Pulse of Oriental Medicine: Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks


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Ephedra: Victory for Acupuncturists
in New York

by Brian Benjamin Carter

On this page (most recent info first):

Ephedra Not For Minors

A three month long legislative battle in Suffolk County, New York ended December 18th. The legislature had been considering banning all ephedra sales. Ephedra is an important natural remedy for coughing and wheezing. It is best used as part of herbal formulas prescribed by licensed trained acupuncturists (who are also herbalists). Ephedra has gotten quite a bit of negative press because it is often misused as a stimulant.

California has set a great precedent that allows Ephedra only to be prescribed by acupuncturists. Suffolk County didn't follow that precedent. However, they did ban the sales of Ephedra to minors.

This ban should decrease the incidence of negative health effects from ephedra. However, there are plenty of adults who will consciously misuse Ephedra. This fact has not been addressed by the legislature. For the time being, Ephedra's proper usage by acupuncturists has been safe-guarded. Still, the public's safety has not been adequately addressed.

Nov 14, 2002:

The MA HUANG issue in Suffolk County is NOT over. PLEASE ACT NOW!!! and urge others to act as well.

Legislator Jon Cooper (18th District) has not been responsive to our attempts to help him to adapt his bill. WE HAT TO STOP JON COOPER'S MISGUIDED ATTEMPT TO BAN MA HUANG (RE 1954).

Alternative Bipartisan legislation is going to be introduced by Legislators Cameron Alden (10th District) and Martin W. Haley (6th District). Their Resolution (RE 2153) will ban sales of ephedrine products to minors (under age 18). This bill preserves our freedom and protects minors from the inappropriate use of Ma Huang as a street drug. It represents a good compromise.

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What Can You Do?
1. Please come to the Suffolk County Legislative session on Tuesday November 19 and speak against Jon Cooper's Bill (RE 1954) and in favor of Cameron Alden's Bill (RE 2153). THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. The more people we have at the session, the better our chances are. Bring a friend/family member. Arrive by 8:30 am, sign in (you will be asked to fill out a yellow card) and speak up for your profession. You will have a maximum of 3 minutes to speak. If you have questions about what to say, please feel free to contact us.

2. Please write, fax or e-mail all Suffolk County legislators in support of RE 2153. ONLY DO THIS ONCE AND ONLY IF YOU LIVE IN SUFFOLK COUNTY. Spamming or high volume faxing hurts our cause. Please also contact your own legislator and speak against Jon Cooper's Bill (RE 1954).

We do not have much time. Please act now!!! Letters/e-mails/calls must be received by Monday, November 18th. We would also appreciate it if when you fax/e-mail/call, send a copy of your letter or an e-mail to us to let us know that you did this. Also, if you plan to attend Tuesday's meeting, please let us know.

Directions to the Suffolk County meetings can be found below.
A list of legislators with contact information can be found below.

Thank you for your help. Please act quickly and support your freedom to use Ma Huang. Please forward this e-mail to anyone you can.


Safe & Responsible Health Care for Suffolk County
Kevin V. Ergil
Marnae C. Ergil
Rory Kerr

To contact us:
Marnae Ergil
e-mail: marnae@pobox.com
phone: (631) 549-6755 (leave message)
Address: 168 Main St. Huntington, NY 11743

Points to Stress:

Please address the legislator as Honorable as in The Honorable Fred Smith. Remember that many of these people already support our position and those that do not will respond better to courtesy.

RE 2153:

1. RE 2153 is a good compromise that is well thought out and addresses the major concerns: the use of ephedra as a street drug by minors.
2. RE 2153 is supported by the Suffolk County PTA
3. RE 2153 is a bipartisan bill that preserves the freedom of adults to make informed decisions.

RE 1954:
1. RE 1954 will deprive residents of Suffolk county of a resource that is enjoyed by most other Americans and New Yorkers.
2. The patients of herbalists and other individuals will suffer from lack of access to this herb.
3. The FDA regulates all ephedra products now and has always acted against this type of product when the public was at risk.
4. The Dietary Supplements Health And Education Act (DSHEA) provides suitable protection for the public while providing access to useful supplements.
5. Adverse Event Reporting has no particular scientific value and oversight agencies such as the Government Accounting Office (GAO) have criticized the FDA for the poor quality of its data. The data includes reports of deaths that have been shown not to have been caused by Ephedra sinica, and are still reported as associated deaths. It is not appropriate to reduce people’s freedoms based on poor and misleading information.
6. Regardless of the quality of the data, the adverse events reported are far fewer than those reported for over-the counter preparations such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which kills 100 people each year and causes 2000 more to be hospitalized (New York Times 9/20/02 pp A 25.


