Mike: I'm here with Gerald St. Clair, marketing director for Ridgecrest Herbals, which is based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and can be found online at ridgecrestherbals.com. Can you give us an overview of what kind of products you offer?
St. Clair: Primarily we do traditional Chinese medicine in capsules. Our best-selling formulas are now a combination of traditional Chinese herbs as well as homeopathy, which allows for faster- acting results for people. One of our best selling products is Clear Lungs, which is the number one selling lung congestion formula in the marketplace right now. We have several other formulas that do really well, like formulas for blood sugar balance, hypoglycemia, diabetes, blood pressure, Sinus Clear, Asthma Clear and so on.
Mike: You have a blood sugar balance formula, and the ingredients are three or four medicinal Chinese herbs, right?
St. Clair: Yes, this is actually probably the simplest formula in the entire line. Most of our formulas have anywhere from about 12 all the way up to about 40 different ingredients. Chinese herbal medicine, as you probably know, relies a lot on the synergy of herbs and different energies that the herbs produce. So the Blood Sugar Balance is unique in that it only has five ingredients. But what we've found is that those five ingredients in Chinese medicine work very, very well for balancing blood sugar. It's not a diabetic formula or a hypoglycemic formula; it's a blood sugar balancer, to bring either high blood sugar down or low blood sugar up.
Mike: That's actually quite typical of Chinese medicine. It's not an allopathic approach, but it's rather a toning or balancing approach. Here I see one ingredient is Chinese licorice root. It's funny, because I think we've done six or seven articles in the last year on licorice root, and new evidence, even in the Western world, shows that it's a blood sugar-stabilizing herb.
St. Clair: Yes, definitely.
Mike: I think cinnamon was in some of that research, as well.
St. Clair: Yes. We're actually researching cinnamon right now, because although the Blood Sugar Balance is a very effective formula as is, we're always looking at ways to improve our formulations, and we're in the process of possibly updating the Blood Sugar Balance at this time. So cinnamon's on our research list right now.
Mike: Wonderful. How can consumers buy this product?
St. Clair: Most retailers in the country now sell our No. 1-selling product, which is Clear Lungs. It's available in most independent health food stores, as well as most GNC stores. It's not found in the mass market, but it is found at GNC, Wild Oats, Whole Foods and places like that.
Mike: Can you order on your website?
St. Clair: You can order on the website, absolutely. Any consumer can order on the website, and, of course, retailers can access information about the products on the website. Retailers can also order direct from us, and we're in most distributors, as well.
Mike: What's your philosophy on formulations of the product? How do you go about formulating them?
St. Clair: Most of our formulas started with a traditional Chinese patent herbal medicine. In some cases, all we're using is the traditional Chinese medicine, unchanged. We don't really like to mess with 500 years of success or 1,000 years of success in the case of some of our formulas. So in many cases they are just that.
What we have done in some cases is try to improve upon the speed of the results of the formulas. If there is a negative to Chinese medicine, it is that some of the formulas take up to three, four or five weeks to start manifesting results for people. We found a homeopathic medicine generally works much quicker than that, so we've now started blending homeopathy with Chinese medicine, both of which work with the body's own energy. We find that it's a really happy marriage between those two, and so many of our formulas now take into account both of those types of formulations. We find that that's been a very effective approach for us to take.
Mike: That's a unique synergy. I don't think I've seen other companies use that combination.
St. Clair: A classical homeopathy doesn't generally lend itself to putting homeopathy with herbal medicine. On the other hand, some of the more contemporary homeopaths are now saying that they certainly can be blended and blended effectively. The beauty of homeopathy, of course, is that there are really no negatives to it as far as side effects. We've found that it has proven to be a positive and has made some of our formulas work much more quickly and more deeply than they normally would. So it is uncommon, but it does work really well for our products.
Mike: A lot of people are used to seeing Western herbs in this kind of packaging or going to a health food store and finding Western herbs, but even though traditional Chinese herbs are more common now, people still tend to associate them with Chinese herbal medicine shops. You are Westernizing the packaging and the naming of traditional Chinese medicine. I think that's innovative.
St. Clair: Well, we've actually been doing this now for about 12 years, and, initially, some of our formulas were used just in practitioners' offices and not in health food stores. The founder of the company, Clyde St. Clair, who is actually my father, determined that this was something that should be, and certainly could be, in health food stores. Being a health food store owner as well, he decided to test market it in his store, and it's still carried there. Since then, it has really sprouted and taken off across the country as far as being in most independent shops.
What we're trying to do is make Chinese herbal medication easier to understand. The Western herbs are much more written about. Chinese herbs sometimes can't even be pronounced, let alone understood. So we've tried to take the mystery out of it by using names like Blood Sugar Balance, Clear Lungs, Sinus Clear -- things that people can understand. By doing that, we've had a lot of success because one thing I think people do understand is that the Chinese knew what they were doing and still know what they're doing when it comes to herbal medicine. The question is: How do you understand it yourself and use it to your benefit?
Mike: Good point. One criticism from practitioners of traditional and Chinese medicine might be that every person is different and that you can't have "one size fits all." What's your response to that?
St. Clair: Well, you can't have "one size fits all," and we're not ever going to claim that our products are 100 percent effective for 100 percent of people. What we do find is that the formulas we've put together do work for the majority of the people who use them. The real question is: How many capsules a day work for a certain condition on a certain person? There is a variety of answers. Actually, with our new packaging that we're in the process of producing right now, we will be offering a lot more detailed dosage information to try to address that. Certainly some people can get very good results with just one or two capsules, whereas other people will need as many as six or eight. We want to make sure people understand that they need to do some experimentation on themselves to figure out exactly what potency is going to work for them, as opposed to what might work for their neighbors.
Mike: That requires body awareness. That's asking a lot from some of them.
St. Clair: Well, we don't think the consumer's completely incompetent. We think the consumer can figure out what's working for them for the most part.
St. Clair: Certainly, some people are going to want to stick with more traditional routes, at least traditional for the Western world. But traditional Chinese medicine, we believe, has a place here in the mainstream of America. What we're trying to do is kind of bridge that gap.
Mike: Wonderful. So again, the website is RidgecrestHerbals.com. Gerald St. Clair, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
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