading university for natural health sciences in the United States, encompassing a multidisciplinary curriculum and a world-renowned research institute. Founded in 1978 by practicing naturopathic physicians, Bastyr University integrates the pursuit of scientific knowledge with the wisdom of ancient healing methods and traditional cultures from around the world. Its mission is to educate future leaders in the natural health sciences that integrate mind, body, spirit, and nature. Through natural health education, research and clinical services, Bastyr University improves the health and well being of the human community.

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