(631) 853-4070

List of legislators

1st District
Hon. Michael J. Caracciolo
633 East Main Street
Riverhead, NY 11901

Phone: 852·3200 Fax: 852·3203 email: Michael.Caracciolo@co.suffolk.ny.us

The First Legislative District stretches from Middle Island in Brookhaven Town to the eastern most corner of New York State, Fishers Island.

2nd District
Hon. George Guldi
140 W. Montauk Highway
Hampton Bays, NY 11946

Phone: 852-8200 Fax: 852-8203 email: George.Guldi@co.suffolk.ny.us

The 2nd Legislative includes the residents of the Towns of East Hampton, South Hampton, Southeastern part of Brookhaven.

3rd District
Hon. Fred W. Towle, Jr.
640 Montauk Highway
Shirley, NY 11967

Phone: 852-1300 Fax: 852-1303 email: Fred.Towle@co.suffolk.ny.us

No description available

4th District
Hon. Joseph T. Caracappa
248 Middle Country Road
Bldg 1/Suite 3
Selden, NY 11784

Phone: 854-2700 Fax: 854-2703 e-mail:Joseph.Caracappa@co.suffolk.ny.us

The 4th Legislative District is located in the central- eastern portion of Suffolk County encompassing the central section of Brookhaven Town. The district includes Selden, Centereach, Farmingville, and parts of Coram, Lake Ronkonkoma, Ronkonkoma, Medford and Port Jefferson Station. The district is bounded roughly by Old Town Road to the North, Hawkins Avenue and Pond Path to the West, Route 112 to the East, and Portion Road to the South.

5th District
Hon. Vivian Fisher
46 Route 25A - Suite 5
East Setauket, NY 11733

Phone: 854-1500 Fax: 854-1503 e-mail: Vivian. Fisher@co.suffolk.ny.us

The 5th Suffolk County Legislative District (L.D.) is located in the north central section of Suffolk County encompassing the north west section of the Town of Brookhaven. The district includes Setauket, East Setauket, South Setauket, Stony Brook and parts of Port Jefferson Station, Terryville, Selden and Centereach. The district also includes the following villages: Belle Terre, Lake Grove, Old Field, Port Jefferson and Poquott. The district is bounded roughly by the Long Island Sound to the north, Bicycle Path to the east, Middle Country Road to the south and the Town of Smithtown to the west.

6th District
Hon. Martin W. Haley
725 Route 25A
Miller Place, NY 11764

Phone: 854-1600 Fax: 854-1603 e-mail: Martin.Haley@co.suffolk.ny.us

The 6th Legislative District is located in the northeast portion of the Town of Brookhaven. This District serves the Hamlets of Mount Sinai, Miller Place, Sound Beach, Rocky Point, and parts of Shoreham, Ridge, Middle Island, Coram, and Port Jefferson Station.

7th District
Hon. Brian X. Foley
90 W. Main St - Suite 2N
Patchogue, NY 11772

Phone: 854-1400 Fax: 854-1403 e-mail: Brian.Foley@co.suffolk.ny.us

No description available

8th District
Hon. William J. Lindsay
991 Main Street
Suite 103
Holbrook, NY 11741

Phone: 854-9611 Fax: 854-9687 e-mail: William.Lindsay@co.suffolk.ny.us

The 8th Suffolk County Legislative District is located in the south central part of Suffolk County. The entire district is within the Town of Islip. It includes all of Bayport and parts of Sayville, Bohemia, Holbrook, Holtsville, and Ronkonkoma. The district boundaries are at the Islip-Brookhaven line on the east and the Great South Bay on the south. The western boundary is a jagged line that separates Sayville and West Sayville and runs north through the communities of Bohemia into Ronkonkoma. The northern boundary is the Islip-Smithtown border in Lake Ronkonkoma and the Islip-Brookhaven border in Holbrook.

9th District
Hon. Ginny Fields
1227 B Montauk Highway Oakdale, NY 11769

Phone: 854-4909 Fax: 854-4928 e-mail: Ginny.Fields@co.suffolk.ny.us

The 9th legislative District is located in the western section of the Town of Islip. The district includes Central Islip, Great River, East Islip, Islip Terrace, Oakdale, and small sections of Hauppauge, Bohemia, and West Sayville. The district is bounded roughly by Veterans Highway to the North, Route 111 the west, the Great South Bay to the south, and Cherry Avenue to the east with Montauk Highway and Sunrise Highway running through the heart of the district west to east.

