Nature's Hottest Pan-Ethnic Cure-all
It was with amazement that I read "Cat Scratch Fever" by Elise Ackerman (November 9), in which she criticizes Hispanic reaction to an herbal supplement called Cat's Claw, or Una de Gato.

Ms. Ackerman depicts local Hispanics as being "delirious" about the drug. First of all, Cat's Claw is not a drug and does not have to be approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Cat's Claw is a dietary supplement made organically from a climbing vine that has been proven to contain several active principles and alkaloids that have a beneficial effect on those who take it.

Is Ms. Ackerman trying to ridicule Hispanics by focusing only on their reaction to this herbal supplement? Is she trying to discredit Pedro Sevcec's show on Telemundo or is she simply ignorant?

Forbes magazine, November 6, 1995: On the cover, one of the headlines is "The World's Best Small Companies." The article refers to Americans having a new love affair with herbal medicines. A company called Nature's Sunshine, with billings of $200 million this year, sells medicinal herbs and vitamins exclusively -- and not just to local Hispanics. Of more than 450 products they represent, their best seller is Cat's Claw.

Newsweek magazine, November 6, 1995: On the cover, "The Melatonin Craze." Obviously people other than local Hispanics are becoming delirious with another type of supplement. In the article, Cat's Claw figures as number two among "Nature's Biggest Sellers." This is among the Anglo market, in the entire United States. I doubt Newsweek based these figures on local Hispanics.

Let's Live magazine, October 1995 (America's foremost health and preventive medicine magazine since 1933): The article inside, "Herbs for Health," dedicated exclusively to Cat's Claw, cites incredible experiences and results by people other than Hispanics.

Health and Healing magazine, May 1995: Newsletter published monthly by Dr. Julian Whitaker, head of the Whitaker Wellness Institute in Newport Beach, California, reports, "Take Una de Gato for All-Around Immunity."

A very long list of American doctors and certified nutritionists are now strong advocates of a healthy, nontoxic approach to living a healthy life. They all endorse alternative forms of medicine. Herbal supplements are nature's way of taking care of her children without the chemicals in conventional medicine. Many hospitals around the country are making these supplements available to their patients, because obviously the demand is there.

This is not just a local Hispanic pharmacy aberration. If Ms. Ackerman does not believe in natural and organic forms of health care, she is entitled to her belief, but do not attack Hispanics for believing differently. Why doesn't she attack melatonin or shark cartilage or any of the other multiple forms of alternative health-care supplements that are available in all health food and nutrition stores around the country?

Cat's Claw is not just a Hispanic craze. The fact that people buy it and continue to buy it (and not only Hispanics) must prove that there is some value to it.

Zeida Cecilia-Mendez, president
Millenium Natural Products, Inc.

Austin's Stud-Puppy Prose
Tom Austin blows my mind. I secretly crave our weekly rendezvous. Almost every session of literary verbal abuse gets me right to the top before the first paragraph is finished.

As he mind-fucks my libido with innuendo, I reach a level of sensuality that only lovers share. His intertwining recitals of love and madness keep me at the edge. Allowed only to observe, I am teased with each next position he describes. The final lines leave me exhausted yet satisfied and yearning for more.

Keep that stud puppy on his leash and don't let go!
Jae Manzella
Miami Beach

Anthony's Weekly Venom
Todd Anthony is becoming the John Simon of South Florida movie critics. It's getting so one can hardly wait to see what venom unscrolls from his pen each week. He doesn't seem to like anything Hollywood puts out (granted, most of it is pretty bad), but goes gaga over amateur auteur flicks and pretentious foreign stuff.

I now have a routine: After Anthony I read Siskel and Ebert (who were likely reviewing films while Anthony and his goatee were still in diapers), then I see it myself and make up my own mind.

There was a play or film some years back about a nasty critic who was offed by a mysterious killer. Think there's a story there, Mr. Anthony? Guess it depends on the acting.

Veronica Armstrong
Miami Beach

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