10th District
Hon. Cameron Alden
577 Main Street
Islip, NY 1175

Phone: 854-0940 Fax: 854-0943 e-mail: Cameron. Alden@co.suffolk.ny.us

No description available

11th District
Hon. Angie Carpenter
4 Udall Road
West Islip, NY 11795

Phone: 854-4100 Fax: 854-4103 e-mail: Angie.Carpenter@co.suffolk.ny.us

The 11th District is located on the western south shore of Suffolk County encompassing the south shores communities of the Town of Islip, including Fire Island. The district includes portions of Bay Shore, Brentwood, and Fire Island, and all of Brightwaters and West Islip. The district is bound roughly by the Great South Bay to our south, Route 231 to our west, and the Long Island Expressway to our north.

12th District
Hon. Andrew Crecca
111 Smithtown Bypass Suite 120
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Phone: 854-3735 Fax: 854-3744 e-mail:Andrew.Crecca@co.suffolk.ny.us

The 12th Suffolk County Legislative District is located in the western-central portion of Suffolk County encompassing the southern section of the Town of Smithtown, the northeastern section of Islip, southeast Huntington and western Brookhaven. The district includes Smithtown, Nesconset, Hauppauge, the Village of the Branch and parts of Commack, Islandia, Ronkonkoma and Lake Grove. The district is bounded roughly by Route 25 to the North, Larkfield Road to the west, the Long Island Expressway to the south, and Hawkins Avenue to the east with Veteran's Memorial Highway running through the heart of the district northwest to southeast.

13th District
Lynne C. Nowick
59 Landing Avenue
Smithtown, NY 11787

Phone: 854-3900 Fax: 854-3903 e-mail: Lynne.Nowick@co.suffolk.ny.us

The 13th Legislative District is located in the northern portion of Long Island, New York. It encompasses the Town of Smithtown and a small portion of the Town of Huntington. The district includes Smithtown, Fort Salonga, Kings Park, San Remo, Nissequogue, Head of the Harbor, and St. James, as well as portions of Commack and East Northport. The district is bounded by Route 25 to the south, Larkfield Road to the west, the Long Island Sound to the north, and the Brookhaven Town line to the east.

14th District
Hon. David Bishop
277 S. Wellwood Avenue
Lindehurst, NY 11757

Phone: 854-1100 Fax: 854-1103 e-mail:David.Bishop@co.suffolk.ny.us

The 14th Legislative District is located along the South Shore portion of Suffolk County encompassing the southern section of the Town of Babylon. The district includes Amityville Village, Babylon Village, Lindenhusrt Village, and Copiague south of Montauk Highway and parts of West Babylon. The district is bounded roughly by the Southern State Parkway to the north, the great South Bay to the south, County Line Road in Amityville to the west and Route 231 to the east.

15th District
Hon. Maxine Postal
Deputy Presiding Officer
15 Albany Ave.
Amityville, NY 11701

Phone: 854-1111 Fax: 854-1114 e-mail: Maxine.Postal@co.suffolk.ny.us

The 15th Legislative District is located in the southwesternmost portion of Suffolk County. It is bounded on the west by the Nassau/Suffolk County line and on the north by the Babylon/Huntington Town line. It includes Wheatley Heights, Wyandanch, North Amityville, parts of Amityville Village, Copiague, North Lindenhurst, West Babylon, North Babylon, and the portion of Farmingdale which lies in Suffolk County.

16th District
Hon. Allan Binder
1789 East Jericho Turnpike
Huntington, NY 11743

Phone: 854-5100 Fax: 854-5103 e-mail: Allan.Binder@co.suffolk.ny.us

No description available

17th District
Hon. Paul J. Tonna
Presiding Officer
1996 Deer Park Avenue
Deer Park, NY 11729

Phone: 854-1900 Fax: 854-1903 e-mail: Paul.Tonna@co.suffolk.ny.us

17th Legislative District is located in Huntington, Huntington Station, Melville and West Hills in the Town of Huntington. The 17th Legislative District also includes the communities of Deer Park and North Babylon in the Town of Babylon. The district’s boundaries are the railroad tracks to the north and Sunrise Highway to the south. In the Town of Huntington, the east-west boundaries are Manor Road and the Nassau county border. In the Town of Babylon, the east-west boundaries are Deer Park Avenue to the east and Little East Neck Road and Straight Path Road to the west.

18th District
Hon. Jon Cooper
215 E. Main St.
Suite 201
Huntington, NY 11743

Phone: 854-4500 Fax: 854-4503 e-mail: Jon.Cooper@co.suffolk.ny.us

The l8th legislative district encompasses the northern portions of Huntington Township. The district includes the communities of Cold Spring Harbor, Lloyd Harbor, Huntington Village, Halesite, Huntington Bay, Little Neck, Centerport, Northport, Asharoken and Eaton's Neck. Its southern border includes parts of Huntington Station, Greenlawn and East Northport.


Oppose the Current Bill - Legislator Considering Amendment to Exempt Acupuncturists
from the Ephedra Ban
October 14, 2002

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

As many of you already know, IR 1954, the bill that would completely ban the sale of ephedra (ma huang) products in Suffolk County was not voted upon last week. Instead, Huntington Legislator Jon Cooper decided to hold the bill so that he could make changes.

After speaking with Kevin and Marnae Ergil, and listening to the testimony of Kevin and Marnae as well as Sue Risoli and Tish McCrae, one of the changes that he is considering is writing an exemption to the bill that would allow individuals who have taken and passed the NCCAOM herb exam to be exempt from the restrictions of the bill because they use the substance for its traditional purpose and because they can show that they have completed extensive study in herbs and have passed an examination.

Legislator Cooper is determined to pass this bill in some form and he wants to stop health care practitioners who are not appropriately trained in herbal medicine from selling the substance in any form. The NCCAOM exam is the only instrument available that assesses an individuals knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine.

Should this amendment be included in the bill and the bill pass, we would consider this a great victory. It is extremely important that we begin to recognize that the field of herbal medicine is under intense scrutiny and we need to show that we have completed training and examinations that support our practice. We can no longer ignore this issue. Passage of this bill could serve as an example for NY State at a later date.

However, there are no guarantees that this will happen and it is important that we continue in our grass-roots effort to prevent the passage of the bill in its current form. The bill will be voted upon at the November 19 meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature. Over the next several weeks, we must continue to write and call our legislators, explain to them that we oppose the bill in its current form and encourage an amendment that would exempt NCCAOM diplomats. We would also like to organize groups to meet with their legislators and discuss the issue. If you are interested in meeting with your legislator, please contact Marnae Ergil. Give your name and how you can be reached, and also let us know what legislative district you are in.

We cannot sit back and ignore this issue. We must act decisively and continue to express our views. Please do not assume that you do not have to act and that someone else will do it for you.

Thank you very much for your help to this point. Keep up the good work.


Marnae C. Ergil, MS, L.Ac.
Kevin V. Ergil, MS, L.Ac.

Email us for their contact info

A Model for other States- California's Solution to the Ephedra problem

[I received this email in response to the above article.]


In recent years, everybody and anybody with little political clout wants to control Complementary Alternative Medicine.

In the State of California, there has been same attempt to regulate the usage of Ma Huang / Ephedra. But, CSOMA (California State Oriental Medical Association) and the grass root efforts by our members pursuaded the author of that bill (S. Davis of San Diego, CA) to exclude the usage of Ma Huang / Ephedra by the Licensed Acupuncturists.

That bill has passed both State Assembly and the State Senate and has been signed by the Governor of the State of California. However, the Licensed Acupuncturists were excluded from the "Ban" of Ma Huang / Ephedra usage.

Please inquire CSOMA regarding this past bill in the State of California. CSOMA can be reached via the website CSOMAonline.org and via telephone 800-477-4564.

David H. Jeon, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac/CH., MSOM.

Emergency Update - September 26, 2002


I just received some disturbing news from Glenn Smits in
New York. A Suffolk County legislator is attempting to ban the
use of all natural forms of ephedra. This includes the Chinese
herb Ma Huang. Unfortunately, this would be throwing out the
baby with the bath water.

Ephedra is used in Chinese Medicine for colds and asthma. It is
not used for weight loss or energy-boosting. There are a lot of
fad-products out there sold by unethical people who want to make
a buck... I say it's unethical because Ephedra is toxic- it should
not be used in high doses or without other herbs to moderate its
toxicity. The street and fad-usage of Ephedra is an American
perversion of the traditional cultural usage of Ma Huang in China.

An analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine two years ago
said at least 54 deaths and about 1,000 reports of complications
have been linked to the popular supplement since the mid-1990s.
One theory is the herb, especially when combined with caffeine or
exercise, overstimulates the heart.

These deaths are due to the MISUSE of the herb ephedra.
The problem is that these herbs arre not regulated sufficiently.
Only MD's and acupuncturists who are sufficiently trained (licensed
by the NCCAOM or its state equivalent) should be able to
prescribe toxic herbs like ephedra.

So the legislature is not on the wrong track- they just have not been
EDUCATED as to the proper medical usage of herbs like
Ephedra. And this piece of legislation is simply not well thought out.
What we need is better regulation while allowing those trained in
medical herbalisim to continue to benefit their patients with the full
scope of Chinese Medicine.

Kevin Ergil (who has practiced Chinese Medicine for 22 years, is
Dean of a New York acupuncture school) will be meeting this week
with the Suffolk County legislation's originator, Jon Cooper. Mr.
Ergil plans to explain to Legislator Cooper the proper and safe
usage of Ephedra.

Legislator Cooper has good motives- he wants to protect people from
the improper usage of Ephedra. However, he does not realize that
Ephedra is an important Chinese Medicine that can be safely used by
those with adequate training.

Please take the time to inform any acupuncturists or acupuncture
patients you know in New York state, and to write or call
Legislators Jon Cooper and Brian Foley. Their contact information

OUR GOAL is to stop the legislation before it leaves committee. If it
passes, then it could become a precedent for similar state-wide
legislation... and then beyond.

Help us PROTECT the integrity of Chinese Medicine.

WRITE OR CALL Jon Cooper and Brian Foley.

Brian Benjamin Carter
Editor, The Pulse of Oriental Medicine

Here is the email I received from Glenn Smits which includes
contact information and a script:

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I am writing regarding legislation that has recently been introduced to the Suffolk County Legislature. This legislation, sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper would ban the sale of all natural forms of ephedra sinensis (ma huang). This includes the "herbal exctasy" type products as well as formulas that we commonly use (Minor Blue Green Dragon, Ma Huang Tang etc.) and the use of the raw substance in a formula or the powdered substance. Clearly this is not legislation that we want to pass.

We have spoken with Mr. Cooper's office and will be meeting with him next week. However, the Health Committee will be reviewing the legislation on Wednesday, October 2nd. Please take a few minutes to call or Fax Mr. Cooper's office as well as the office of Brian Foley (the chair of the Health Committee) and voice your opposition to this bill. In addition, please ask your patients, friends and family to do the same. I have included a "script" with this e-mail. Please distribute this and use it when speaking to these gentlemen. We do not have much time so please act quickly. If the bill does get through committee, we can still work to stop it, but it may become a bit more difficult.

If you do contact these legislators please also send an e-mail or fax to me with your name, address, phone number and e-mail contact so that we may contact you again easily if further action is required.

If you do not live in Suffolk County, but you know people who do, please speak to them.

Finally, please forward this e-mail to anyone you know who lives/works in Suffolk County and ask them to do the same. (Phone calls and forwarding the e-mail).

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter. It is important that we act now to protect our ability to treat our patients.

Please call before October 1, 2002.


Marnae C. Ergil, MA, MS, L.Ac.
Board of Directors, NY Acupuncture Coalition
Phone: (631) 549-6755
Fax: (631) 424-5323
e-mail: marnae@pobox. com


Hello. My name is ____________________________. I live in _________________ (township) in Suffolk County. I am calling to express my concern that IB 1954, which will ban the sale of all natural forms of ephedra sinense (ma huang) will prevent practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine from taking care of their patients and that the public will be denied access to a safe and legitimate form of herbal medicine.

A: I want Jon Cooper to withdraw this legislation until he has had time to review all of the issues and consider the needs of patients and the public.

B: I want Legislator Brian Foley to urge the Health Committee to table this legislation until it is better thought out and has fully considered the needs of patients and the public.

Thank You.


Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper
214 E. Main Street, Suite 201
Huntington, NY 11742
Phone: (631) 854-4500
Fax: (631) 854-4503

Aide: Barbara Lomoriello:

Suffolk County Legislator Briann Foley
90 W. Main Street, Suite 2N
Patchogue, NY 11772

Phone: (631) 854-1400
Fax: (631) 854-1403
e-mail: Brian.Foley@co.suffolk.ny.us

Susan Henke-Brinkman
Karen Johnson
Neal Capria

Secretary: Ellen Stitt

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